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We’re assuming you and your partner have talked about having a family, at least generally, before you up and decided it was baby time. But it’s time to get specific.


We chatted with relationship experts to find out the most important topics to talk about as a couple before you embark on the biggest adventure of your lives: parenthood.

Here are the 10 crucial questions to discuss:

1. Why now?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s essential to be on the same page about what you value, how you’ve already grown as a couple and why you both feel that it’s baby time. (Psst: Is one of you on the fence about a baby? Check out our article about how to handle that discussion.)

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2. How will this affect us as a couple?

Dr. Terri Orbuch, relationship expert and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great suggests that you talk about each of your expectations once the baby arrives, covering everything from dividing up responsibilities to how dynamics will change. Make sure you cover:

Division of labor

Including changing diapers, waking up at night, caring for the child during the day, doing bath time, bedtime, etc.

Finances

What will change? Will you create a new budget together? How will you save for your child’s education and expenses? Be clear and up front about this with one another.

How your relationship will change

Adding a third person to your mix is going to make things a little different. But don’t panic! Just be sure to discuss your hopes and fears together so you’re on the same page.

3. How strong are we as a couple right now?

Ashley Davis Bush, psychotherapist and author of 75 Habits for a Happy Marriage, says, “You need to feel that things are working, that you are close, that you handle things well together.” A baby won’t make anything easier, so be sure you work on solidifying your relationship first and foremost.

“Often couples are feeling rocky and think that having a baby will bring them closer together,” Davis Bush says. “Not true. Having a baby can be a stressor on the relationship, so you have to start strong. If you start weak, things will only get worse.”

4. How do we want to parent?

Therapist Zach Brittle suggests discussing what “mom” and “dad” mean to you both. This might mean unpacking each of your childhoods a bit. What was great about them? What did you not like?

“We learn to parent from our parents. Some of us have a lot of gratitude and respect for our parents. Some of us don't have much at all,” Brittle says. “It’s important for both partners to expose their notions of ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ to each other, and perhaps to do this over and over again as you learn more about it, so that you can define your own path rather than slip unconsciously into your parents’ [paths].”

5. What will we do for childcare?

Marriage and family therapist Mary Kay Cocharo says this is a good time to start talking about who will work, and who might stay home, when the baby arrives. (It’s okay to change your mind! Just start the conversation.)

“Today’s couples have lots of choices but must also balance the demand of the increasing cost of living,” Cocharo says. “Some couples want one parent to stay home and must either supplement their income from another source or make difficult cuts. Other couples want both parents to continue working but find the demands of career and children a difficult balancing act. Talking about this before baby makes three is an important step in planning.”

Are both parents going back to work?

Will you hire an au pair or nanny? Ask the grandparents to take on a few days? Find a day care center? Finding a situation you’re both comfortable with is key.

Is one parent going to stay home?

If one parent is giving up their salary, discuss how you will make up for the loss in income. This financial shift will take some getting used to and you’ll need to adjust your budget, so communicate with each other openly.

6. How will we discipline?

Marriage and family therapist Chrissy Powers, herself a mom of two, says discipline is a must-discuss item.

“Discipline is about so much more than just correction. We learned about discipline from our own parents, and as all married people know, each family is different. I wish that most people understood that discipline is more about the relationship with your child,” she says. “My husband and I have had to get on the same page with this, but it's taken us four years to do so because we had different ideas of how to discipline. When bringing up the topic of discipline, I think a couple should discuss how they were disciplined as children and what they did and didn't like about it.”

7. What religious beliefs or values do we want to pass on?

Do you want to raise your kids in one particular faith? What values do you hope your children embody in their own lives? How will you set an example for them? Does this mean attending religious services, or living according to your own moral guidelines in any particular ways?

8. How will we make time for our relationship after baby?

Are you ready to add another person (aka an amazing little human) into your family?

Brittle explains, “When the baby comes, it will demand nearly all of your time and energy and love. This means you’ll have less for your partner. That’s just a fact. You’ll need to be much more intentional about the time and energy and love that you do have available and use it to protect and nurture your friendship. It’s easy for couples to grow distant without even noticing when they don't do this.”

9. What if trying to conceive is challenging for us?

Cocharo says couples should also discuss the possibility of not getting pregnant right away, and how that may feel. So questions like, “How would you feel if we were unable to conceive?” or “How do you feel about adoption or surrogacy?” are important to talk about.

“Infertility is a very stressful and challenging obstacle for many couples. Rather than silently hope you’ll be one of the lucky ones with no problems, discuss the importance of having children ahead of time,” Cocharo says. “Ask each other about your openness to infertility treatments, as well as adoption or surrogacy. Assuming that your partner feels how you do, without discussion, is a recipe for disappointment and disaster down the road.”

10. What do we want our future to look like?

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of starting a family, but what do you want life to look like when your kids are grown? Do you dream of family vacations with one or two adult children, or Thanksgiving meals with a football team of kids gathered around?

“At some point—18 or so years after the baby arrives—the baby will leave. And the two of you will be free to make some choices,” Brittle says.

“Don’t wait to start dreaming about what you’re going to do. Will you travel to Ireland? Buy a boat? Move to the mountains? Go back to work? It really doesnt matter what your dream is, but it matters that you have one. It’ll help you keep your head up when the baby demands all your attention, and it’ll give you vision for the future when you’re overwhelmed by the present.”


