14 phrases to help prepare your preschooler for school this year

Difficult drop-offs might happen, but this can help.

prepare for preschool in a pandemic
5byseven/Twenty20

This year, the first day of school will look different. For parents and teachers of the youngest learners—those entering preschool programs—this year brings particular changes and challenges.

Even in the best of times, the early days of the school year are filled with mixed emotions for adults and children alike. Many preschools build in a gradual separation or phase-in period to build a bridge between home and school, allowing children and their families to separate confidently.

But this fall, as a necessary safety precaution, schools will be limiting the number of adults in the building. For most preschoolers, the first day of school will involve an at-the-door drop-off with a masked teacher. This is a far cry from the gentle introduction of previous years. Add to that the fact that most of these children will be coming off of months of being isolated with their families, and you have a recipe for some difficult goodbyes.

Fortunately, there is much you can do to support your preschooler as they enter the classroom.

Here's how to prepare your preschooler (and yourself!) for a smoother transition into an unprecedented school year.


1. Get familiar with your preschool's new policies.

Your child's preschool is likely to be in communication with parents about expectations and routines for this year, and it's a good idea to carefully read these expectations to avoid surprises. "For example, telling a child that their stuffed bear can come, and discovering at the gate that it can't, might trigger additional stress for the child," says Julia Luckenbill, MA, Child Development Demonstration Lecturer, Center for Child and Family Studies at UC Davis.

Your child is looking to you for cues about how they should feel. Talk about school in the days leading up to it. Describe what your child can expect to see and do at school, then relate it to familiar experiences from home.

Phrases to try:

"All the grownups will wear masks just like I do when I go to the store."

"Your classroom will have lots of toys to play with. I wonder if they will have blocks like ours."

2. Talk about what's the same, as well as what's different.

If your child has previously been in school, explain what will be the same and what will be new this year. "While emphasizing and practicing the new things will be important, noticing which things are the same is also best practice," says Luckenbill. Keep it simple and light.

Phrases to try:

"Look, you'll have circle time, just like last year!"

"I see that Tomiko will be your teacher again, I wonder what you will say to her when you finally get back to the classroom?"

3. Give them choices.

"Anxiety around the pandemic is normal in people of all ages, and one of the principal catalysts for this anxiety is a general lack of control," notes Dr. Donna Housman, Ed.D, a psychologist in the field of child development and early childhood education and founder of Beginnings Child Development Center. "Try to give your child a sense of control by offering them choices." Let them choose their own masks and backpacks and give them choices for what to wear to school or what to pack for lunch.

Phrases to try:

"Would you like to wear your tiger mask today or your frog mask?"

"I know you will have snack time at preschool: Let's think of some really fun things we can put in your bag."

4. Reinforce routines.

"Routines reassure children that they are safe and that there is an order or purpose to what they are doing," says Richard Peterson, chief academic officer at Kiddie Academy, an early learning center network with locations nationwide. Young children love and need routines, and parents can help prepare them for preschool by establishing simple at-home routines for things like mask-wearing and hand-washing. "For example, establish the routine that washing hands occurs after using the bathroom, after a sneeze or cough and after coming inside," suggests Peterson, "and establish a standard place in the house or car for masks."

Preschool teachers are experts at coming up with routines that are simple and easy for children to follow, and this year will be no different. Handwashing, maintaining physical distance, putting on masks, placing toys in a bin to be cleaned after use... "We will come up with songs and stories about all those routines," promises Daniela Vancourova, director and instructor at Brooklyn Free Space, a co-operative preschool in Brooklyn, New York. "We will communicate with parents about the routines and language when we have it down." You can pick up these songs and routines at home to help reinforce them.

Phrases to try:

"Let's practice counting to 20 while we wash our hands."

"I keep my mask here by the door so it's ready for me when we're heading out. Where should we put your mask so it's always ready for you?"

5. Project confidence at drop-off time.

Develop a drop-off routine that feels special and can be repeated day after day. Choose something to help your child connect with their teacher, come up with a simple goodbye ritual, and remind them of who will pick them up or when you'll see them next. "Reading books about separation such as The Kissing Hand may also provide guidance for love rituals around separation that do not involve coming into the classroom or bringing an object," suggests Luckenbill.

Phrases to try:

"Let's tell your teacher what we saw on our walk this morning while he checks your temperature!"

"I'm going to give you two hugs and a kiss. I'll see you after the goodbye song."

