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Any time we’re lucky enough to go on vacation for a few days, I tend to forget all of the anxiety my daughter carries with her. 

I get so lost in thinking about what a fantastic time we’re going to have. I spend my time looking at Pinterest to discover the wonderful possibilities our family vacation could hold. And I forget to talk with my daughter about the things she’s worried about during the vacation.

If your child is a worrier, especially if they have the smarts to concoct tons of troubling scenarios in their head, but lacks the communication skills to actually share those scenarios, then you know what a challenge this can become! 


Anxiety can show up in mild forms of worry, to all out panic for some, where the individual can display very different reactions than are typical for her or him. This may manifest as defiance, which is generally the case in our household. 

Family vacations should be relaxing for everyone. Parents can help their little worriers enjoy the trip by keeping in mind a few tips I’ve learned over the years from various books, therapists, and experience.

1 | Preview, preview, preview

Parents can preview the vacation with their children in the weeks leading up to the trip. This type of preview should include a general schedule of the vacation, like dates and times of travel, as well as any big destinations or events. 

When we took a trip to Denver a few years ago, we shared with my daughter pictures of the airport, videos of airplanes landing and taking off (be careful with these videos as they are quickly linked on YouTube to videos of airplanes crashing) and photos of the hotel where we’d be staying. 

Sharing visuals to preview what and where your vacation will look like is an easy way to ease any fears that may creep into their minds. This can also be a starting point for a discussion about their concerns. Even if they’re unable to vocalize the fears they have, they can point to the pictures or videos you’re showing them. 

2 | Social stories

At its heart, social stories are tools that help kids navigate situations that could become overwhelming, work on changing a behavior, or teach a new skill.

Research shows that social stories have been successful for individuals with autism, but they have also been extremely successful for kids who are anxious, struggle with navigating social situations, or are prone to meltdowns.  

Creating a social story for a child’s vacation is like writing the itinerary in a story format. At its most basic level, it lists what someone can expect during a specific event or time. Reading the story over a few times before and during the vacation will help the anxious child mentally prepare for what to expect. 

3 | Ask specific questions

Instead of using open-ended questions, which usually result in one-word answers, ask your child specific questions about the vacation. Asking what your child is most looking forward to or what she thinks will be boring will give you much more information than simply asking if the kid is excited for vacation.

Questions that will give parents more insight into a child’s worries for vacation include:

What are you going to pack for vacation? Take note of any odd items they include, as this may lead to additional insight into any fears or worries. Ask follow-up questions like, “Why do you think you need to bring a flashlight?” This may lead to an interesting conversation about the fear of a possible power outage or bad weather.

What activity are you looking forward to the most? The least?  My daughter refused to swim in Lake Michigan on our last trip because of a fear of alligators. So we studied the habitats of alligators and were relieved to learn alligators do not live in Lake Michigan. When an innocent beach-goer brought a life-sized alligator float to the beach, my daughter did freak out for a moment. She recovered nicely, though, because of our prep work. If we hadn’t studied the habitats, though, and she didn’t share her festering worry, she would have most likely melted down and refused to go near the water.

What do you want to do on our vacation? What do you want to skip? This gives your child another opening to share their own feelings of excitement and worry with you. Sometimes children can get so overwhelmed with feelings, they don’t share their extensive plans clearly.  Giving them multiple paths to chat is another great way to prepare for a vacation. 

Have any of your friends gone on vacation to (insert vacation location)? Questions like this get any preconceived notions out into the open. If a friend has been to the location before and had a great time, chances are your child’s expectations have increased or they are looking forward to the trip. If the friend did not have a fun time, this could exacerbate your child’s worries about the trip. 

4 | Respect your child’s feelings

Be aware of how you respond as your child shares their concerns or even comments on the vacation. My daughter was always very frightened of her great-grandparents. This was odd to my husband and me because they are the sweetest people. Anytime we would ask our daughter why she acted so scared, her response was the same, “They have white hair.” 

What does a parent say to that? We would often squash her feelings down by saying, “That’s not a reason to be scared.” 

One day my daughter was feeling particularly open about her worries and shared with me that what she meant was that the great-grandparents in question were old, very old in fact. So old that what my daughter meant by saying they have white hair, is that she was worried they would die while she was in the room. Each time we told her to not worry about their white hair, we were basically telling her that she shouldn’t worry if an old person would die right in front of her. 

Now when we go to a party with the great-grandparents in attendance, I try to relieve my daughter’s worries by saying that, “Grandma and Grandpa must feel pretty good today. If they felt like coming to a party, they probably don’t feel like they will die today.” 

5 | Avoid surprises

Change is hard, but especially for kids who struggle with transitions. Ease the level of anxiety in your child by giving him lots of time to prepare for the change. Instead of suddenly leaving a fun park, let him know when he has 10 minutes left. Then give him a five-minute warning. As it is nearing time to leave, ask your kids what they’d like to do as their last activity before leaving the park.

The more you can prepare your child for a change, the less likely they’ll feel overwhelmed. This will lead to fewer meltdowns and a more memorable vacation for everyone. 

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"

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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)


Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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