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As we slide into the last week of 2018 (😳), let's take the time to look back and reflect on our year, mama. It may have been hard for some, momentous for others. It may have had a lot of change or been more of the status quo. Either way, pause to reflect on all that's happened and what you're grateful for. It can completely change your whole outlook.

XO,

#TeamMotherly

PS: *This* is why you mix up your kids' names, according to science, and here are five real ways parents can get more help around the house.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

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


Our Partners

There's no denying that Christmas trees bring the joy of the holidays to life into our homes. They make us happy and decorating them creates moments of happiness with our family. And now during these trying times, people are finding that same joy decorating Easter trees.

Some parents are digging out their faux Christmas trees and redecorating them for Easter.

"Given the current situation and the craziness of it all, I thought we'd try and cheer the house up a little bit, because we're all stuck here for the foreseeable future," says mama Louise Connolly.

"And it gave the kids something to do. They thought it was hilarious! I just want to make this time memorable for them in nice ways," Connolly says.

FEATURED VIDEO

While the trend is fairly new in the US, Germany and Sweden have followed the trend for centuries. Known as Ostereierbaum, the tradition symbolizes the start of the spring season.

Some mamas are opting for minimalist versions while others are going full Christmas with faux evergreen trees.

From whimsical pink and farmhouse to sparkled and rustic, there are a rainbow of Easter tree varieties to buy or DIY. Just don't forget a pair of bunny ears at the top!

Need ideas? Here's what to put on your Easter tree for a cheerful pop of color:

  • Plastic dyed eggs
  • Rabbit-themed stuffed animals
  • Feathers
  • Faux peonies + roses
  • Pastel-hued lights
  • Faux carrots
  • Paper bunnies + chicks
  • miniature birds or bugs
Instagram mama Ania Krezalek says her kids had so much fun with their indoor minimalist version that she's now doing her outdoor trees, too.

Krezalek tells Mothery some moms in her neighborhood suggested outdoor Easter trees as a way to cheer up everyone's kids.

"A lot of moms are resorting to drives with the kids to get out safely, and for the kids to spot out homes with trees decorated for Easter I'm sure would put a smile on their faces," she explains.

From outdoor trees to indoor lights, mamas are making the most of anything festive right now.
Grey's Anatomy star Camilla Luddington dug out her Christmas lights (sans tree) to cheer up her daughter.
She tweeted "We've renamed them Easter lights :)"

During these hard times, we all need something to smile about, and if you're one of the people who can't wait to get their Christmas decorations up you now have the perfect excuse to get them back out.


News

With kids home from school doing more of their learning online—and parents across the country just trying to get a little bit of their own work done at home—kids are getting record amounts of screen time these days. Preschoolers have jam-packed video conferencing schedules, kindergarteners are watching read-alouds on laptops, and elementary and middle school kids are suddenly turning in every assignment online.

How can we help kids adjust to spending so much time on screens, especially when they may have a strong association with screen time as playtime? And how can parents adjust to letting kids have so much more screen time when we've been told we should cut back on how much time our little ones look at our phones?

FEATURED VIDEO

Here's how to help kids adjust to being on devices more than usual:

Create separation between learning screen time + play screen time

In the big picture, screen time is screen time regardless of how it's being used, and there are always risks to overusing something. However, it's helpful to differentiate between screen time used for learning activities and screen time for play activities.

For example, reading a book online or participating in a Zoom class meeting is different than playing a game or chatting. Establish clear expectations around what constitutes "learning time" and "playtime" on devices. For each type of activity, be clear about the where (maybe learning always happens at the kitchen table, and play is usually on the couch) as well as the when (learning in the morning and play during the hour before dinner).

It's important that kids aren't media multitasking by using multiple devices or apps at one time when they're trying to learn. Keep them on one screen at a time, which will help them stick with their activity until completion.