6. Build relationships.

In order for children to comfortably separate from their parents, they must transfer their attachment temporarily to their new caregiver. You can support that process by helping them build a relationship with their teachers. Greet teachers warmly and model trust in them for your child. Share a photo of the teachers with your child so they can get to know their names and faces, even with masks on.

Phrases to try:

"Breakfast time! Do you wonder what your teacher is eating for breakfast today? Let's ask when we see them."

"I'm sorry to hear that your friend was sad today at school. Who helped them feel better?"

7. Lead by example.

While wearing masks, washing hands frequently and maintaining physical distance still don't quite feel normal, it's likely your preschooler has had some experience with all of these things already, whether you've been bringing them along to the grocery store or for a walk around the park. But how can we normalize the wearing of masks and other safety measures for a full day at preschool?

"Children learn best through modeling and repetition," Housman stresses. "If you as the caregiver show your child that wearing a mask for a long period of time throughout the day is okay, your child will likely feel the same. This applies to other safety measures as well. If your child's school will be taking temperatures, not allowing parents to drop off their child indoors or enforcing more frequent hand and toy washing, prepare your child by being honest about the reason behind these changes and modeling this behavior for them at home."

Phrases to try:

"My mask keeps me safe, your mask keeps you safe, and our masks together keep everyone around us safe as well. That's why it is important to wear it every time we go to school."

"We all need to wash our hands more, wear masks and keep space between our bodies because there is a tiny thing called a virus that is like a germ that makes people sick. The virus could go from one person to another if we don't do these special things."

8. Follow their lead, too.

School has been the subject of conversation among families for months now. Fortunately, toddlers and preschoolers are very good at changing the subject when they've had enough. That is not only okay, but perfect! If your child has questions, answer them. If, on the other hand, they start talking about Daniel Tiger or that time their cousin fell on the playground… go with it.



Your child may still cry on the first day of preschool. You may still cry, though hopefully not until you've rounded the corner. The goal is not to limit your child's emotional landscape, but to offer support that can embrace the fullness of your child's experience while gently guiding them towards comfort.

Get them ready for the first day of preschool + beyond

Mask buddy

This cloth face mask just for kids is designed for families on the go: Using the elastic band on the back, they can be worn on a wrist or as a hair-tie. Reusable and washable, these Mask Buddies also have elastic ear loops to ensure a comfortable, secure fit.

$13

Insulated lunch bag

A lightweight, durable insulated lunch bag is a must-have for school days. These well-designed bags are also sustainably made—each one is the "second life" of 5 water and soda bottles.

$29

How one company is making a huge difference for LGBTQ youth

Take notes, all you other brands, this is how it's done

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

This article is sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

We spoke to Chris Bright (he/she/they), Director of Public Training at The Trevor Project, who works closely with H&M. Chris shared with us the Trevor Project's important mission, and what all brands should do to best support LGBTQ youth today.

1. For those that do not know, what is The Trevor Project's mission? What is it all about and its impact on society?

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. Our mission is to end suicide among the estimated 1.8 million LGBTQ youth under the age of 25 in the U.S. who seriously consider suicide each year.

Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project launched TrevorLifeline, the first 24/7 national lifeline supporting LGBTQ youth in crisis alongside HBO's broadcast of the Academy Award-winning short film Trevor. The first calls were answered that night. Since then, we have grown from reaching several thousand LGBTQ youth per year to becoming the preeminent resource for LGBTQ young people in crisis, directly serving over 200K LGBTQ young people in the last fiscal year alone. We work tirelessly to save young lives by providing support through our free and confidential crisis programs on platforms where young people spend their time — online and on the phone. In addition to TrevorLifeline, we offer 24/7 digital crisis services including TrevorText and TrevorChat, as well as TrevorSpace, the world's largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth.


H&M + The Trevor Project

2. Can you describe the nature of the relationship/partnership the Trevor Project has with H&M?

Our collaboration with H&M has been remarkably successful, with H&M driving awareness of The Trevor Project and our services among its audience while also demonstrating its strong support of LGBTQ young people. H&M first partnered with us in December 2020 during our "Every Single One" holiday campaign, where they donated $250K in matching funds for Giving Tuesday. This helped The Trevor Project have our best-ever Giving Tuesday moment.

Our work together has had extensive impact, allowing H&M to engage employees, customers, and community members in conversations about LGBTQ Allyship through Trevor's resources and mission. We're thankful for H&M's support, which helps us continue to operate and improve our 24/7 life-saving crisis services so we can serve more LGBTQ young people.

