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To my girls,

You’re growing up so quickly it’s scary.


As your mum, I feel like it’s my responsibility do the best job I can to provide you with the tools to prepare you for the most fulfilled life you can possibly have.

When I was a child, I enjoyed living in the moment and didn’t think about the future. In my teens, I started to think about what job I’d do and what my husband might be like. But it’s only in the last few years that I’ve thought about how much the decisions I make affect my life – things I wish I’d thought about more when I was younger, in hindsight.

I’ve learned some lessons and had experiences growing up that I want to share with you when you are able to understand. I hope they help you in some way to develop into the wonderful women I know you’ll become.

So here goes:

Dream big

Discover your passions and pursue them. My hope for you is that you end up with a job you enjoy, one that fulfills you. Think carefully in school about what you would like to do. You may want to be anything from a lawyer to an air hostess or a counselor. Weigh all your options and ask questions.

Be kind

Think of others. Wonder why someone acts a certain way and try not to judge him or her for it. If you can, try to be there for that person. Everyone – and I mean everyone – faces a private battle you will know nothing about.

Count to 10

I’ll never forget hearing your gran say this to herself when things got tough. It allows you to take a moment before you react to something, and in many cases, it can stop you from saying something you might regret.

Be proud of your body

It is unique. No one body is the same as another, so please don’t compare yourself with others. Look after your body. Don’t look at it in the mirror and pick fault. It’s so much more important to be strong and healthy. Eating well and exercising are the most important things you can do to achieve this. You may have flaws and imperfections, but they make you you. Your body shape does not define you.

Don’t follow the crowd

As a schoolgirl, I found there were so many little cliques. Popular, geeky, clever, or sporty. You may feel you need to try and fit into one of these to be accepted. Choose friends who accept you for being you. Develop your own sense of style.

Peer pressure is a tough one to deal with. I remember quite a few friends trying smoking and drugs. I flat refused, knowing these things were wrong for me. Even though it made me feel like I didn’t fit in as well, those friends later said they admired me for standing my ground. And I was healthier for it. Do what you know is right for you and not because everyone else is doing it.

Be a good friend

Friends will come and go throughout your life. Don’t lose touch with the ones that matter. Just because they may be experiencing different things from you, it doesn’t mean you can’t be there for each other. Take time to really listen to them. They may need a good friend to support their decisions.

Look out for your sibling

You may not remember, but, Millie, you were an amazing sister when Eve was born. You’ll find your sister annoying at times, but when you’re older, I hope you’ll be best friends, like me and your aunties. There’s nothing that can compare with the experiences you share with each other. Family is important. Be there for them. Don’t let arguments or misunderstandings cause divisions. Life’s too short not to spend with those you love.

Don’t bottle things up

Cry if you need to. You will experience highs and lows. You need to share these with someone, good and bad. Talking is the best thing you can do. It can help you work things through and decide your next action. Don’t ever be ashamed of what you have to say, even if you feel vulnerable. You should always feel you can talk about anything with people you trust.

Don’t judge or hate others

The world can be a cruel place. It starts in school. Kids can be mean. You may experience it yourself or see it happening to your friends. People do things for a reason. They will pick on others or start wars because they are scared and insecure or jealous. Feel sad for them. If you find yourself caught up in the middle of anything, tell someone. Don’t let others make you feel inadequate, and don’t retaliate.

Love yourself and find those who love who you are

You need to be happy with who you are. Be proud and surround yourself with people who accept you. You will meet the right partner in time. You are unique and wonderful. Don’t ever pretend to be someone you’re not.

Go with your gut feeling

Sometimes in life you need to make tough decisions. Weigh your options, but in the end, go with what you feel is the right thing to do.

Don’t over-pluck your eyebrows or bleach your hair

Both fairly permanent disasters. I should know! In particular, steer clear of Sun In. I had to have my hair dyed for years until it finally grew out. It’s good to try different things to see what suits you, but I promise, these won’t.

Look around and above

Look at the stars. Always wonder. The world is so much bigger than us. Take time to appreciate it. If you ever feel down or need space to think, take time for yourself and enjoy your own company. Go for a walk in a park or the countryside. Surround yourself with nature. It gives you the time and space you need to reflect.

Open your heart

Don’t be afraid to put your feelings out there, whether for a friend or partner. You may get hurt, but it’s all a journey in helping you find the right people in your life.

