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mother homeschooling coronavirus

Have you found yourself already thinking, "Alexa, teach my children" or channeling your inner Ross Gellar saying, "I'm fine" when someone asks you how homeschooling is going so far?

I can assure you, mama, you are not alone.

In these unprecedented times, feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. And totally understandable. The world as we knew it has been completely flipped upside down. You now find yourself unable to go about your normal routine, potentially working from home full-time with your children as your new co-workers and on top of thathomeschooling too (for who knows how long).

You may be worrying like every other parent is likely worrying right now, "How will I make this all work?" or "How can I teach my children? I don't have a teaching degree!"

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Well, I hope I can assure you—in any small way—that you can do this. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, you are already an incredible teacher. You've taught your children to walk, talk, feed/dress themselves and have helped them with their math homework (even though it is completely different from how you learned in school—"borrow," "regroup"... potato, potahto).

From me, a teacher and fellow mother, to you, I want to emphasize that your family's well-being comes first. Academics are secondary at this time.

You may be thinking, "Why would a teacher be telling me not to worry about school?!" Well, quite frankly, because this is unchartered territory. I NEVER learned—in college or throughout my nine years of teaching—how to teach during a pandemic.

We, as in teachers, parents, caregivers and students, are making history and setting the tone for these unsettling times.

I am not saying to completely disregard academics, but just be gentle with yourself and remember you're doing your best. These tips might help you and your kiddo both feel more confident on this new-to-both-of-you journey of "distance learning."

1. Provide a predictable routine.

One that you can adapt to your family's situation. Maybe mornings are too hectic because you have conference calls to make, so the afternoons would make more sense to work on academics. Be realistic, flexible—and most importantly, gentle with yourselves.

2. Monitor and keep track of expectations given by your child's teacher.

Maybe it is completely digital, maybe your child has packets to work on—sit with your child when you are able to have focused time together (even if it's five minutes or less!) and create a plan in the beginning of each week. Maybe it's Sunday afternoon, or maybe it's Monday morning after breakfast. Whatever works for you.

This is a great time to teach time management skills—utilize checklists, sticky notes, a notebook—you may have some trial and error figuring out what tools will work best for your kiddo. Don't be afraid to reach out to your child's teacher for help or clarification.

3. Give your child the opportunity to have a say in their learning.

This'll give your little students a sense of autonomy and ownership. For example, ask them which subject they would like to work on first—math or reading. Little do they know, they'll eventually have to complete both! Even small things like giving them a choice to use a pen instead of a pencil can make a BIG difference.

4. You have two new BFFs: Google and YouTube.

Don't know how to teach something specific or you want to give your children some extra practice? All you have to do is type the grade level, skill and "worksheet" in the Google search bar and you'll get links to many different website options—even free ones.

YouTube has a plethora of videos to utilize, although I do suggest screening them yourself first. You can also use Safeshare.tv or Viewpure.com to take away advertisements before and during the videos.

5. Use this time to focus on life skills.

Cursive writing, reading and following recipes, writing a letter, taking care of a plant, completing a research project on a topic of their choice, doing laundry, how to write a check—now is the time to teach or reinforce these life skills (all of which have some sort of academic tie-in).

All in all, just remember this won't last forever.

Despite what any meme says on social media, we are not going to evaluate your teaching abilities—promise. Be patient with your children, their teachers and most importantly, yourself.

Have you ever heard yourself saying (or maybe just thinking) , "If I only had the time…" or "They grow up so fast, I wish I could…"?

Well, now can be that time.

So let them sleep in, wear their PJs all day, make blanket forts in the living room—those are the things they will remember most vividly.

Remember to give yourself some grace, mama, you're doing the best you can.

And know that we miss your (our) kids, and we're cheering you all on!

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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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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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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