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It’s almost teacher appreciation week!  Time to say thank you to the tireless individuals who challenge the minds of our little ones, support them both academically and socially, and inspire them to think big about their future.


How are you going to show your appreciation?

Parent Co asked a handful of teachers – from preschool to high school – to tell us what some of their most meaningful teacher appreciation gifts have been over the years.  We invited them to tell us not only about the “things” that students and parents have given them, but the other gifts of words, time, or thoughts that have meant something to them.  So before you buy that “World’s Greatest Teacher” mug check out what teachers have to say about the best gifts they have received.

1 | Thank you notes

This simple solution was mentioned by almost every teacher we talked to –genuinely being thanked for their work.  “I do feel that at times parents spend way too much on their child’s teacher and completely miss what teachers actually appreciate most, a simple thank you.  When parents thank teachers for their work with their child it really means a lot.

This is especially true when they use examples of specific things the teacher did, such as a learning activity or project their child really enjoyed or growth that they have seen in their child.”  Handwritten pictures and notes from children are equally valued for their simplicity and thoughtfulness.

2 | Memory jar

Taking the thank you note idea to the next level, one teacher told us how a room mother gathered comments on the best memories that kids and parents had of their time together in the classroom.  She put them on separate sheets of paper and stuffed them into a jar for the teacher to take out and read.

“The memory that is still taped to my desk is a handwritten note from a student that says ‘when I crushed my spelling test.’ This student used to tell me that he was going ‘to crush this’ when he thought he was going to do a good job. This message spread to the rest of the class…it became a motto!”

3 | A donation in the teacher’s honor

One teacher mentioned that he liked to “pay it forward” by inviting parents to make a donation to a charitable organization that he supports in lieu of shopping for a gift.

“In the past, I have sent a note out prior to gift time thanking families for their generosity and suggesting charitable organizations they could support in lieu of traditional gifts. I make it very clear that there is NO pressure for any gifts at all, but many families have expressed thanks- a gift in a teacher’s name is a little less stressful than determining a ‘thoughtful’ gift!”

4 | Your time as a volunteer

“I don’t know if this counts as a gift,” one teacher said, “but it’s great when parents can come into the classroom and do a special activity, share their knowledge about a specific subject with the class, or just help out.”

Teachers have a lot of planning to do every day to keep our kids engaged; if we have something to contribute we can lighten their load even just for an hour.  Do this just once and you’ll have a newfound appreciation for how much work it takes to keep a group of kids interested and paying attention for an hour much less a whole day!

5 | Build a bouquet

If you can get the whole class on the same page, have each child bring the teacher one flower.  Put them together and the teacher has a beautiful bouquet for her desk or to bring home.  This group gift reminds her of each kid in the class without cluttering her desk (or a drawer at home) with a bunch of separate gifts.

6 | Lunch break

This takes a bit more planning, but a couple of teachers have had parents bring them a special lunch during teacher appreciation week.

“The greatest ‘Teacher Appreciation’ event ever was when a group of parents came in before our lunch period, decorated our team’s break room with flowers and table cloths (!), and served us lunch during our lunch break. Parents actually served the sandwiches and beverages while we all chatted.  I think the monetary cost was minimal (donated flowers and multiple parents chipping in on food) but the impact of “getting away” in the middle of the day was amazing.  I think this happened three years ago and we still talk about that amazing lunch not infrequently.”

Heads up – there are also a few things that teachers quietly and politely said we could discourage.

Gift cards are nice if they are for places where teachers actually shop, but a pile of gift cards to a big chain coffee shop doesn’t do much good if the teacher prefers to go to their local coffee shop.  Likewise, teachers get a lot of candles and mugs.  There are only so many candles they can burn in a given year.  The caveat – a homemade candle made by your child from your own beeswax was a noted exception (possibly because this author raises bees and the teacher was a friend).

The lesson here is this – while teachers appreciate your gifts, they don’t want you to spend loads of money on gifts that won’t get a lot of use or aren’t from the heart.  They remember the gifts that make them feel special, help them to take a “time out” from the stress of their work, and reinforce the value of the time they spend with our kids.

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

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.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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