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Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.

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To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.






Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.






Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.



Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?



Cornrows

We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.






Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.




Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.








Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.









Lifestyle

When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) started making headlines in early 2020 the expert advice was simple: Don't panic.

This week the CDC warned that the outbreaks of the virus will very likely happen in the United States, but it's important to know that officials still don't want parents to panic, they just want us to be prepared.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Messonnier said.

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It is totally normal to read this and be concerned mama, but there are several things we need to unpack before we let our anxiety overwhelm us.

Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus response in the United States:

Top doctors are preparing for this

As the virus has spread rapidly overseas America's top doctors have been monitoring the situation. In not quite two months' time 80,000 people have contracted the illness and fewer than 3,000 of those people have died.

In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed (most of those were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan or people who caught the virus while traveling overseas). There have only been two cases of person-to-person transmission on U.S. soil, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more than 1,000 professionals working on the response to this virus, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modelers.

"CDC staff members are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, and medical management of cases; and with academic partners to understand the virulence, risk for transmission, and other characteristics of this novel virus," the agency states on its website.

And while there have been delays in implementing Coronavirus testing measures in the Unites States, experts are working to resolve issues and make testing more efficient. As the New York Times reports, the health and human services secretary "told a Senate panel that federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers."

In other words, the experts in the United States are preparing to fight this virus and they want the American public to be prepared, too.

This could impact school, work and daily life

That's why the CDC is telling us to get ready, not to cause panic or anxiety but just to set the expectation that life could be disrupted by this virus. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Messonnier said Tuesday.

She says schools may have to close or otherwise adjust to an outbreak and students may have to start doing tele-schooling online. She also wants businesses to start preparing to hold meetings remotely rather than in-person and to encourage telecommuting during any outbreak. Community activities like sports and church may also have to be canceled or modified.

As the New York Times reports, "Scientists don't know who is most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Children seem less likely to be infected. Middle-aged men seem to have been disproportionately infected, according to some studies."

This could be really disruptive for families

It is true that the scenario Messonnnier is outlining could be really disruptive for families. No one wants this to happen, but if it does have to happen it's a good thing we are getting the heads up.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for possible interruptions to daily life:

  • Talk to your workplace about any plans it has for operations during an outbreak.
  • Speak to your child's school or childcare provider about how it plans to operate in a worst-case scenario.
  • Ask your doctor for an extra prescription of any medications your family needs, just in case an outbreak makes going to the pharmacy not possible.

Here's how to protect yourself + your family from the Coronavirus

The CDC does not recommend that we all go buy face masks. Face masks are only recommended for people "who show symptoms of COVID-19...[and] health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Instead, here's what we can all do to avoid the illness, according to the CDC:

  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe."

We know this is serious and kind of scary, mama. But please, don't panic. Know that pandemic experts are working to keep your family safe. According to the CDC, the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators are working on development of candidate vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19."

On Tuesday, President Trump said the coronavirus is "very well under control in our country" and "is going to go away." The health experts who work for the government are doing everything they can to prove the President right, but they do want the public to be ready in case it doesn't go away as fast as he (and all of us) would like.

News

For nine months, your mother was all you knew.

Before I held you in my arms, your mother held you and never let you go.

Before I sacrificed time for you, your mother gladly sacrificed her body.

Before I consoled you when you were upset, your mother consoled you with just the beat of her heart.

Before I comforted you when you were restless, your mother comforted you with just the sound of her voice.

Before I could do anything for you, your mother gave everything for you.

Your mother is the reason I hold you today.

Before you were even a twinkle in my eye, you were in your mother's heart. Your life, your safety, and your very existence depended on her. Something I'll never be able to repay.

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It will take a long time for you to understand the weight, the depth and the immeasurability of your mother's love for you. But someday, when you have children of your own, you will understand what I now see so clearly.

So, I'll hold you tight. But I'll hold your mother tighter because my love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother's love.


This essay was previously published here.
Life

What would bath time be without rubber duckies? Probably not as much fun—but also a whole lot cleaner, according to a study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

That's because it turns out those squeaky toys are far from squeaky clean thanks to “potentially pathogenic bacteria" in four out of the five bath toys examined by researchers.

For the study, Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys collected from random households as well as six toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. They found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm" on their inner surfaces. What's more, 56% of the real-use toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build up. ?

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Although the researchers note exposure to bacteria and fungi may have some benefits, the strong existence of grime in bath toys is still concerning. They note, “Squeezing water with chunks of biofilm into their faces (which is not unexpected behavior for these users) may result in eye, ear, wound or even gastro-intestinal tract infections."

Besides tossing all your bath toys, what can parents do?

The researchers say more experimental work is needed. But, for starters, it doesn't hurt to remove water from the toys after usage or give them a good, regular dunk in boiling water. The researchers also said they would like to see more regulations on the polymeric materials used for many bath toys.

There is, however, one simple solution—it just comes at the cost of rubber duckie's squeak. “In fact, the easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole," the researchers say of toys like this water-tight duck. “But where is the fun in that?"

[A version of this post originally appeared April 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

News
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