Illustration courtesy of Preconceive.Got a baby on the way? You probably have a gazillion questions about the big day – especially if you are a first-time mom. While nothing can recreate the actual experience of bringing a child into this world, childbirth education classes are a great way to ready yourself for Labor Day. There are several options to choose from, with costs ranging from free to upwards of $1,000, and while the ultimate goal of all courses is to help expectant parents make their birthing experience as positive as possible, each has its own method and philosophy. To help you in your search, we’ve outlined 6 of the most common settings that offer childbirth education classes. Remember that this is just a guide to help you get started. Do your own research, call the facilities and educators you are considering and make sure that their birthing philosophy fit yours. Birthing Center What it is: A birth center is a place that offers prenatal care and labor and delivery services. Some birth centers are freestanding, while others can be part of a hospital. While not all birth centers offer classes, those that do center their modules around community, encourage partners to attend, and sometimes include a tour of the facility. The classes are usually run by more than one facilitator. What’s the philosophy: Classes that take place at a birthing center tend to be a good fit for the holistic and natural-birth enthusiasts, although it can suit those who want to attempt a natural birth but would still like to have easy access to medical aid. If you are planning on a cesarean birth, a vaginal birth after cesarean or a birth with an epidural, it’s best to thoroughly read over the class curriculum and make sure that the birth center you are considering still fits your birth plan. Class sizes: Courses that are run by birthing centers can have a bigger group of people attending. Hospital What it is: Hospital-run classes prepare expectant parents who want or require medical assistance during the birthing process. They provide general information on labor and delivery and help you understand the birthing experience that you can expect at that particular hospital. Facilitators, who are usually labor and delivery nurses, will go over the protocols that are specific to the hospital’s maternity ward. Expectant parents choosing a hospital class will usually take it at the hospital associated with their practitioner. What’s the philosophy: Because these classes are affiliated with a specific hospital, they may endorse medical interventions and favor medicated vaginal birth and cesarean sections over natural deliveries. Class sizes: These classes also tend to have more attendees than in other settings in order to fit in all parents scheduled to deliver at that hospital. Yoga Studio What it is: Although yoga studios usually recruit outside educators to lead their birthing classes, they’re often holistically focused. Class description can vary from one studio to another, so it’s best to reach out prior to committing to a specific location. What’s the philosophy: The educators there are usually holistic advocates and help partners find their role in the birthing process. Many of them also take a more innovative stance and teach about birthing tools like birthing balls or incorporate tenets of yoga. Class Size: These classes tend to be smaller than those at birth centers and hospitals. Doula/Midwife What it is: Doulas and midwives like to base their courses on your birth plan. Classes can take place in your home, their home, a rented place, yoga studio or a birthing center. In some cases, several doulas might even team up to create a community center. The facilitators who run these classes are certified in childbirth education and can go over any type of births – be it natural, cesarean or vaginal after cesarean. What’s the philosophy: Doulas and midwives often champion non-medicated natural births, although they are qualified to incorporate information on medically-assisted labor and delivery – and more than willing if it is the birthing experience you desire. They will give you information on alternative techniques to cope with pain, coach you on how to use birthing balls and, just like educators at certain yoga studios, help birth partners find their place. Class sizes: These classes can be in group (usually smaller than in hospitals and birthing centers) or one on one with the instructor – all in all, much more personal and intimate. Weekend Retreat What it is: A weekend getaway for expectant couples fuses relaxation, romance and childbirth education and is becoming a new trend in babymooning. They include prenatal yoga classes, healthy meals and snacks, optional massages, and childbirth classes. What’s the philosophy: The main goal of weekend retreats is to provide you with all the tools you need to get the childbirth experience that you want – to train your body and your mind for childbirth. Classes go over stages of labor, the different positions for labor and birth, techniques to cope with pain, medications and medical interventions, and the role of birth partners (among other things). Class sizes: These retreats tend to be much more exclusive and intimate. Baby Store What it is: It isn’t just about shopping anymore: many local baby stores now hold childbirth and childcare education classes to provide as much guidance as possible to new parents and parents-to-be. Shop-led courses are a fun, interactive way to educate yourself about labor and delivery while allowing you to meet fellow expectant parents in your neighborhood. Baby stores usually recruit childbirth certified educators and doulas for their courses. What’s their philosophy: Baby store educators can vary in philosophy, and will likely reflect the ethos of the baby store. If the store tends towards more natural parenting, the instructor might favor that approach. If the store appeals to a more mainstream consumer, the class might be more middle-of-the-road. Class sizes: Classes at baby stores can be bigger than other options. Adorable illustration above courtesy of Preconceive, which provides birth and parenting education classes and individualized coaching.
As mamas, we naturally become the magic-makers for our families. We sing the songs that make the waits seem shorter, dispense the kisses that help boo-boos hurt less, carry the seemingly bottomless bags of treasures, and find ways to turn even the most hum-drum days into something memorable.