3. Why was H&M the right company to partner with?

H&M is an established yet relevant brand that has the attention of young people, and we're always so thankful to partner with youth-facing brands that can not only spread messages of love and support, but also can increase the awareness of our crisis services and resources. We know that H&M genuinely cares about creating a better future for LGBTQ young people.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge or struggle for LGBTQ kids today?

LGBTQ youth are incredibly diverse, with so many intersecting identities and unique experiences — making it difficult for me to pinpoint what might be the single biggest challenge or struggle for all LGBTQ youth today.

What I can say, however, is our research reveals numerous challenges or struggles that may be more prevalent across the board for LGBTQ youth. According to our 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which captures the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24 across the U.S., nearly 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. Over 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health and more than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful.

What's clear is that while there is no single biggest challenge or struggle for our LGBTQ youth today, it's critical that we find ways to uplift and support each and every LGBTQ young person that we can.

5. Since it's back to school time, are there stressors or situations that are uniquely heightened for LGBTQ youth, other than the standard new school year jitters, that people don't necessarily know about?

Our research has found that LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one LGBTQ-affirming space had 35% reduced odds of attempting suicide in the past year, with LGBTQ-affirming school environments having the strongest association with reduced suicide attempts. Since the onset of COVID-19, the volume of youth reaching out to us has significantly increased, at times nearly double our pre-COVID volume. Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety have been heightened as a result of the pandemic, further emphasizing the need for LGBTQ youth to have access to spaces that affirm their identities, such as gender-neutral bathrooms, trans-inclusive sports, and positive extracurricular activities such as Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs).

LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one accepting adult — whether it be teachers, coaches, or counselors — were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. The Trevor Project created the Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention, which includes requirements for teacher training, mental health instruction for students, and policies and procedures for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that as in-person learning returns, schools provide LGBTQ students with safe learning environments where they can feel empowered, supported, and accepted by their peers and educators.

H&M + the Trevor Project

6. In what way is the support that The Trevor Project provides crucial to LGBTQ youth, especially as it pertains to suicide prevention?

The support that The Trevor Project provides is so crucial because suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people — and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. LGBTQ youth reach out to Trevor because we are LGBTQ-affirming and a trusted provider of crisis services. All of our volunteers are highly-trained to answer calls, chats, and text from LGBTQ youth 24/7 when they are feeling suicidal or need a safe, non-judgmental place to talk.

Almost three-quarters of youth stated that they either would not or were unsure if they would have another service if The Trevor Project did not exist. We aim to be there for every young LGBTQ person in crisis with a clear message: you are loved, your life has value, and you are never alone.

7. What do you think the responsibility is for brands to be involved in pro-social, activism-related work?

Everyone can play a role in creating change and building progress in our society. Brands — especially those with large platforms and influence — have a responsibility to fulfill that role as well. We recognize H&M and our other brand partners for helping spur progress on important issues, and we encourage others to follow suit. Beyond the essential financial support that brands can provide to nonprofits like The Trevor Project, there's also a direct benefit for the community when brands are loud about their support of Pride; we've found that more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community positively impact how they feel about being LGBTQ. Finally, it's important to remember that Pride doesn't begin and end in June — the opportunity to support Pride is 365 days a year. We are thrilled to have H&M as a year-round partner for The Trevor Project, demonstrating their authentic support for our work.

8. What is one of the biggest impacts or positive results you have seen come from the partnership between The Trevor Project and H&M?

We wouldn't be able to do the work we do and make the progress we've made without our brand partners like H&M. The Trevor Project has experienced significant growth in the last few years with the implementation of our five key program areas: crisis services, peer support, research, education and public awareness, and advocacy. Since 2019, we've been working to scale our volunteer training to increase the number of crisis services counselors on a yearly basis. In addition to original, intersectional monthly research briefs, our research team launched the world's largest survey of LGBTQ youth mental health in 2019, and has released a total of three national, annual reports. We've ramped up Trevor's advocacy work on the local, state, and federal levels to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, including bills to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy that have been in introduced in 40 states. H&M's partnership helps us advance this work by raising significant funds and awareness for our mission. During June 2021, when H&M served as one of our key Pride Partners, our crisis counselors served over 19,500 crisis contacts with free, confidential support via phone, chat, and text.

9. How important is it for LGBTQ+ youth to see allies in popular culture, be it a celebrity or high profile person, mainstream brand, etc.?

