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Alexis Ohanian's emotional experience shines a light on why *all* dads deserve paid leave

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History has recognized Reddit co-founder and venture capitalist Alexis Ohanian as a key player in the evolution of the internet and years from now it might recognize him as a key player in the evolution of paid parental leave in America. Since taking leave after the birth of his daughter, Olympia, Ohanian has been repeatedly telling the world that, of all the impressive things he's done in his life, taking the time to be with his newborn daughter and support his wife, Serena Williams, was one of the most important decisions he's ever made.

That's why Ohanian joined fellow fathers, with the support of Dove Men+Care and the non-profit Paid Leave US (PL+US), on Capitol Hill this month to press lawmakers for change. He wants all fathers to be able to do what he did and for paternity leave to be normalized in the American workplace. Ohanian met with Senators and Members of Congress and took time to speak with Motherly about why the fight for paid leave is so important.

Here are five reasons Alexis Ohanian is so obsessed with advancing paternity leave:

1. Mothers need not just time to heal, but support to do so 

Serena Williams' birth experience was traumatic and required a long recovery period. She was lucky to be alive after suffering a pulmonary embolism after her emergency C-section.

She was also lucky to have a partner who had the privilege of taking leave. "A lot of folks saw a glimpse into this through the HBO documentary. The reality was, after all the complications and a number of surgeries that my wife had including a C-section but then multiple others, there was very little she could do in those first few weeks just physically. And I had to help her with a lot of it," Ohanian tells Motherly.

Williams' birth experience was difficult, but the truth is that recovering from birth (especially a C-section) is generally difficult even under the best of circumstances. It takes time to recover. Mothers need help. And when a mom's partner has to head back to work just a couple of days after it takes a toll physically and mentally.

Research shows that when dads take paternity leave, moms are 14% less likely to be admitted to a hospital for birth-related issues within the first six months of childbirth.

Ohanian was there to change the diapers or pick up his daughter in the middle of the night, actions that helped his wife heal. "[These] were things that I was very willing to take on because it felt like the least I could do for a woman who had already sacrificed so much to just bring her into the world, to bring Olympia into the world," he explains.

2. Dads need time to bond with their babies 

When dads get to take parental leave they become more confident parents and are more likely to be equal participants in childcare years later. Ohanian has experienced this firsthand. He tells Motherly he went from having no experience with babies to having a crash course in caring for his daughter. Spending those early weeks with her taught him he was completely capable of overcoming parenting challenges.

"I was quickly learning how to thaw breast milk in the middle of the night, and feed my kid and change her diaper. I got really good at using the Snoo, the smart bed, to help her get back to sleep," he explains. "These are all just things that I was in no way qualified to do but was able to learn and that really gave me the confidence. Now, Olympia is a super active 2-year-old, and it gives me confidence anytime there's some new challenge or new thing. It gives me the confidence to know that I can handle it. And that's a true gift that came from having that paternity leave."

3. Paid parental leave impacts productivity (in a good way)

Ohanian tells Motherly making paid leave available to fathers (and encouraging them to actually take it) is an opportunity for businesses to get more value out of an employee. "When they are back in the office they are going to be more engaged because they're not as worried about the things going on at home with their newborn and their family. They're going to be more productive," he tells Motherly.

Surveys of businesses in states with paid leave laws suggest implementing paid leave has a positive impact on worker productivity and that employers notice workers who take parental leave are less stressed when they come back to work. "There's a growing body of work that just shows this is, from a business standpoint, this is a smart, smart decision," he explains.

4. Fathers want to be more involved than ever before

Ohanian says he is happy to see the men of his generation flipping the script on the bumbling dad trope and talking about how they are just as capable parents as mothers are. "It is like a lazy shtick that has been ingrained in such a big part of the popular culture. But the reality is social media has allowed us to push from the bottom up messages and examples of dads being competent dads," Ohanian says.

Olympia loves her mama, but she's growing up knowing that her dad, too, is fully capable of helping her with whatever she needs. "Admittedly Olympia at this age is basically Serena's shadow. She loves her mom, like adores her, which is great," he explains.

The Reddit co-founder loves to see examples of great fathers on Reddit and in his social media feeds. "That's normalizing behavior that we've never really seen from the top down," he explains.

5. Paid parental leave shouldn't be a privilege—but a right 

Ohanian has talked a lot about how lucky he was to be able to take paternity leave in the first place. "It helped that I was a founder and didn't have to worry about what people might say about my 'commitment' to the company," he previously wrote in an essay for Glamour.

He took 16 weeks of parental leave in a country where there is no national paid parental leave plan, but even in countries where parents do have access to paid leave, dads don't take all that they can. As Motherly previously reported, a report from Dove Men+Care and Promundo (a global organization dedicated to gender equality) found 85% of dads surveyed in the United States, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands would do anything to be very involved in the early weeks and months after their child's birth or adoption, but less than 50% of fathers take as much time as they are entitled to.

