25 simple activities to help prepare your child for preschool

Help your child feel more confident in preschool by practicing these essential skills at home.

preparing child for preschool

When your child was a baby, do you remember feeling slightly anxious about whether or not they were meeting developmental milestones on time? As a therapist mom, it was constantly on my mind. Looking back, I can see how ridiculous I was, but at the same time I can't really blame first-time-mom-therapist me.

Happily, I can report that I've done a 180 in my view of child development (while I certainly still empathize with first-time parent angst). I no longer worry if my child is behind on a skill or struggling with any particular activity that I know is normal for their age range.

Because every child IS uniquely and wonderfully different. So please consider this list of preparation skills for preschool a guideline, and not something to get worried about. Learning is not something that should be forced, but rather encouraged through fun and child-led interest.

With that in mind, below is a list of 25 age-appropriate skills that will help your child feel more confident in preschool. The list includes activities to build skills in all areas, including fine motor skills, self-help, visual motor skills and social/emotional skills.

Having practiced some of these at home, your child will feel more confident in their new preschool environment.


Children can start practicing these skills anywhere from age 2-4. The list below is organized in a way that breaks each skill down from very easy to more advanced in skill level. And don't worry—these are basic activities that won't require any Pinterest-worthy-craftiness. You can practice them all in the comfort of your own home with little to no materials.

My hope is that you and your little one can practice these skills in a pressure free, natural environment that is fun for the both of you. If your child has a hard time with any of these activities, let them know it's okay and pick something else that might be closer to their interest level.

It is just preschool, after all!

Scissor skills + pre-scissor skills

1. Learning how to orient and hold scissors correctly

Before kids learn to cut, this is the first logical step. The prompt I use is "Is your thumb in the small hole?" and/or "Is your thumb on top?" Usually kids who are learning to cut will pronate (turn over) their wrists at first so they need this reminder. Practice 3 times in a row to make sure they have scissor orientation down.

2. Learning how to snip by cutting play dough, cutting straws or small strips of index card paper

This is the fun part! Kids seriously love learning to cut this way. It provides immediate feedback with no stress as far as which way to aim the scissors. Get ready for some tongues to come poking out as it might take some serious concentration. The thicker consistency of these materials gives more proprioceptive feedback and requires less graded control of the scissors.

3. Learning how to cut on a line

While this is the end goal, don't feel pressured to have your child complete this skill if they simply aren't ready. Go back to numbers one and two and have fun! In-hand manipulation of scissors, while using the other hand simultaneously to hold paper AND steering to stay on a line is a very advanced skill.

Coloring, pre-writing + other visual motor skills

4. Identifying basic shapes, colors and letters

Read, read and read some more! You can even practice letter sounds while you're at it.

5. Coloring

Start with having them "fill in" very small objects first (i.e. stars in the sky) then gradually move to larger objects (only use pictures with one solid object and no background, as the background is too distracting for children in this age group).

6. Imitate straight lines horizontally then vertically

I have found that drawing a line and saying "zoom!" (and then inviting your child to imitate you) is the most effective way for kids to learn this skill.

7. Imitate a circle, a cross, a square

After they have mastered the lines, move on to a circle. It's okay to start with just circular motions if that is where they are at, then move onto a circle with a definite end. Next you can try a cross: A cross is very difficult for some, as it requires the brain to cross midline. If they can do all of those things, go ahead and try a square!

8. Connect dots

Have them draw a line from one dot to the next. If that's too easy, try multiple dots in a row or draw a picture with dots. Connecting dots helps to improve visual tracking for pre-reading skills and improves motor planning skills.

9. Trace straight lines then curvy lines

You don't need any fancy tracing books to practice this skill. Just sit alongside them and have them trace on top of your lines. This will improve their visual attention and visual tracking skills.

10. Practice imitating easier vertical letters such as L, E, F, H, T and I

Always work on capital letters first before attempting lower case. Most letters of the alphabet are too difficult for pre-school aged children. Diagonals and curves are the hardest, so start with letters that use straight lines such as those listed above.

11. Practice writing their name

This can mean recognizing and saying the letters in their name, imitating the first letter of their name or even writing the whole name—remember to use capitals! Respect where they are at and don't push them when they're not ready. Try using multi-sensory approaches vs using standard pen and paper, for example, writing their name in a sandbox using their fingers, or using playdough to form the letters of their name.

Hand + grasp development

12. Practice holding crayon/marker correctly

Keep in mind, a tripod grasp isn't expected to emerge until age 3.5-4. It is natural and OKAY for them to use alternative grasps at first. In fact, there is a very natural progression of grasp. You can try my tried and true "point, pick and flip" trick to teach proper grasp. Have them point the writing utensil at themselves, use thumb and index to "pick" it up near the tip, then flip the back end of the crayon into their web-space and there you have it: a tripod grasp!

