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Dear Dad: Thank you for teaching us to be good parents

You’re going to be the best grandpa!

Dear Dad: Thank you for teaching us to be good parents

My husband is about to become a father.

Wow.


To be honest—that’s still sinking in. In a few short months he will be up in the middle of the night changing diapers, learning how to fold tiny clothes and how to unfold complicated contraptions, like our stroller.

There will be a learning curve, but I have every confidence he will handle it all like a champ. He is pretty amazing that way.

We’re both about to become parents, to jump into this world we know very little about—but I’m feeling confident we’ll be able to rock parenting life together. And that’s largely in part because we both have had such wonderful examples of fathers growing up.

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For me, that’s my dad. The soon-to-be Grandpa.

From teaching me to ride a bike, to bringing me flowers after a tough breakup—my dad has always been there for me. He has always seemed to know just what to do or say at just the right moment.

He taught me how to handle hardships.

As a young married couple with a hungry baby to feed, my dad (and mom) survived on nothing but potatoes during a rough financial period, in order to afford to feed me.

He has always protected me.

I know my dad has my back. He has always wanted to make sure I was safe. This meant pool floaties, minced hot dogs and home remedies whenever I was sick. Sometimes I would get annoyed with his constant preventive measures, but looking back I see the love in every action. And I’ll feel it even more, soon, when I’m holding my baby in my arms.

There was nothing quite like the feeling of laying my head on my dad’s chest. It always made me feel safe and comforted. Like home.

He has always worked hard for our family.

He rarely took time for himself. I remember him always helping around the house, spending time with my siblings and I or putting in long hours at the office to help with extra expenses. My dad became a father eight times. And he handled it all like a pro. He is a humble, quiet guy—soft spoken and often seemed insecure about his role as a dad.

But he didn’t need to be. We felt his love so completely and saw it every single day in the way he lived out his life.

When I met my husband, my dad and I had several good, long talks about my future. I knew that I wanted my dad’s approval before I made the commitment to marry this man.

He was wonderful throughout the entire process of when I started dating my future husband, during our engagement and ultimately the wedding. Walking down the aisle with my dad, arm in arm, toward my groom—was one of the proudest moments of my life.

He had done his job, and had done it well, and was passing on the responsibility of caring for and protecting me to someone else—my husband, my teammate—and our new life together.

My favorite picture from my wedding was one of the two of us making that final walk together. I’m so grateful that God chose to give me such a wonderful father. He still checks up on me—calls and video chats, makes sure we know he is there for my husband and I if we ever need anything.

He’ll always be my dad.

So I’m excited as I approach the birth of my first child—a little girl.

I’m excited because I’ll get to watch the relationship between my girl and my husband blossom and grow.

Because I know how it is to be a little girl with a strong, meaningful, unbreakable bond with her dad.

Because I was that little girl. And sometimes I feel like I still am.

Thanks, Dad. (Or should I say Grandpa?)

The Motherly #RockSTARDad Essay Series is brought to you by Motherly and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program. The prize will go to the essay that gets the shared and read the most, so please share this essay if you think it should win! You can read the other essays here.

The ENERGY STAR certified washer + dryer prize is provided by LG. The LG TWINWash™ 2-in-1 washer and dryer pair models may vary from pictured due to inventory and/or household requirements related to size and installation requirements.

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    Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

    Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

    Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

    In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

    Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

    Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

    Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

    Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

    After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

    With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

    We’re embracing off-season deals.

    With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

    Vacationing is a way to give back.

    If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

    Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

    While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

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

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    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    In a recent survey shared in the Reproductive Health journal, one out of six women in the United States reported being mistreated while in labor, where mistreatment included, "loss of autonomy; being shouted at, scolded, or threatened; and being ignored, refused, or receiving no response to requests for help."

    One out of six.

    To make these numbers even more sickening, mistreatment was more common among women of color, women with partners of color, women with lower socioeconomic status, and women under the age of 30.

    (And yet people still question the validity of stating that black mothers are at a higher risk of pregnancy and birth-related complications.)

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