Schools and borders are closing, kids are asking questions about coronavirus and parents are asking questions about the gaps in America's health care system and whether a country can be protected from a pandemic when it doesn't protect every citizen's health.

That's why this week's guest on The Motherly Podcast is public health and international relations expert (and former first daughter) Chelsea Clinton, whose organization Too Small to Fail (an initiative of the Clinton Foundation) is helping families get through the pandemic.

On the second episode of season three, Clinton tells Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety Clinton that her interest in public health stemmed from an interest in the inequalities in our society and how they make all of us vulnerable. Clinton believes "we are living in a moment where we see kind of the consequences" of how inequality impacts public health.


"Perhaps not surprisingly, I have been distraught at the multiple failures of leadership out of this administration," she tells Tenety, speaking specifically from a public health perspective. "China really, you know, bought the world time, effectively, and some countries used that time," she said, highlighting efforts in Singapore, South Korea and Japan, "and some countries didn't, as we're seeing here in the United States."

Clinton says there's still several actions she would like to see come from America's leadership, including paid sick leave, laws to stop evictions and ICE raids, basic income supports and "ensuring that everyone in our prisons has access to soap and hand sanitizer and also like good ventilation and good food, things that also should be happening otherwise."

There is movement on this front. Over the weekend the House passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address the coronavirus pandemic. Spearheaded by Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the bipartisan legislative package expands funding for Medicaid and offers paid emergency leave for many (but as critics have pointed out, not all) workers. An additional legislative package is now in progress, and progress on this front is good news for Clinton.

"We need a much more comprehensive approach to protect public health than we have Liz. And we also need to be doing everything we can to support the families...and paid sick leave and kind of guaranteed income in this moment, is part of that. And the President has said he wants to cut the payroll tax, and if he wants to do that, that's also great, but that is not sufficient for people who then do not have a paycheck to receive it tax cut from."

Those are the kind of changes that need to come from the top or from voters in November, but Clinton reminds us that there are small things those of means can do right now to help people during the pandemic that is interrupting daily life and people's ability to earn an income.

"Like in Seattle, we saw people stopped paying their dog walkers. Like, keep paying your dog walkers, keep ordering your groceries, even if you've stocked up, you know as much as you can. Continue. For those of us who have discretionary income, continue to kind of spend money where you can so that you are helping to support the people around you, because there is a real responsibility for all of us to protect each other right now," she tells Tenety.

Clinton continues: "But this is really why we need government because even if everyone in Seattle is paying their dog walkers, that is no substitute for the government providing paid sick leave and income support."

As a public health expert and a mom, Clinton is urging her fellow Americans to stay serious about "social distancing and washing our hands and demanding better for our government."

The mission of Too Small to Fail is to promote the importance of early childhood development and the organization does that by meeting parents where they are—in laundromats, pediatricians offices and other public spaces—and now that parents are avoiding public spaces it is hooking parents up with a staycation toolkit because we can engage little brains during this pandemic.

For more from Clinton and Tenety's conversation listen to The Motherly Podcast for the full interview.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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