13. Writing/coloring/drawing on a horizontal surface (window, chalkboard or easel)

The angle and position that this places the arm in is going to help develop stability of the shoulder, wrist and forearm. We call this "proximal stability." A stable base is necessary in order for small, fine motor movements of the hand to develop.

14. Use small or broken crayons/chalk to facilitate proper grasp

This is one of my favorite ways to help strengthen the fingers that make up a tripod grasp (the index, middle and thumb). Since there is very little to hang on to, using broken crayons forces these three fingers to do all the work. (Credit due to Handwriting Without Tears for this concept.)

15. Clothespin activities

Clothespins strengthen the three fingers that make up the tripod grasp, which also strengthens the muscles of the thumb space and helps develop proper hand arch. Use clothespins to attach to literally anything—a string, a piece of paper, a shirt.

16. Tong activities

You can use the tongs from your kitchen and have your child practice squeezing them together to pick up literally anything! I promise your kiddos are going to love this one. Some easy household items you can use are: cotton balls, toy cars, ice cubes, markers or crayons. Just put them into a pile and grab some bowls or a muffin tray for them to use as a target drop. This is going to strengthen so many muscles of the hand and arm and promote an age appropriate grasp.

17. Playdough

Playdough is great work all around for strengthening the hands. I like it most for developing the arches of the hand, especially when rolling into snakes or small balls against the palm. You can do so much with playdough—roll it into a snake and then pinch along the length of it, place small toothpicks into it for a birthday cake, spell out their name, etc.

Social/emotional skills

18. Take turns

How else will your child learn how to take turns if you aren't practicing this skill with them at home? Ask them for a turn using their prized toy, or play a simple board game that involves reciprocal turn taking (Go-Fish, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Don't Break the Ice or Candyland are classic examples).

19. Clean up and put away

When they are finished playing with all those toy cars or dolls, have them clean them up before choosing a new toy.

20. Sit and finish an activity in its entirety

Generally speaking, pre-school aged children should be able to sit down for at least 5 minutes to complete a preferred task, whether that's finishing a puzzle, coloring a picture or building a structure with blocks or Legos.

21. Learn how to ask for help

This is so important. If they aren't learning to ask for help at home, then they won't be able to ask their teacher for help when they need it.

22. Make eye contact

It is important to teach children how to make eye contact when they are speaking to someone or saying hello. It tells the person who is being spoken to, and it also shows respect and tells the other person you are paying attention to them.

Self-help skills

23. Practice taking off and putting on shoes + pulling down and pulling up pants

They will need to put shoes on and off occasionally at school. They will need to know how to pull pants up and down by their knee level so they can use the potty.

24. Practice using a spoon and fork

25. Practice washing their hands

Break it down into simple steps:

Step 1: get soap
Step 2: rub hands together
Step 3: rinse hands
Step 4: turn off faucet
Step 5: dry hands

Originally published by Ashley Thurn on helpinghandot.com.

Here are some products we love to get started:

Dough Parlour play dough

Dough Parlour play dough

Created by a mama and preschool teacher, Dough Parlour's play dough is the best we've ever found. The premium-quality, fruity-scented modeling dough is made from 100% non-toxic ingredients, is 100% biodegradable and is handcrafted in Canada. (And we want to play with it as much as our kids!)

$22

Wise Elk fishing game

Wise Elk fishing game

Simple but engaging, this magnetic fishing game is a great way to develop focus and patience and learn how to take turns.

$20

Boundless Blooms guided exercises + mantras for kids 

 Boundless Blooms guided exercises and mantras for kids

This colorful deck of cards is actually an effective tool for helping young kids develop emotional intelligence and resiliency. A solid foundation in these skills makes the transition to preschool just a bit smoother.

$30

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

This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.

Helping your 2-month-old thrive: Tips and activities

Routines create a foundation for learning how to love and developing good self-esteem as baby grows.

*This article is sponsored by ParentPal. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Your life may still feel like a blur of feedings, diaper changes and short spurts of sleep. That new baby fog means you usually have no clue what day it is or why the car keys are in the fridge. But this month is the perfect time to actually start a routine. Having a basic schedule helps the day flow, which is good for you and baby.

According to Dr. Tovah Klein, head of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive, routines help even 2-month-olds anticipate what's going to happen next. She explains:

Bath? Check. Song? Check? Feeding? Check. Zzzz.

This kind of predictability helps her feel safe, calm and trusting of parents and caregivers. This creates a foundation for learning how to love the important people in her life and developing good self-esteem as she grows.

