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I’m about to delve into a touchy subject for many parents of school-aged children, so I’m going to preface this by waving a white flag. First and foremost, I am a mom to three kids in school. One of them has special needs and has had an IEP in place since he was three years old. In other words, I understand why many parents feel compelled to micromanage what is happening in their child’s classroom.


I know all too well the anxiety a lot of parents feel as the new school year approaches. They are hungry to know everything and anything about their child’s teacher. What is their age? How long they have taught? How strict or lenient are they? Do they have children of their own? What do they look like? And so on.

This is an assumption, but I have a feeling it will resonate with many parents: You want to like your child’s teacher. Probably more importantly, you want that teacher to like your child. Basically, you want them to make all the same decisions that you would, because you know your child best, and you know what’s best for them.

When your child is with you, everything remains under your control. You are captain of the ship. But once your baby is on the bus, you relinquish all the decision-making that affects your child while they are spending their day inside those brick walls. It’s unnerving.

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Things will go wrong. Your child will be teased. Sometimes, they will be bored or frustrated. They will, from time to time, get embarrassed. Or be hungry before lunchtime. Or trip and fall. Or be rejected by their peers. Or feel the sting of not being the best at a particular task.

You will not be there to work damage control. It will be up to…your child’s teacher. The worst part of all is that you won’t be there to witness it and make sure it is up to par with your expectations.

When your child comes home with a pout on his or her face, you will do a little digging for facts. Who is at fault for your child’s unhappiness? Why wasn’t the problem dealt with properly so that all is well in the world in your child’s eyes?

I’m going to cut to the chase right here. It doesn’t matter what happened. It’s the teacher’s fault. Here’s why I can make that statement with utter conviction (and you may have already guessed this by now): I was an elementary school teacher for eight years.

Somehow, along the way, our general culture has shifted from an accepted truth that teacher knows best to the opposite end of the spectrum, which means every move a teacher makes is under intense scrutiny from all directions. This has some benefits, as teachers should be held to high standards for the sake of the children they teach. But in many cases, this mindset can veer off onto a slippery slope where the only human being in the classroom held accountable for anyone’s actions is the teacher.

This might seem like an overreaching argument, but let me back that up with a few examples of everyday correspondence modern-day teachers receive from parents:

My child is annoyed with the student who sits next to her in class. Please change the seating arrangement in your classroom.

My child is discouraged because he has not been recognized as student of the week (or whatever positive behavior system that school has in place). When will it be his turn?

My child came home hungry from school today because she did not eat the sack lunch I packed for her. Can she be allowed extra time to eat?

My child is not being properly challenged by the amount of homework given. Can you provide additional homework for my gifted child?

In response to a negative behavior notice sent home: My child only behaved this way because so-and-so in class did this or that. She was only reacting and is not in any way responsible and therefore does not deserve any kind of consequence whatsoever.

This is just a sample of the ways (and there are many more) that parents do a disservice to everyone involved by stepping on the teacher’s toes. Of course, circumstances will arise that warrant parent intervention, such as bullying, abuse, etc. But overwhelmingly, these common interjections only accomplish one thing:

They teach your child that if they complain to mom or dad, the mess will be cleaned up. That certainly may be a temporary relief, but there is an inherent problem with that sequence of events. Your child has not learned any life lessons he or she will need to be successful down the road. We have essentially removed any natural consequences for mistakes that, as unpleasant as they may feel at the time, leave a lasting impression that actually changes behavior for the better.

To illustrate the point, try and recall a humiliation or let down from your youth. Maybe it wasn’t making the soccer team. Or somebody made fun of you because you forgot to wear deodorant and you smelled bad. Maybe you didn’t bother to study and bombed the test.

Those memories make us wince. We hated going through that. But guess what? We probably decided to do something differently because of it, if not just to avoid the experience in the future.

What if mom or dad had called the school and made everything a-okay without you having to change a thing? Where’s the motivation to push yourself if someone else is going to take care of it for you?

Herein lies the problem that so many kids struggle with. They don’t know how to come up with their own solutions because they haven’t been forced to yet. A certain gumption and mental fortitude is disturbingly lacking in so many upcoming students. Of course, I am generalizing here, but it is a problem for too many that will reap unwanted consequences for the future.

Let’s revisit our parental request examples from above and imagine that the teacher complied:

The child who had her seat changed because her neighbor was annoying? Now she doesn’t know how to manage being around irritating people. (If you’ve ever worked a job a day in your life, you realize this is a necessary evil.)

The student who earned a reward just because he thought he deserved it and is tired of waiting for recognition? Where is the push to keep going when he will have to keep working hard before a goal is in sight?

The child who now has extra time to eat lunch because she was too busy jibber-jabbering with friends to focus on what they were there to do in the cafeteria? She has missed out on learning how to prioritize her time when there’s a schedule to keep.