Sometimes it's on a family vacation or when exploring a new locale, but often it's in our own backyards or living rooms. Here are 12 ways to create magical moments with kids no matter where your adventures take you.
1. Keep it simple
Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but―trust us―your most magical memories don't require perfection. Spend the morning building blanket forts or break out the cookie cutters to serve their sandwich in a fun shape and you'll quickly learn that, for kids, the most magical moments are often the simplest.
2. Get on their level
Sometimes creating a memorable moment can be as easy as getting down on the floor and playing with your children. So don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees, to swing from the monkey bars, or turn watching your favorite movie into an ultimate snuggle sesh.
3. Reimagine the ordinary
As Mary says, "the cover is not the book." Teach your child to see the world beyond initial impressions by encouraging them to imagine a whole new world as you play―a world where the laundry basket can be a pirate ship or a pile of blankets can be a castle.
4. Get a little messy
Stomp in muddy puddles. Break out the finger paint. Bake a cake and don't worry about frosting drips on the counter. The messes will wait, mama. For now, let your children―and yourself―live in these moments that will all too soon become favorite memories.
5. Throw out the plan
The best-laid plans...are rarely the most exciting. And often the most magical moments happen by accident. So let go of the plan, embrace the unexpected, and remember that your child doesn't care if the day goes according to the schedule.
6. Take it outside
There's never a wrong time of year to make magic outside. Take a stroll through a spring rainstorm, catch the first winter snowflakes on your tongue, or camp out under a meteor shower this summer. Mother Nature is a natural at creating experiences you'll both remember forever.
7. Share your childhood memories
Chances are if you found it magical as a child, then your kids will too. Introduce your favorite books and movies (pro tip: Plan a double feature with an original like Mary Poppins followed with the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns!) or book a trip to your favorite family vacation spot from the past. You could even try to recreate photos from your old childhood with your kids so you can hang on to the memory forever.
8. Just add music
Even when you're doing something as humdrum as prepping dinner or tidying up the living room, a little music has a way of upping the fun factor. Tell Alexa to cue up your favorite station for a spontaneous family dance party or use your child's favorite movie soundtrack for a quick game of "Clean and Freeze" to pick up toys at the end of the day.
9. Say "yes"
Sometimes it can feel like you're constantly telling your child "no." While it's not possible to grant every request (sorry, kiddo, still can't let you drive the car!), plan a "yes" day for a little extra magic. That means every (reasonable) request gets an affirmative response for 24 hours. Trust us―they'll never forget it.
10. Let them take the lead
A day planned by your kid―can you imagine that? Instead of trying to plan what you think will lead to the best memories, put your kid in the driver's seat by letting them make the itinerary. If you have more than one child, break up the planning so one gets to pick the activity while the other chooses your lunch menu. You just might end up with a day you never expected.
11. Ask more questions
Odds are, your child might not remember every activity you plan―but they will remember the moments you made them feel special. By focusing the conversation on your little one―their likes, dislikes, goals, or even just craziest dreams―you teach them that their perspective matters and that you are their biggest fan.
12. Turn a bad day around
Not every magical moment will start from something good. But the days where things don't go to plan can often turn out to be the greatest memories, especially when you find a way to turn even a negative experience into a positive memory. So don't get discouraged if you wake up to rain clouds on your beach day or drop the eggs on the floor before breakfast―take a cue from Mary Poppins and find a way to turn the whole day a little "turtle."
Mary Poppins Returns available now on Digital & out on Blue-ray March 19! Let the magic begin in your house with a night where everything is possible—even the impossible ✨
After a pregnancy that is best described as uncomfortable, Jessica Simpson is finally done "Jess-tating" and is now a mama of three.
Baby Birdie Mae Johnson joined siblings Ace and Maxwell on Tuesday, March 19, Simpson announced via Instagram.
Simpson's third child weighed in at 10 pounds, 13 ounces.
Birdie's name is no surprise to Jessica's Instagram followers, who saw numerous references to the name in her baby shower photos and IG stories in the last few weeks.
The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to experts.
At this moment in time, Simpson and her husband, former NFL player Eric Johnson, are probably busy counting little fingers and toes , which is great news because it means Simpson's toes can finally deflate. She's had a terrible time with swollen feet during this pregnancy, and was also hospitalized multiple times due to bronchitis in her final trimester.
We're so glad to see Simpson's little Birdie has finally arrived!
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Spring is officially here and if you're looking for a way to celebrate the change in the season, why not treat the kids to some ice cream, mama?
DQ locations across the country (but not the ones in malls) are giving away free small vanilla cones today, March 20! So pack up the kids and get to a DQ near you.
And if you can't make it today, from March 21 through March 31, DQ's got a deal where small cones will be just 50 cents (but you have to download the DQ mobile app to claim that one).