Set healthy limits around using devices, even for school

Use a timer or parental controls to set and enforce time limits for devices, even when your kids are using a computer or tablet for school activities. Children are used to having scheduled blocks of time at school. You can schedule your child's learning screen time so that there's a defined block of time for working on an online math lesson or for watching a video of a science experiment. This makes the expectations clearer for the kids—and makes screen time easier for parents to manage.

Parents can also use parental control apps like Qustodio to see what kids are doing on their devices and how long they are using different apps and websites for. The app allows parents to set a limit on how much time kids are spending on entertainment and recreational apps and websites and allow unlimited use for educational tools.

Include screen-free learning time

Creating a balance of screen time and other non-screen activities is important. Going back and forth between activities can help avoid the problems associated with using devices for lengthy periods of time.

Make sure kids get physical movement throughout the day, give them time to engage in hobbies and activities without devices and have them participate in tasks around the home, such as helping make dinner or folding the laundry. Including kids in activities like cooking, cleaning and organizing gives kids practice with reading, writing and math while encouraging the development of necessary life skills.

Give yourself a break

Ultimately, parents need to give themselves some grace during this time to try to do the best they can with finding balance. A recent study suggests that active screen time, such as playing an educational game or interacting with friends or family online, can have a positive impact on child development. Even if you were previously opposed to screen time for your kids, take heart: This situation isn't forever.
Learn + Play

This year Passover will be from April 8th to the 16th—and, in the middle of a pandemic. This means that beloved traditions may be harder to make happen. Gathering with family and friends for a Seder likely is not possible, and you may find yourself feeling pretty upset about the changes.

First, allow yourself the space to be sad. Passover is a very important holiday, and it's understandable to feel disappointed that so much may need to change this year.

Next, consider how you might be able to use virtual connections—can you FaceTime your family into your living room?

This might also be a wonderful time to incorporate new traditions, especially ones that allow your kids to participate in the Seder.

Here are 8 kid-friendly ways to celebrate Passover this year:

1. Review the meaning behind the traditions

Kids are naturally curious, especially where stories are involved. Before their questions start coming in, it would be helpful to review the story of Passover, along with the meaning behind the traditions, on your own. This article from Time Magazine gives a great overview of Passover (and will likely reignite your own curiosity, too!).

2. Find a kid-friendly Passover story

The Passover story is beautiful...and pretty scary, especially for a younger audience. Luckily, there are some excellent kid-friendly versions of the story out there that convey the meaning, but leave out the frightening details—we'll save talking about the plagues until they're a little older. Here are a few to check out:

3. Bring the story to life

passover_story

With Love, Ima

Kids love stories—especially when they can visualize what's going on. These adorable finger puppet templates are so fun, and will help your child appreciate the magic and power of the Passover story.

4. Explain the Seder in a way kids can understand

The Seder is, of course, at the center of the Passover holiday. There are so many unique ways to have a Seder so feel free to get creative and make it work for you. If your child will participate in the Seder, they'll likely want to understand what's going on! Chabad's brief overview of the Passover Seder is perfect for concise, easy-to-understand answers.

5. Make matzo ball soup! 🥄

Matzo ball soup is the quintessential Passover food—and your kids will love helping roll the balls! If you don't have a traditional family recipe, this matzo ball soup recipe from the New York Times gets stellar reviews. And, this lemony-twist on the traditional recipe looks unreal, if you are looking for something a bit different this year.

6. Make a cup for Elijah

cup for Elijah

Tori Avie

One of the beloved traditions of the Seder is to set out a cup of wine for Elijah. Why not let your kids make it? We love this DIY cup (and totally understand if you want to make one, too.)

7. Find the afikomen

afikomen

Creative Jewish Mom

When a Seder starts, a piece of matzo is broken, and hidden for your children find. This activity is fun on it's own. Enhance it by making a DIY no-sew Afikomen pouch.

8. Read a child-friendly Haggadah

kids_haggadah

The Haggadah is the book used during the Seder to guide the telling of the story and the traditions. Finding a children's version of the Haggadah is a great way to get them involved and keep them interested.