Extra homework because your gifted child was too smart for what had been assigned? If he really wants to be challenged, he needs to learn to motivate himself to explore ways in his free time to extend his knowledge and imagination.

And lastly, the child who only misbehaved because someone else did. How will she come to know that she cannot control the actions of others and instead take charge of her own attitude and behavior?

I make these cases in point to paint a picture of what starts to happen when we succumb to the urge as parents to swoop in and remove any painful experiences from the lives of our children. Sure, the tears subside for the moment. But what happens when they grow older? Isn’t our purpose as parents to guide them to self-sufficiency?

Maybe it’s a clearer perspective from the teacher’s point of view. As parents, we tend to mix our emotions with our child’s daily reality. But I’m willing to bet that if your child’s teacher has his or her best interests at heart (and most anyone who enters into a career in education does), that teacher is not only concerned with preparing your child academically. We also want to prepare them for life.

That’s what you want, too, isn’t it? We are all on the same team here, folks. Next time you feel inclined to save the day with a suggested alternative to a teacher’s method, ask yourself if perhaps the best course of action is to let your child learn the darn lesson.

Your kids may not thank you today. But you will thank yourself when they are older.

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As mamas, we naturally become the magic-makers for our families. We sing the songs that make the waits seem shorter, dispense the kisses that help boo-boos hurt less, carry the seemingly bottomless bags of treasures, and find ways to turn even the most hum-drum days into something memorable.

Sometimes it's on a family vacation or when exploring a new locale, but often it's in our own backyards or living rooms. Here are 12 ways to create magical moments with kids no matter where your adventures take you.


1. Keep it simple

Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but―trust us―your most magical memories don't require perfection. Spend the morning building blanket forts or break out the cookie cutters to serve their sandwich in a fun shape and you'll quickly learn that, for kids, the most magical moments are often the simplest.

2. Get on their level

Sometimes creating a memorable moment can be as easy as getting down on the floor and playing with your children. So don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees, to swing from the monkey bars, or turn watching your favorite movie into an ultimate snuggle sesh.

3. Reimagine the ordinary

As Mary says, "the cover is not the book." Teach your child to see the world beyond initial impressions by encouraging them to imagine a whole new world as you play―a world where the laundry basket can be a pirate ship or a pile of blankets can be a castle.

4. Get a little messy

Stomp in muddy puddles. Break out the finger paint. Bake a cake and don't worry about frosting drips on the counter. The messes will wait, mama. For now, let your children―and yourself―live in these moments that will all too soon become favorite memories.

5. Throw out the plan

The best-laid plans...are rarely the most exciting. And often the most magical moments happen by accident. So let go of the plan, embrace the unexpected, and remember that your child doesn't care if the day goes according to the schedule.

6. Take it outside

There's never a wrong time of year to make magic outside. Take a stroll through a spring rainstorm, catch the first winter snowflakes on your tongue, or camp out under a meteor shower this summer. Mother Nature is a natural at creating experiences you'll both remember forever.

7. Share your childhood memories

Chances are if you found it magical as a child, then your kids will too. Introduce your favorite books and movies (pro tip: Plan a double feature with an original like Mary Poppins followed with the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns!) or book a trip to your favorite family vacation spot from the past. You could even try to recreate photos from your old childhood with your kids so you can hang on to the memory forever.

8. Just add music

Even when you're doing something as humdrum as prepping dinner or tidying up the living room, a little music has a way of upping the fun factor. Tell Alexa to cue up your favorite station for a spontaneous family dance party or use your child's favorite movie soundtrack for a quick game of "Clean and Freeze" to pick up toys at the end of the day.

9. Say "yes"

Sometimes it can feel like you're constantly telling your child "no." While it's not possible to grant every request (sorry, kiddo, still can't let you drive the car!), plan a "yes" day for a little extra magic. That means every (reasonable) request gets an affirmative response for 24 hours. Trust us―they'll never forget it.

10. Let them take the lead

A day planned by your kid―can you imagine that? Instead of trying to plan what you think will lead to the best memories, put your kid in the driver's seat by letting them make the itinerary. If you have more than one child, break up the planning so one gets to pick the activity while the other chooses your lunch menu. You just might end up with a day you never expected.

11. Ask more questions

Odds are, your child might not remember every activity you plan―but they will remember the moments you made them feel special. By focusing the conversation on your little one―their likes, dislikes, goals, or even just craziest dreams―you teach them that their perspective matters and that you are their biggest fan.

12. Turn a bad day around

Not every magical moment will start from something good. But the days where things don't go to plan can often turn out to be the greatest memories, especially when you find a way to turn even a negative experience into a positive memory. So don't get discouraged if you wake up to rain clouds on your beach day or drop the eggs on the floor before breakfast―take a cue from Mary Poppins and find a way to turn the whole day a little "turtle."