Ohanian wants all fathers in America to have access to paid leave, and wants all fathers who already have access to feel comfortable taking it. In his conversation with Motherly, Ohanian offered this advice to dads to want to take leave but are afraid how their bosses will react:

"Look, if they're one of the few American men who even have the opportunity, (less than one in five men in the US), you're already one of the lucky few. And so I would say, if you're that fortunate to even have the opportunity, absolutely take advantage of it. And if your boss tries to give you any sass, tell him that the guy who created Reddit and runs a half billion dollar early stage venture capital fund felt like he was—not just a worthy business leader—but was better because he took that time off."

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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.


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British mom Courtney Barker is sharing the story of how her son, 7-month-old Arthur contracted COVID-19 in the hopes of preventing other families from going through what hers is. Thankfully, little Arthur is now feeling better, but last week he was rushed to the hospital.

His mama recalled the experience in a now-viral Facebook post that is attracting worldwide attention.

On Sunday, Barker wrote the post, pleading with others to take self-isolating more seriously after hearing Arthur's story. In Barker's immediate family three people are classified as high risk, so her husband was the only one to leave the home in the last four weeks, making two essential grocery runs.

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"Yet it has still managed to make its way into our house," Barker wrote on Facebook.

When Arthur came down with a fever and became unconscious and floppy his parents took action to get him medical attention right away. "We never thought it would happen to us because we were so careful," Barker tells Motherly, adding that she chose to share her story on social media because she doesn't want other families "to take even just an ounce of risk" when it comes to spreading the novel coronavirus.

"So PLEASE STAY HOME!" she wrote in her widely-shared post. "If you do have to leave wear gloves and a medical mask. When you get home strip off and wash everything!"

(In North America the CDC and Health Canada have asked medical masks to be reserved for medical personnel and recommend citizens use DIY cloth masks instead.)

Arthur's dad may have come into contact with someone who was positive for COVID-19 but asymptomatic on his grocery runs. That's the point of masks, to prevent asymptomatic people who don't know they are sick from spreading respiratory droplets.

Barker tells Motherly she's encouraging everyone to be as careful as possible and is asking other moms to consider all the activities they can do with their kids at home or in their own backyard instead of in public places like parks and playgrounds.

"I just wish people would take it more seriously before it's too late for them and they end up in our situation or even worse than us," she says.

Thankfully, Arthur's story has a happy ending. In an update on Facebook Barker explains: "Arthur's temperature has gone down, and he is even smiling and sitting up playing! I can't believe In just five days he went from a poorly unconscious little baby to a happy smiling baby again!"

We're so glad Arthur is doing better. Most children who get COVID-19 do have less severe symptoms than adults, but as Barker says it is still so important for families to listen to the recommendations of health authorities in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Over the last few weeks, many of the things we used to take for granted have been taken or transformed due to the coronavirus pandemic and grocery delivery is one of them.

The old days of having your food delivered or your click-and-collect order ready for pick up an hour or two after selecting your groceries through an app are gone (for now), but grocery delivery isn't. We just have to do things a little differently.

Parents have been frustrated—and sometimes even frightened—by the lack of grocery delivery options (especially when one of America's top doctors is saying now is not the time for parents to go grocery shopping) but thankfully, entire industries are pivoting to meet the new demand for home delivery.

If you haven't been able to get groceries delivered lately, new options are springing up to serve you, mama.

Here are some of the new ways to get food without going out:

Call a cab:

In many communities in North America, taxi companies are pivoting to food delivery as they've now got so few people to ferry about. Call your local cab companies and ask if they do food delivery. They may not be able to do the shopping for you, but if your grocery store offers curbside pick-up or click-and-collect they can save you the trip.

Use Door Dash or Postmates:

if you're just trying to get some paper towels or a few smaller items to get you through to your next large grocery shop you can use Door Dash, previously best known for delivering takeout restaurant food, to order staples like diapers, boxes of cereal, milk, sugar and eggs from convenience stores.

Postmates, too, is pivoting into the grocery game and can deliver things like diapers, dog food, fresh fruit and baking powder through its Postmates Fresh service (depending on your area). In some areas you can even use Postmates to place an order from Duane Reed or Walgreens.

Your local markets may be delivering:

It's worth calling your local independent grocery stores to see if they are delivering—many smaller businesses are now offering delivery services as a way to keep customers during the pandemic. It takes some work to call around and find out what the options are in your community but it's totally worth it to get your groceries delivered (with the bonus of supporting your local businesses).

Small specialty stores are also getting into the delivery game:

Don't ignore the specialty shops. Many little butchers, bakeries and natural food stores are willing to deliver to customers right now. This pandemic is forcing us apart but in some ways it's also forcing us to connect with our communities in ways we have not done before.