Get off your phone and talk

There is nothing better than a good chat. Seriously, texting and emailing can be quick and easy, but so much less personal. Don’t lose that face-to-face contact. It allows you to truly see how someone is feeling.

Maintain a good work/life balance

Join a club, take up a sport, learn a different language, have fun with friends. Whatever you choose, do something that makes you feel happy.

Enjoy time at home with your family

You’ll soon leave on your adventures, and I hope you have plenty. (Unless you choose to stick with us, in which case, be prepared to pitch in!) I know we’re not as cool as your friends, but don’t forget, we know you well and will always be here for you, no matter what. Home is the place you should feel safest.

Never stop learning

At school, you’re made to learn. Once you leave, you can choose to keep your mind open or let it close. You could learn anything – a new language or painting or drawing or learning about the past. Keep your brain active.

Pick your battles

There will be times when you should stand up and say something. There will also be times when you shouldn’t. Have faith that you’ll know the difference.

Save money

It’s easy when you’re young not to think about your future and spend your money on the moment. There are so many things you will have to pay for…a car, a house, holidays. Don’t get caught out. (And don’t want be like your mum and spend loads on clothes just because they’re discounted!) It only makes you feel good temporarily.

If you experience unrequited love, you’ll be okay

If you’re like me, you’ll probably have a crush or two in school (and after). Unfortunately, your crushes may not feel the same way. It will feel like the end of the world (I feel your pain!), but don’t feel too sad about this. You will meet the boy, and then the man, who deserves you. It’s all part of growing up and discovering who and what you like, which is never a waste of time.

Have no regrets

Better to do something you reget than regret something you didn’t do. Take chances and seize moments. It doesn’t matter if things don’t work out. At least you tried. Be proud of that. Look forward, not back.

Have children when and if you feel ready

Enjoy your life before you have kids. Being a mum is a game changer. It can be pretty exhausting (way beyond the pregnancy and newborn days), and you’ll experience lots of challenges. But your kids will be the most precious people in your life. Treasure the wonderful times, and don’t feel guilty for feeling overwhelmed. It’s perfectly normal. Anyway, you can always ask grandma for help!

Always be honest

Tell the truth about what you are doing or how you feel. Lying and covering things up will catch up with you eventually.

Enjoy your life

We only get to live it once. Just remember that. Go out there and make your mark on it. I know you’ll make us proud.

My hope is that you can talk to me and your dad about anything. We’ve gone through so many happy and sad times, individually and together. We understand what it’s like to grow up. We’ll never judge and always be there for you, no matter what.

Most of all, though, I want you to be happy and feel loved. I can already see the amazing adults you’ll become and can’t wait to follow, love, and support you on your journey.

Love always,

Mum xxx

This piece originally appeared on the author’s blog.

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It's a conundrum many parents wrestle with: We don't want to lie to our kids, but when it comes to Santa, sometimes we're not exactly giving them the full truth either.

For Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, lying to daughters Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 3 just isn't an option, so everyone in the Bell-Shepard household knows the truth about Santa.

"This is going to be very controversial," Shepard told Us Weekly earlier this month. "I have a fundamental rule that I will never lie to them, which is challenging at times. Our 5-year-old started asking questions like, 'Well, this doesn't make sense, and that doesn't make sense.' I'm like, 'You know what? This is just a fun thing we pretend while it's Christmas.'"

According to Shepard, this has not diminished the magic of Christmas in their home. "They love watching movies about Santa, they love talking about Santa," Shepard told Us. "They don't think he exists, but they're super happy and everything's fine."

Research indicates that Shepard is right—kids can be totally happy and into Christmas even after figuring out the truth and that most kids do start to untangle the Santa myth on their own, as Lincoln did.

Studies suggest that for many kids, the myth fades around age seven, but for some kids, it's sooner, and that's okay.


Writing for The Conversation, Kristen Dunfield, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Concordia University, suggests that when kids come to parents with the hard questions about Santa, parents may feel a bit sad, but can take some comfort in "recognizing these challenging questions for what they are—cognitive development in action."

Kids aren't usually the ones who are upset when they figure it out, researchers note. Typically, kids are kind of proud of themselves for being such great detectives. It's the parents who feel sadness.

Some parents may not choose to be as blunt as Shepard, and that's okay, too. According to Dunfield, if you don't want to answer questions about Santa with 100% truth, you can answer a question with a question.