Another chain, Pennsylvania-based Rita's Italian Ice is also dishing up freebies today, so if DQ's not your thing you can grab a free cup of Italian ice instead.
We're so excited that ice cream season is here and snowsuit season is behind us. Just a few short weeks and the kids will be jumping through the sprinklers.
Welcome back, spring. We've missed you!
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The woman who basically single-handedly taught the world to embrace vulnerability and imperfection is coming to Netflix and we cannot wait to binge whatever Brené Brown's special will serve up because we'll probably be better people after watching it.
It drops on April 19 and is called Brené Brown: The Call to Courage. If it has even a fraction of the impact of her books or the viral Ted talk that made her a household name, it's going to be life and culture changing.
Announcing the special on Instagram Brown says she "cannot believe" she's about to be "breaking some boundaries over at Netflix" with the 77-minute special.
Netflix describes the special as a discussion of "what it takes to choose courage over comfort in a culture defined by scarcity, fear and uncertainty" and it sounds exactly like what we need right now.
April 19 is still pretty far away though, so if you need some of Brown's wisdom now, check out her books on Amazon or watch (or rewatch) the 2010 Ted Talk that put her—and our culture's relationship with vulnerability and shame—in the national spotlight.
The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown
If Marie Kondo's Netflix show got people tidying up, Brown's Netflix special is sure to be the catalyst for some courageous choices this spring.
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My husband and I recently had a date night that included being away from our son overnight for the first time since he was born three years ago (but don't let your heads run away with a fantasy—we literally slept because we were exhausted #thisiswhatwecallfunnow). It was a combination of a late night work event, a feeling that we had to do something just for the two of us, and simple convenience. It would have taken hours to get home from the end of a very long day when we could just check into a hotel overnight and get home early the next day.
But before that night, I fretted about what to do. How would childcare work? No one besides me or my husband has put our son to bed, and we have never not been there when he wakes up in the morning.
I knew if there was any chance of this being successful, the only person that could pull it off is one of my son's favorite people—his grandmother. Grammy cakes. Gramma. We rely so much on these extended support systems to give us comfort and confidence as parents and put our kids at ease. Technically, we could parent without their support, but I'm so glad we don't have to.
So as we walked out the door, leaving Grandma with my son for one night, I realized how lucky we are that she gets it...
She gets it because she always comes bearing delicious snacks. And usually a small toy or crayons in her bag for just the right moment when it's needed.
She gets it because she comes with all of the warmth and love of his parents but none of the baggage. None of the first time parent jitters and all of the understanding that most kids just have simple needs: to eat, play and sleep.
She gets it because she understands what I need too. The reassurance that my baby will be safe. And cared for.
She gets it because she's been in my shoes before. Decades ago, she was a nervous new mama too and felt the same worries. She's been exactly where we are.
She gets it because she shoos us away as we nervously say goodbye, calling out cheerfully, "Have fun, I've got this." And I know that she does.
She gets it because she will get down on the floor with him to play Legos—even though sometimes it's a little difficult to get back up.
She gets it because she will fumble around with our AppleTV—so different from her remote at home—to find him just the right video on Youtube that he's looking for.
She gets it because she diligently takes notes when we go through the multi-step bedtime routine that we've elaborately concocted, passing no judgment, and promising that she'll follow along as best as she can.
She gets it because she'll break the routine and lay next to him in bed when my son gets upset, singing softly in his ear until she sees his eyelids droop heavy and finally fall asleep.
She gets it because she'll text us to let us know when he's fallen asleep because she knows we'll be wondering.
She gets it because just like our son trusts us as his mom and dad, Grandma is his safe space. My son feels at ease with her—and that relaxes me, too.
She gets it because when we come home from our "big night out" the house will be clean. Our toddler's play table that always has some sort of sticky jelly residue on it will be spotless. The dishwasher empty. (Side note: She is my hero.)
She gets it because she shows up whenever we ask. Even when it means having to rearrange her schedule. Even when it means she has to sleep in our home instead of her own.
She gets it because even though she has her own life, she makes sure to be as involved in ours as she can. But that doesn't mean she gives unsolicited advice. It means that she's there. She comes to us or lets us come to her. Whenever we need her.
She gets it because she takes care of us, too. She's there to chat with at the end of a long day. To commiserate on how hard motherhood and working and life can be, but to also gently remind me, "These are the best days."
After every time Grandma comes over, she always leaves a family that feels so content. Fulfilled by her presence. The caretaking and nourishment (mental and food-wise) and warmth that accompanies her.
We know this is a privilege. We know we're beyond lucky that she is present and wants to be involved and gets it. We know that sometimes life doesn't work out like this and sometimes Grandma lives far away or is no longer here, or just doesn't get it. So we hold on. And appreciate every moment.
As Grandma leaves, I hug her tight and tell her, "I can't thank you enough. We couldn't have done this without you." Because we can't. And we wouldn't want to.