Make the most of weekly produce boxes:

If you've never signed up for a veggie co-op (sometimes known as community supported agriculture boxes) now is a great time to check them out. Around the country farmers, farmers markets and organic retailers offer weekly or bi-weekly delivered boxes of locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables delivered to your door.

If that sounds too fancy for your budget right now check out the Misfits Market box, which offers slightly ugly fruits and veg for 40% less than grocery store prices (just pop your zip code in to see if they deliver to your area.

Ask for help:

Delivery fees can add up, so if that's not in your budget right now you can contact your local government, community groups and churches for leads on grocery delivery help. You can also try using Facebook's new Request Help feature to ask others in your community to add your grocery pick up to their run.

An update on standard grocery delivery options:

Instacart's just launched new features to try to get groceries to you faster 

Instacart

When the pandemic confined us to our homes the demand for grocery delivery overwhelmed stores and services that previously offered it, but several companies tell Motherly things are getting back to normal.

While many parents have found it nearly impossible to get groceries via Instacart. the company just launched a couple of new features to help speed things up. The new features are called "Fast & Flexible" and "Order Ahead."

Fast and Flexible "gives customers the option to have their order delivered by the first available shopper, rather than schedule it for a specific delivery window," Instacart states in a news release.

Order Ahead allows customers to now place orders up to two weeks in advance, something that could be really handy as we're all a bit more practical with our menu planning now that we can't run out to the store.

While labor concerns have been an issue for Instacart (and customers who are concerned about the well-being of the people delivering groceries), the company says it has "worked over the last several weeks with several third-party manufacturers, in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts, to source and develop new health and safety kits for shoppers that include face masks, hand sanitizer and thermometers."

Walmart + Amazon are also ramping up delivery capacity

In a statement to Motherly, a Walmart spokesperson explained the company is obviously seeing a huge increase in demand for pickup and delivery services and is trying to offer time slots as soon as possible, but within a shorter time frame than usual.
"It will allow us to better serve our customers during this busy time. We're continuing to work hard to add more availability for pickup and delivery," they explain.

Amazon, too, is making changes to increase capacity, including suspending it's third-party delivery service to focus more on fulfilling essential household deliveries.

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Of course we're all struggling during the coronavirus quarantine but we might think celebrities aren't in the same boat. Surely they're not struggling too. It's probably a total walk in the park for them.

Well, recently, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her new normal on the at-home edition of The Ellen DeGeneres show and revealed that she's having some difficulty, too. On the show DeGeneres asked who in their household homeschools their four children and the singer shared that she was doing the majority of it—but it hasn't been easy.

"Honestly, I think we're all like, what is this? I'm not a teacher, and also, have you seen the math that they make the kids do now? It's a new math," she said. "Half the time I'm like, 'Okay, yeah, let's look up that word. It's been an experience, for sure."

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The lockdown isn't only adding a bit of anxiety around teaching her kids, but it's also affecting her wedding date—just like many others around the world. "Honestly, I really don't know what's going to happen as far as [wedding] dates or anything like that. We're just kind of in a holding pattern like the rest of the world. So again, it's something we will have to wait and see in a few months how this all pans out."

We stand with you, JLo. We'll get through it, mama.

News

When the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) recommended Americans start using homemade cloth face masks to protect against the coronavirus parents had a lot of questions that were not addressed in the initial White House briefing announcing the change.

Here are the answers to some of the common questions about the CDC's face mask recommendations:

1. Do babies need masks?

No, babies under 2 years old should not wear masks, according to the CDC, as they can increase the risk of suffocation. The CDC's website states: "Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance."

That is why experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital are asking the new cottage industry of mask makers to avoid marketing masks to parents of babies, writing: "These products (infant masks, masks attached to pacifiers, etc.) may pose more harm than benefit in terms of safety for children under the age of 2 years old."

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2. Does my child need to wear a mask to go outside?

It depends. If you've got an older child and you're hanging out in your own backyard a mask isn't necessary, but if you're taking your child on the bus or into a grocery store they are recommended.

The CDC wants people to wear masks when they are in a community setting, not to avoid catching COVID-19 but to avoid getting other people sick. "A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others," the CDC's guidance notes.

Or, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put it this week, "it protects others more than it protects you because it prevents you from breathing or speaking moistly on them."

Because children do not seem to get as sick as adults when they have COVID-19 they can unknowingly be carriers. The best way to protect our kids and our communities is to keep our children home, but if you absolutely must take your child out into your community a mask can protect the vulnerable.

3. Does my child have to wear a mask if we go out?

In some parts of the United States, local governments are requiring citizens to wear masks when they leave their homes, but the CDC's statement on face masks is only a recommendation.

Some kids, especially preschool-age children, will not keep a mask on their face. If that's the case for your child, wearing one will increase the likelihood that they will touch their face. As experts recommend keeping hands away from faces, anything that's going to make your kid touch their face even more isn't a good idea.

For more information on how to create a DIY mask as per the CDC recomendations, click here.






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