To help support your baby's development and track routines like sleep and feeding, you can try an app like ParentPal™. ParentPal is the only all-in-one parenting app with everything you need to support, track, and celebrate your child's healthy development. Developed by Teaching Strategies, the leaders in early childhood development, and the creators of Baby Einstein, ParentPal provides trusted, research-based guidance and parenting tools at your fingertips. You can use the Daily Plan of age-appropriate activities, Milestones, Sleep, Health & Wellness Trackers, and a vast library of age-based resources for your middle-of-the-night parenting questions.*

Week-by-week activities

And speaking of learning, this month your kiddo is becoming more interested in pictures and objects. You'll see the beginning of hand-eye coordination, too. (You're still her primary focus, so keep up the talking, singing and silly faces.) From story time to play time, these week-by-week tips from child development psychologist Dr. Holly Ruhl will help you navigate the month:

Week 1

Instilling an early love of reading can strengthen language skills and parent-child relationships. Squeeze in that oh-so-important 20 minutes of reading by visiting your local library or bookstore for story time. This activity will deepen your tot's love of books and promote mama-baby bonding.

Week 2

Infants have an innate love of gazing at faces. Spend a few minutes each day attending to baby's favorite faces: the ones staring back in the mirror! Make silly faces and label baby's facial features. Gazing in the mirror may promote baby's sense of self-recognition. This understanding will appear slightly later and is the basis for baby's later self-confidence.

Week 3

Your little bundle is developing rudimentary hand-eye coordination. Promote coordination by fostering interaction with baby's fascinating surroundings. Help your tot gently stroke household pets. Dangle a textured, crinkly toy for those little hands to swat. Lay baby on an activity gym and soak in the baby bliss as your little one intently reaches for toys overhead.

Week 4

Are family and friends antsy to cuddle with the new addition? Take baby to visit loved ones for exposure to new faces, voices and styles of play. Plus, social support from friends and relatives around 3 months can help you be a more responsive mama and give baby supplemental support, leading to more secure attachment by 12 months.

Baby

One of the greatest joys of parenting is getting to introduce your baby to the great, big world. Even from a young age, travel can open our eyes to new environments, teach resilience and adaptability and create a meaningful bond between family members.

The problem? The logistics of traveling with a baby can be, well, challenging. For too long, one of the biggest obstacles standing between parents and their traveling plans has been the hassle of managing an infant car seat on our journey.

The new Nuna PIPA lite rx is changing all that. The Nuna PIPA lite rx is an infant car seat made for everyday life and more enjoyable adventures. With a combination of features that make travel easier, you can skip the question of "how" to go with your baby and move onto asking "where" to go.

From trips around the corner to trips across the country, the new Nuna PIPA lite rx car seat solves so many pain points of traveling with a baby. Here's why you'll love it...

It is amazingly light-weight

We're all for a good workout—just not every time we need to carry the car seat. Weighing in at just 6.9 lbs., the PIPA lite rx truly earns the title of lightweight champion. Combined with a luxe leatherette handle for comfortably carrying in your hand or the crook of your arm, this dreamy travel car seat is great at getting from Point A to Point B—whether you're in the car or not.

It is incredibly safe and secure from day one

With an additional GOTS™ certified infant insert and harness covers, 7-position height-adjustable no-rethread headrest, Aeroflex™ foam and side-impact protection, you can travel with the confidence that your baby is well-protected from your baby's first ride and beyond. And because any parent knows the trickiest part of travel is getting baby in and out of the car seat, the PIPA lite rx simplifies the task: The 5-point no-rethread harness can be held to the side with magnetic buckle holders while you're getting your baby in or out of the seat. (Meaning no more searching for straps under a wiggly baby!)

Your baby will be cozy for longer excursions

When it comes to keeping your little travel companion content, comfort is the name of the game. With foam cushions and a memory foam headrest, your little explorer will have the best seat in the car when buckled in. For a little extra privacy, pull down the breathable Dream Drape and quietly attach it to the side of the car seat with magnets. Or, enjoy some time in the sun without concerns about harsh rays with the full-coverage UPF 50+ canopy.

Base or belt... the decision is yours

The Nuna PIPA lite rx offers two ways to secure the seat to the car: with the (included) PIPA RELX base or by buckling in through the belt path on the infant car seat with the vehicle's seat belt, meaning one less thing to take along when you travel by taxi or airplane. Better yet, the car seat securely installs in just seconds so you can get on with the adventure.

Stroll on with the full travel system

Compatible with Nuna's extensive line of strollers, the Nuna PIPA lite rx lets you create a travel system that works for your lifestyle. From single strollers to rides that can grow with your family, you can click the Nuna PIPA lite rx into place and go—wherever your travels might take you.

The Nuna PIPA lite rx is available now in two color options. Take a closer look at this fully featured infant seat on nunababy.com.

This article is sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.
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10 Montessori phrases for kids who are struggling with back to school

The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here's how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.

No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don't want to go to school. Whether they're saying "I don't like school" when you're home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.

More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It's important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.

Here are some phrases that will encourage your child to go to school.