The Kveller Haggadah: A Seder for Curious Kids (and their Grownups) is an awesome choice.

Lifestyle

During a recent coronavirus press briefing at the White House, Dr. Deborah Birx, a leading physician on the federal coronavirus response team, emphasized the critical importance of social distancing over the next two weeks. Referring to the guidelines issued in March by the White House, Dr. Birx has been widely quoted as saying:

"This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe, and that means everybody doing the 6 feet distancing, washing your hands."

Dr. Birx's comment has been interpreted as advising Americans to avoid grocery shopping in stores for the next two weeks. While most people already know the importance of doing their part to slow the spread of coronavirus, following this particular advice may be a challenge for many families.

FEATURED VIDEO

Snagging a grocery delivery spot or curbside pickup slot has become next to impossible in most areas (assuming delivery is available), and online grocery services are struggling to keep up with demand. And with a growing number of at-risk delivery service workers demanding better on-the-job protections, you may be having second thoughts about using delivery services, even if you can find a slot.

You may find, despite your best efforts, that you just have to go to the store.

If you do need to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy during this time, here's what you should know in order to shop safely.

1. Have a plan

Minimize your trips to the store as much as you can, and time your shopping trip for a day and time that foot traffic is as low as possible (so, not on Saturday afternoon, if you can avoid it). Early in the day is a good time to go, since aisles tend to be less crowded, and stores are at their cleanest right after opening. Many stores are offering special hours for older and immunocompromised customers—if you're pregnant, consider shopping during these hours. Shop by yourself if at all possible.

2. Make a detailed list

In order to complete your shopping as quickly as possible, make a detailed list in advance, and organize your list by grocery section—produce, dairy, meats, baking needs, household items, and so on—so that you can move swiftly through each section of the store. For in-demand items such as bread, meat, sauces and pasta, think of alternatives in advance so you can grab "plan B" if you need to. Experts suggest making a paper list that can be disposed of rather than using your phone in the store.

3. Wear a mask

The CDC and the White House have advised Americans to wear homemade masks to add an extra level of protection when out and about. To protect yourself and the grocery store staff who are working hard to provide much-needed supplies during a stressful time, wearing a mask is now the recommended (and considerate) choice.

4. Follow hygiene and social distancing guidelines

You know the drill, mama. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after you shop. Many stores are offering wipes for shopping cart handles, so make sure you use them to wipe down the cart handle. (You may want to bring your own wipes just in case, if you have them.) Bring hand sanitizer, and use it after you touch freezer case handles or other surfaces. As you can guess, now's not the time to squeeze half a dozen avocados to check for ripeness—touch only the items you intend to buy. Maintain physical distance between yourself and other shoppers as well as grocery store workers.

5. Bag your own groceries

Follow your store's guidelines for reusable bags (which have been temporarily prohibited in some stores), but whether you bring your own bags or use the bags provided by the store, be prepared to bag your own purchases.

6. Don't make yourself crazy with disinfecting purchases

Should you wipe down every last strawberry and Cheerio when you get home? The good news is, it's probably not necessary to disinfect every item you buy. Experts still say that the virus is much more likely to be transmitted person-to-person, rather than surface-to-person.

While there's a lot that's not yet known about the virus, here are the steps experts recommend when you bring your groceries home:

  • Wash nonporous containers: According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19." But Consumer Reports suggests that there's no harm in washing or wiping cans, plastic containers and glass based on its interviews with epidemiologists and experts.
  • Wipe cardboard containers: A March 2020 study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases suggests that the coronavirus can survive on cardboard surfaces for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to 3 days. So while experts say the odds of a box of pasta transmitting the virus are slim, wiping boxes with a disinfecting wipe can't hurt.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables with water: Experts say that food is unlikely to transmit coronavirus, but you should always wash produce anyway to remove pesticides.

7. Wipe your counters after you unpack and wash your hands.

Once all your purchases are stored, clean your counters with a disinfecting spray, and wash your hands again.

News
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