"If instead you want to let your child take the lead, you can simply direct the question back to them, allowing your child to come up with explanations for themselves: "I don't know, how do you think the sleigh flies?" Dunfield writes.

While Dax Shepard acknowledges that telling a 3-year-old that Santa is pretend might be controversial, he's hardly the first parent to present Santa this way. There are plenty of healthy, happy adults whose parents told them the truth.

LeAnne Shepard is one of them. Now a mother herself, LeAnne's parents clued her into the Santa myth early, for religious reasons that were common in her community.

"In the small Texas town where I grew up, I wasn't alone in my disbelief. Many parents, including mine, presented Santa Claus as a game that other families played," she previously wrote. "That approach allowed us to get a picture on Santa's lap, watch the Christmas classics, and enjoy all the holiday festivities so long as we remembered the actual reason for the season. It was much like when I visited Disney World and met Minnie Mouse; I was both over the moon excited and somewhat aware that she was not actually real."

No matter why you want to tell your children the truth about Santa, know that it's okay to let the kids know that he's pretend. Kristen Bell's kids prove that knowing the truth about Santa doesn't have to make Christmas any less exciting. Pretending can be magical, too.

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Last year my sons and I gave my wife the one thing every mom really wants every now and then: the absence of us.

We woke up that morning, kissed her on the cheek, and got out of dodge. Ten hours later we returned to find her eating carrot cake in a bathrobe and listening to podcasts.

Like so many dads when they do any solo-parenting, I posted a picture to Facebook. It got a big response, with more moms than I expected saying that's just what they wanted, too. I'm not an expert in presents or parenting, but consider this my recommendation to dads to make "taking the kids and leaving" this year's gift for moms—and a much bigger part of your regular life.

Don't get me wrong, we love my wife Kate. She's everyone's favorite family member. She's brilliant and funny and full of adventure. She's both the strongest person I know and the most caring. She's amazing at freeze dancing. She can name one million Pokemon. She knows instantly which injuries need Band-aids and which need kisses... and which, like me stabbing my hand trying to open a coconut with a kitchen knife, need the ER.

That's precisely why on her birthday we needed to get out of there. For a few hours Kate didn't have to do our emotional labor or be the default parent. No one asked her to make his brother return a toy or to check the tone in an email. She didn't have to perform appreciation for a breakfast in bed we would have made wrong. For one day, she didn't have to take care of anyone. It's embarrassing this is rare, but I admit in my family it is.

This brings up some big questions.

Why couldn't we have just stayed and taken care of her for a change? Did we really have to leave?

The answer is yes, at least for now. Our family's modes should include times when we're all around and Kate's not working, but they just don't.

When the kids need a Lego separated, it's her name they yell first down the stairs. If they're bored and looking to gin up some interaction, it's her lap they cannonball onto from the back of the couch. And that all goes for me, too, only without the Legos and cannonballs (mostly). That means whenever we're with Kate she has to be at some level of "on."

She shouldn't have to feel like the decision-maker, problem-solver, and nurturer in chief whenever she's in the same house as her husband and children, but she does. That means, for now, the quickest way to free her from that burden is just for us to get out that door.

That brings us to the biggest questions.

Does one day make a difference when there's such an everyday imbalance in the parenting load?

If Kate shoulders so much of the practical and emotional labor in our house that a day on her own can be a *literal* gift, what does that say about us?

It says a lot of things, but here's the main one: we need to change. If you'd asked us on our wedding day if our plan for raising a family was to divide the load unequally, we'd have both said "no way." But here we are.

So what do we do about it?

Well, the better question is what do I do about it. The problem is—I need to transform my share of the work around here. It can't be on Kate to solve that, too. That means I need to step up, to start doing much more not only of the caretaking and meal-planning and cooking, but the playdate-scheduling, doctor appointment-making, and child-life-organizing.

Leaving the house for one day doesn't turn me into a co-primary parent, but maybe it can be a jump-start. Sometimes the best way to begin changing habits is to create situations where those habits are impossible.

I might not have the strength to change our caretaking patterns when all four of us are together, but if it's just me and the boys with mom inaccessible, no one has another choice. The more days where I'm the primary parent, the more all four of us get accustomed to me in the role we're used to just having Mom in.