LGBTQ representation in the mainstream media is extremely important as it makes LGBTQ youth feel seen, validated, and confident that they are not alone. Over 80% of youth said that celebrities who are LGBTQ positively influence how they feel about being LGBTQ, and more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community have a positive impact on their LGBTQ identity. As we continue to see increased visibility for marginalized communities in popular culture, diverse images will become normalized, which in turn creates a safer, more accepting world for all of us.

10. For people who want to get involved with a cause like The Trevor Project, what is the best way to make a difference?

There are a number of ways to get involved with The Trevor Project – from making a donation (TheTrevorProject.org/Donate) to applying to be a volunteer (TheTrevorProject.org/Volunteer) to spreading the word about our resources.

Affirming spaces and support systems work to save young LGBTQ lives. People can be active in their communities to ensure that more safe, affirming spaces are available and thriving. Even making an effort to respect someone's pronouns and encouraging those around you to do the same can make a huge difference. Our research has also found that LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt. If you get the opportunity, be that one person for a young person in your life.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project's trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

Our Partners

This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

Woodland Snug comforter

Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

$249

Braided Pom Pom Throw

Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

$145

Lumbar pillow

sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

$65

Crystal infused sleep mask

sunday citizen sleep mask

Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

$40

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

You've got this.

Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

The Motherly Birth Class

pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

$79

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

$139

Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$19.95

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$79.99

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$24.75

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Target's car seat trade-in is back and it ends soon! 🎉

Here are all the details you need to know about the 2021 deal.

Joe Raedle/Getty

Cat seats are, of course, a necessity—but they're a pretty big-ticket item for those on a budget, especially if you have multiple kiddos or cars. As always, Target is here for us.

Target's popular car seat trade-in program is BACK! It runs through September 25, 2021.

So break out the busted car seats sitting in your garage and get ready to trade it in! It doesn't matter how many goldfish crumbs or questionable stains are on it, Target will welcome it with open arms—and you'll get a discount on a new one to boot.

Just bring your old car seat to the designated boxes inside your local Target and you'll score a coupon for 20% off a new car seat, booster seat, car seat base, travel system or stroller. Oh, and the coupon can also be applied to select baby gear, such as high chairs, swings, rockers and bouncers. 👏

Find a participating store near you here.

Here's how to scan the coupon code into your phone: Open your Target App to scan the code on the box (you can always talk to a Team Member in Guest Services if you need help). Open your Wallet in the Target App to find your coupon and other contactless savings. Click the red "+" to save the offer and place your order online, or scan your barcode at the register.

Since 2016, Target has held several of these car seat trade-in events in an effort to help parents recycle the seats, which are not eligible for curbside recycling and take up a lot of space when sent to landfills. The retailer hands over all the old car seats to Waste Management and the materials are recycled to make grocery carts, plastic buckets and construction materials like steel beams. More than 14.4 million pounds of car seats have been recycled through the program.

This is such a great deal because you get to upgrade your current car seat (because, as we all know, kids go through multiple styles and sizes through their childhood) AND you get a discount for giving your old, crusty car seat a second life.

Now excuse me while I head to Target to make the most of my trade-in discount!

News + Trending

Mom and gorilla bond over their babies at the zoo: ‘It was so beautiful’

The new mothers shared a special moment at a Boston zoo.

Franklin Park Zoo/YouTube

Motherhood knows no bounds.

When Kiki the gorilla spotted a new mom and baby visiting her habitat at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, she immediately took a liking to the pair. Emmelina Austin held her five-week-old son Canyon to the glass so Kiki could get a better look.

The gorilla spent nearly five minutes happily pointing and staring at baby Canyon.


Emmelina's husband captured the sweet moment on his phone, in a video that's now gone viral.

Mother shares unique maternal bond with gorilla (FULL VIDEO) www.youtube.com

Why was Kiki so interested in her tiny visitor? Possibly because Kiki's a new mom herself. Her fifth baby, Pablo, was born in October.

Near the end of the video, Kiki scooped up Pablo and held him close. The new moms held their baby boys to the glass and shared a special moment together: just a couple of mothers, showing off their little ones.

"When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could've imagined that we would have had that experience," Austin told ABC News. "It was so beautiful, and we walked out just over the moon."

We can't get enough of the sweet exchange. There's something special about sharing your little one with the world. Mothers of all ages, races–and it turns out, species–understand.

Our favorite viral mama + kid videos