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It's something parents of school-aged kids have asked countless times, and The Atlantic asked it, too: Why does the school day end two hours before the workday?

The question became the headline of a viral piece by writer Kara Voght in 2018. In 2019, the question was on the lips of parents in so many communities, from Salt Lake City to Chicago to New York State, where funding issues threaten after school care programs.

Working parents have been sharing the link because for many moms and dads who don't leave work until five o'clock, the question of what to do with their child when the school bell rings at three is constantly looming.

There is a child care crisis in America (and in other countries, like Australia and Canada) and many parents are scrambling to fill the gap between the end of the school day and the end of their workday.

The after school care crisis

As Voght points out for The Atlantic, "Seventy-five percent of women with school-age children now work. Yet fewer than half of American public schools offer an after-school program," and in many communities the wait-lists for after-school care are frustratingly long.

According to the After School Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to advocating for after school care, "for every child in an afterschool program, approximately two more children would be enrolled if a program were available to them."

There simply aren't enough programs or enough spaces for all the kids who need after-school care, and finding alternatives is tough. Most nannies aren't lining up to work just a couple of hours per day, and even if parents find a nanny, babysitter or private daycare that can accommodate their schedule (and pick up the children from school or meet them at the bus stop), that kind of care is an expensive solution that's out of reach for most.

So when parents can't get after-school care through school or community programs, families have to make difficult choices. Often, mothers are forced to cut back on their working hours. In this way, the gap between the end of the school day and the end of the workday is a factor in the gender wage gap.

The economic and social costs of misaligned schedules

A 2016 report by the Centers for American Progress suggests "misaligned school schedules cost the U.S. economy $55 billion in lost productivity annually...First, they result in lower levels of full-time employment among women with elementary-school-age children...Second, the economy loses productivity due to school closings. When school is closed, many parents have to take time off from work in order to care for their children."

Indeed, CAP found that schools don't have classes on 29 days per school year. This doesn't include summer break, but does factor in things like staff training days and federal and state holidays. Add to that the half-days that are increasingly popping up on school calendars, and family schedules get even further out of sync.

When parents simply can't miss work to be there after school or on a staff training day, some children are left unsupervised. This puts them at an increased risk for sedentary screen time, poor food choices and high-risk social behavior. According to the Centers for Disease Control, after-school programs or "Out of School Time" programs, can help improve a kid's report card and their health.

Unfortunately, as Voght points out for The Atlantic, 3% of elementary-school students and 19% of middle-school students look after themselves from 3 to 6 p.m. after school.

So what's the solution here?

Mother walking son (6-7) to school

Extending the school day to typical office hours would be cost-prohibitive for many schools, and some parents are not in favor of longer school hours, worrying that kids are already overburdened with homework and burnout. Some point to Finland and its short school days and light homework loads as an example of educational success. There, children attend school from about 9 AM to 2 PM, and the Nordic country is known for its excellent test scores.

But here's the thing about Finland: People there work shorter hours than the average American.

According to Statistics Finland, 71% of full-time workers put in 35 to 40 hours in 2016, and a large minority, 19% had a usual workweek of 30 to 34 hours. Only 10% were typically working more than 40 hours a week.

In America, more than 40 hours is the norm, not the exception. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, the average U.S. worker is putting in 47 hours a week, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics' numbers are only slightly better, at 44 hours.

Maybe the answer to the after-school care crisis isn't just about making the school day longer, but also making parents' workdays shorter—or at least more flexible.

[A version of this post was originally published September 10, 2018. It has been updated.]

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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.

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"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!

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Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

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Gabrielle Union + Dwyane Wade have been blended family goals, an inspiration to those struggling with infertility and now they are an inspiration to parents of trans kids and supporters of trans rights.

Earlier this month Wade appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and spoke about his 12-year-old daughter Zaya coming out as transgender and Union posted a beautiful video + caption to Instagram, inviting fans to "meet Zaya."

This week Wade appeared on Good Morning America, explaining that Zaya has known she was transgender since she was 3 years old.

"Zaya has known it for nine years," the proud dad said on GMA, adding that he credits Zaya (who was assigned as male at birth) with educating him and helping him grow.

