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Alyssa Hertzig, founder of The Sparkly Life and mom of two, leaves us with two very important words: Blow Out.

Face Forward

It’s easy not to feel glamorous as a mom. Those days of sitting in front of the mirror examining your pores and perfecting your smoky eye go out the window as soon as you hold that little one in your arms. But, it’s probably a blessing those pore days are over anyway, right? Alyssa Hertzig, mom of Sadie, three, and Nate, four months, is no stranger to beauty. In fact, she made a living of it at several publications including Allure, Harper's Bazaar, Lucky, Good Housekeeping and Shape to just to name a few. So who better to get some beauty insight from than Hertzig, the founder of the blog The Sparkly Life, where she gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life as a beauty editor/mom? Like many of us, she’s trying every day to balance her life as a mom with her career. Except as a part-time beauty editor (and freelance writer), we have a feeling Hertzig has tools we only wish we had in our makeup bag when we're getting ready for a meeting in the morning. Here we find a little more about Hertzig’s daily beauty regime, her tricks of the trade and of course, being pampered. What is your daily beauty regime? For someone who works in beauty and is surrounded by products, I'm actually kind of a minimalist. Okay, well, maybe not a minimalist, but I've at least streamlined my routine and gotten it down to a science. If I'm going to be home most of the day, I'll skip makeup or at most I'll wear a little concealer and mascara. Even if I'm going to work or to an appointment though, my makeup takes less than 10 minutes. I'll wear foundation, concealer, barely-there eyeshadow, pink blush, a thin strip of black liquid liner and mascara. Then, once I'm in the cab or on the train, I add a sheer, rosy lip color. I never apply lip color at home because then I can't kiss my kids! My big indulgence is that I try to get a blowout once a week. I then make it last for several days, so that I can squeeze as many good hair days out of it as possible. Good hair is a game-changer for me. I feel so much more confident with a blowout, plus after the initial appointment, I save so much time in the morning since I basically don't have to do anything with my hair. Did you face any pregnancy beauty issues? My skin was definitely affected. During my first pregnancy, the hormones worked in my favor, basically erasing my breakouts -- my skin looked great for nine months. It was awesome! During the second pregnancy though, it was the opposite. I was breaking out like crazy -- especially in the beginning. I've also dealt with losing hair. For me, it seems to happen a couple of months after giving birth because breastfeeding helps stave it off for awhile. Thank god I have a lot of hair to begin with because literally clumps will come out at a time. Ugh. Now that you're a mom to two have you figured out some times saving beauty tricks? My biggest trick is knowing my limits! Case in point: I feel best when my hair is blown out, but I definitely do not have time to blowdry it myself anymore. (I mean, if I have a free hour, the LAST thing I want to be doing is standing under a hot dryer!). Plus, even if I did DIY it, it wouldn't look nearly as good as I want it to. So I splurge on pro blowouts. I can make them last several days. On days when my hair isn't blown out, I've mastered a braided bun that looks complicated but takes two minutes, tops, to do. Also, even on mornings you don't have time to apply a lot of makeup, quickly using a few key products makes a big difference. If I have literally one minute, I'll pat concealer under my eyes and swipe on a few flicks of mascara and that's a helluva lot better than doing nothing! What products could you not live without? Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes (I'm OBSESSED with these. They take off your makeup in seconds--so great when you're exhausted), La Mer concealer (pricey but works so well at hiding both dark circles and zits), foundation (right now my favorite is Dolce & Gabbana), Clinique Chubby Sticks, mascara (I'm not loyal -- I'm always trying a new one), Kerastase hair masks and Goody hair elastics. If you had two hours for yourself to get pampered, what would you do and where would you go? Ooh! I would get a 60-minute massage at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel spa (so swanky and amazing there!), and then I'd jump in a cab and head to Union Square for a blowout at DryBar. Good hair and stress relief? Heaven. Photography by Ady Dorsett Photography.

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

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

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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