1. "You're safe here."

If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they'll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you're clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.

2. "I love you and I know you can do this."

It's best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, "It's just school, you'll be fine" belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you're confident they're up to the task. This validates the anxiety they're feeling while ending on a positive note.

After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.

3. "First you'll have circle time, then work time, and then you'll play on the playground."

Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.

It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.

4. "I'll pick you up after playground time."

Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.

If your child can tell time, you can tell them you'll see them at 3:30pm. If they're younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you'll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it's after math class.

Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they'll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.

5. "What book do you think your teacher will read when you get to school this morning?"

Find out what happens first in your child's school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.

If they're in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.

Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.

6. "Do you think Johnny will be there today?"

Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.

If you're not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.

If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.

7. "That's a hard feeling. Tell me about it."

While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.

Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they're really feeling.

They may reveal that they just miss you while they're gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.

Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.

8. "What can we do to help you feel better?"

Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.

Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.

If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they're too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?

Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you're rescuing them, to build their confidence.

9. "What was the best part of your school day?"

Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.

It's easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don't always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.

10. "I can't wait to go to the park together when we get home."

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.

Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it's coming.

It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don't want to go to school. If you're concerned, talk to your child's teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they're in the classroom.

To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.

Back to School

15 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.


Stomp Racers

As longtime fans of Stomp Rockets, we're pretty excited about their latest launch–Stomp Racers. Honestly, the thrill of sending things flying through the air never gets old. Parents and kids alike can spend hours launching these kid-powered cars which take off via a stompable pad and hose.

$19.99

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

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

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

B. toys Wagon & Beach Playset - Wavy-Wagon Red

For the littlest ones, it's easy to keep it simple. Take their sand box toys and use them in the bath! This 12-piece set includes a variety of scoops, molds and sifters that can all be stored in sweet little wagon.

$17.95

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

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

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

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The busy mom's guide to voting

It's National Voter Registration Week, so exercise your civic duty, mama!

David_Tanke / Twenty20

To say that moms have a lot on their plate is an understatement—from dealing with quarantines to seeking childcare within an overworked and under supported workforce. Even as a political strategist myself, my mom duties have dominated recently and pushed upcoming local elections to the back of my mind. But, we know that many of the struggles moms are going through can be alleviated through good policy created by our elected officials at the federal, state, and local levels.

In 2020, it was reported that suburban women would decide the election, and with critical elections happening in your own neighborhood, it's more important than ever that we make our voices heard.


That's why I've put together a guide for how to vote for even the busiest of moms.

  1. Check your voter registration. It's National Voter Registration Week, which is a great time to check your voter registration! In line at drop off? Just filled out your kids' health screener form on your phone? Take a minute at Vote.org to make sure you're registered. If you're not registered, make sure you submit your registration immediately to avoid missing out on your chance to make your voice heard this November! Once you've checked your registration status, text your mom group, and make sure they're registered to vote as well. Your voice alone is powerful, but combined with your close friends, real change can happen.
  2. Find out who's on the ballot. During presidential elections, it's pretty easy to keep track of the two main candidates. But local elections can be tricky, with different seats up for grabs and many people vying for the spots. Head to Vote411.org, where you can get a sample ballot to see exactly what you will encounter in the polling place. Vote411 even has debate videos and other localized resources on each candidate Google the candidates. Check for the basics: Do they share similar values as you? Do you agree with their key platform ideas? Pro tip: look for endorsements from organizations you care about or visit their campaign websites and social media platforms to see if they are talking about the issues you are invested in.
  3. Vote (early)! With the pandemic still happening and calendars filled with kids' activities, actually going to vote can seem like a logistical nightmare. Thankfully, most states have early voting, which can help you avoid the crowds on Election Day and choose a time that fits into your schedule. Find your local polling place and organize a field trip with the kids. (It's legal!) It's never too early to show your children the importance of being civically engaged! Plus, they will probably get a cool "I Voted" sticker. If you can't vote early, make a plan for Election Day. As any mom knows, putting in on the calendar and having a plan of action increases the likelihood that it gets done. Remember that in some states, voting by mail or absentee voting is also an option. So be sure to check your state's election rules to explore all of the voting options. You can visit Vote.org to learn more about the absentee rules where you are registered to vote.
  4. Talk to the candidates. Candidates are in full campaign mode right now, which means talking to people like you are in their top priorities. If the local office is open for visitors, go meet your candidate in person—and take the kids. If they're closed due to COVID concerns, you can still pick up the phone and call. Let them know what issues matter most to you. Are you passionate about paid leave? Do you want to see changes in your local school system? Share your personal stories, which are incredibly powerful when engaging 1:1 with local representatives.

It's an understatement to say that moms have had a tough year, and now is the opportunity to make our voices heard. So make a plan and encourage others to do the same. See you at the polls!

State of Motherhood

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.

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