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"I knew early on that I had to check myself... I've been a person in the locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words myself," he told GMA's Robin Roberts. "My daughter was my first interaction when it comes to having to deal with this conversation...Hopefully I'm dealing with it the right way... Inside our home we see the smile on my daughter's face, we see the confidence that she's able to walk around and be herself and that's when you know you're doing right."

It sure seems like Wade and Union have been doing it right. When Union posted a video to Instagram earlier this month introducing Zaya it was clear the tween's dad and step-mom have her back.

In the video Zaya is riding in a golf cart with her dad and dropping wisdom. She says: "Just be true to yourself, because what's the point of even living on this earth if you're going to try to be someone you're not?...Be true and don't really care what the 'stereotypical' way of being you is."

Union was so impressed by her step-daughter, captioning the video: "She's compassionate, loving, whip smart and we are so proud of her. It's Ok to listen to, love & respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people."

Later in the week Union addressed criticism of Zaya's transition on Twitter, writing: "This has been a journey. We're still humbly learning but we decided quickly w/ our family that we wouldn't be led by fear. We refuse to sacrifice the freedom to live authentically becuz we are afraid of what ppl might say. U have the ability to learn & evolve."

Zaya's big brother is also on her side. Newly 18-year-old Zaire posted the cutest throwback pic from when he and Zaya were just little kids, noting how the siblings were and are best friends.

"Man, I remember bugging my mom as a kid telling her I wanted a brother so bad. I was the only child looking for company and someone to look after and take care of," Zaire began his caption. "I have been blessed to have my best friend, Zaya with me for 12 years. We did everything together … we fought, we played, we laughed and we cried. But the one thing we never did was leave each other behind."

Zaire continued: "I've told you that I would lay my life down to make sure you are ten toes down and happy on this earth," he told his younger sibling. "I don't care what they think Z, you are my best friend and I love you kid, and if it means anything, just know there's no love lost on this side ✊🏾"

We are so impressed and inspired by the love Zaya's family is showing her (and other kids by sharing this story publicly). You've got this Zaya!

[A version of this story was posted February 12, 2020. It has been updated.]

News

Back in August the the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Contigo announced the recall of millions of Contigo Kids Cleanable water bottles—about 5.7 million of them.

Now, the CPSC and Contigo are recalling millions of water bottles and the replacement lids that were given to consumers as part of the August 2019 recall.

"Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled water bottles and the replacement lids provided in the previous recall, take them away from children, and contact Contigo for a free water bottle. Consumers who received replacement lids in the previous recall should contact Contigo for the new water bottle," the CPSC states.

Millions of Contigo Kids Cleanable water bottles were originally recalled after it became clear the silicone spout could pose a choking hazard.

"Contigo identified that the water bottle's clear silicone spout in some cases may detach from the lid of the water bottle," Contigo stated in a notice posted to its Facebook page back in August.

According to the CPSC, "Contigo [had] received 149 reports of the spout detaching including 18 spouts found in children's mouths" before the original recall.

Now, the CPSC reports "Contigo has received a total of 427 reports of the spout detaching including 27 spouts found in children's mouths."

All of the recalled water bottles have a black color spout base and spout cover.

This week Contigo expanded the recall. The original date range was for Contigo Kids Cleanable Water Bottle from April 2018 through June 2019. Now it is for bottles purchased through February 2020, and all the replacement lids.

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If you are looking for some alternative water bottles, here are a few of our favorites:

Hydro Flask

Hydro Flask features an easy-to-drink (and clean) top, a silicone bottom that won't scratch your furniture.

Motherly has tested these with a two-year-old and an eight-year-old and found these bottles are perfect for Pre-K to elementary school.

$29.95

CamelBak

The CamelBak is a big hit with little kids as it is easy to maneuver and it's a big hit with moms because it is easy to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher. CamelBak Eddy 12 oz Kids Vacuum Stainless Water Bottle

$14.99

Skip Hop

The designs on the Skip Hop stainless steel bottle keep kids happy and the silicone sleeve keeps the bottle from falling out of little hands! Bonus points for a flexible straw that is easy to clean!

$17.99


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

{A version of this story was originally posted August 27, 2019. It has been updated.]

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