Kate might be superior to me in every aspect of parenting—which makes sense, given she's been practicing more than I have for eight years—but it's important to remember that a shared load is better for everyone. Of course it's better for her, but it's so much better for the boys, too. And it's better for me.

Our children are wonderful, hilarious and exquisite tiny humans. The focus on my 5-year-old's round face as he tries to make a card tower. The sound of my 7-year-old's boot cracking a puddle of ice as he walks to school. Pokemon. I miss all that when I'm not leaned forward as a parent.

And it's now or never. I've been a father for eight years. In 10 more, if we're lucky, our oldest will be in college. Childhoods go by fast. If don't become a better dad now, when will I?

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Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day, but in many households, it's also the most hectic. Many parents rely on pre-prepared items to cut down on breakfast prep time, and if Jimmy Dean Heat 'n Serve Original Sausage Links are a breakfast hack in your home, you should check your bag.

More than 14 tons of the frozen sausage links are being recalled after consumers found bits of metal in their meat.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall of 23.4-oz. pouches of Jimmy Dean HEAT 'n SERVE Original SAUSAGE LINKS Made with Pork & Turkey with a 'Use By' date of January 31, 2019.

"The product bears case code A6382168, with a time stamp range of 11:58 through 01:49," the FSIS notes.

In a statement posted on its website, Jimmy Dean says "a few consumers contacted the company to say they had found small, string-like fragments of metal in the product. Though the fragments have been found in a very limited number of packages, out of an abundance of caution, CTI is recalling 29,028 pounds of product. Jimmy Dean is closely monitoring this recall and working with CTI to assure proper coordination with the USDA. No injuries have been reported with this recall."

Consumers should check their packages for "the establishment code M19085 or P19085, a 'use by' date of January 31, 2019 and a UPC number of '0-77900-36519-5'," the company says.

According to the FSIS, there have been five consumer complaints of metal pieces in the sausage links, and recalled packages should be thrown away.

If you purchased the recalled sausages and have questions you can call the Jimmy Dean customer service line at (855) 382-3101.

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Flying with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old isn't easy under optimal conditions, and when the kids are tired and cranky, things become even harder.

Many parents are anxious when flying with kids for exactly this reason: If the kids get upset, we worry our fellow passengers will become upset with us, but mom of two Becca Kinsey has a story that proves there are more compassionate people out there than we might think.

In a Facebook post that has now gone viral, Kinsey explains how she was waiting for her flight back from Disney World with her two boys, Wyatt, 2, and James, 5, when things started to go wrong, and the first of three kind women committed an act of kindness that meant so much.

After having to run all over the airport because she'd lost her ID, Kinsey and her boys were in line for security and she was "on the verge of tears because Wyatt was screaming and James was exhausted. Out of the blue, one mom stops the line for security and says 'here, jump in front of me! I know how it is!'" Kinsey wrote in her Facebook post.

Within minutes, 2-year-old Wyatt was asleep on the airport floor. Kinsey was wondering how she would carry him and all the carry-ons when "another mom jumps out of her place in line and says 'hand me everything, I've got it.'"

When Kinsey thanked the second woman and the first who had given up her place in line they told her not to worry, that they were going to make sure she got on her flight.

"The second woman takes evvvverything and helps me get it through security and, on top of all that, she grabs all of it and walks us to the gate to make sure we get on the flight," Kinsey wrote.

Kinsey and her boys boarded, but the journey was hardly over. Wyatt wolk up and started "to scream" at take off, before finally falling back asleep. Kinsey was stressed out and needed a moment to breathe, but she couldn't put Wyatt down.

"After about 45 min, this angel comes to the back and says 'you look like you need a break' and holds Wyatt for the rest of the flight AND walks him all the way to baggage claim, hands him to [Kinsey's husband], hugs me and says "Merry Christmas!!" Kinsey wrote.

👏👏👏

It's a beautiful story about women helping women, and it gets even better because when Kinsey's Facebook post started to go viral she updated it in the hopes of helping other parents take their kids to Disney and experience another form of stress-relief.

"What if everyone that shared the story went to Kidd's Kids and made a $5 donation?! Kidd's Kids take children with life-threatening and life-altering conditions on a 5 day trip to Disney World so they can have a chance to forget at least some of the day to day stressors and get to experience a little magic!!"

As of this writing, Kinsey has raised more than $2,000 for Kidd's Kids and has probably inspired a few people to be kind the next time they see a parent struggling in public.

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