Mary Poppins Returns available now on Digital & out on Blue-ray March 19! Let the magic begin in your house with a night where everything is possible—even the impossible ✨

After a pregnancy that is best described as uncomfortable, Jessica Simpson is finally done "Jess-tating" and is now a mama of three.

Baby Birdie Mae Johnson joined siblings Ace and Maxwell on Tuesday, March 19, Simpson announced via Instagram.

Simpson's third child weighed in at 10 pounds, 13 ounces.

Birdie's name is no surprise to Jessica's Instagram followers, who saw numerous references to the name in her baby shower photos and IG stories in the last few weeks.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to experts.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

At this moment in time, Simpson and her husband, former NFL player Eric Johnson, are probably busy counting little fingers and toes , which is great news because it means Simpson's toes can finally deflate. She's had a terrible time with swollen feet during this pregnancy, and was also hospitalized multiple times due to bronchitis in her final trimester.

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We're so glad to see Simpson's little Birdie has finally arrived!

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Spring is officially here and if you're looking for a way to celebrate the change in the season, why not treat the kids to some ice cream, mama?

DQ locations across the country (but not the ones in malls) are giving away free small vanilla cones today, March 20! So pack up the kids and get to a DQ near you.

And if you can't make it today, from March 21 through March 31, DQ's got a deal where small cones will be just 50 cents (but you have to download the DQ mobile app to claim that one).

Another chain, Pennsylvania-based Rita's Italian Ice is also dishing up freebies today, so if DQ's not your thing you can grab a free cup of Italian ice instead.

We're so excited that ice cream season is here and snowsuit season is behind us. Just a few short weeks and the kids will be jumping through the sprinklers.

Welcome back, spring. We've missed you!

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The woman who basically single-handedly taught the world to embrace vulnerability and imperfection is coming to Netflix and we cannot wait to binge whatever Brené Brown's special will serve up because we'll probably be better people after watching it.

It drops on April 19 and is called Brené Brown: The Call to Courage. If it has even a fraction of the impact of her books or the viral Ted talk that made her a household name, it's going to be life and culture changing.

Announcing the special on Instagram Brown says she "cannot believe" she's about to be "breaking some boundaries over at Netflix" with the 77-minute special.

Netflix describes the special as a discussion of "what it takes to choose courage over comfort in a culture defined by scarcity, fear and uncertainty" and it sounds exactly like what we need right now.

April 19 is still pretty far away though, so if you need some of Brown's wisdom now, check out her books on Amazon or watch (or rewatch) the 2010 Ted Talk that put her—and our culture's relationship with vulnerability and shame—in the national spotlight.

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

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If Marie Kondo's Netflix show got people tidying up, Brown's Netflix special is sure to be the catalyst for some courageous choices this spring.

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My husband and I recently had a date night that included being away from our son overnight for the first time since he was born three years ago (but don't let your heads run away with a fantasy—we literally slept because we were exhausted #thisiswhatwecallfunnow). It was a combination of a late night work event, a feeling that we had to do something just for the two of us, and simple convenience. It would have taken hours to get home from the end of a very long day when we could just check into a hotel overnight and get home early the next day.

But before that night, I fretted about what to do. How would childcare work? No one besides me or my husband has put our son to bed, and we have never not been there when he wakes up in the morning.

Enter: Grandma.

I knew if there was any chance of this being successful, the only person that could pull it off is one of my son's favorite people—his grandmother. Grammy cakes. Gramma. We rely so much on these extended support systems to give us comfort and confidence as parents and put our kids at ease. Technically, we could parent without their support, but I'm so glad we don't have to.

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So as we walked out the door, leaving Grandma with my son for one night, I realized how lucky we are that she gets it...

She gets it because she always comes bearing delicious snacks. And usually a small toy or crayons in her bag for just the right moment when it's needed.

She gets it because she comes with all of the warmth and love of his parents but none of the baggage. None of the first time parent jitters and all of the understanding that most kids just have simple needs: to eat, play and sleep.

She gets it because she understands what I need too. The reassurance that my baby will be safe. And cared for.

She gets it because she's been in my shoes before. Decades ago, she was a nervous new mama too and felt the same worries. She's been exactly where we are.

She gets it because she shoos us away as we nervously say goodbye, calling out cheerfully, "Have fun, I've got this." And I know that she does.

She gets it because she will get down on the floor with him to play Legos—even though sometimes it's a little difficult to get back up.

She gets it because she will fumble around with our AppleTV—so different from her remote at home—to find him just the right video on Youtube that he's looking for.

She gets it because she diligently takes notes when we go through the multi-step bedtime routine that we've elaborately concocted, passing no judgment, and promising that she'll follow along as best as she can.

She gets it because she'll break the routine and lay next to him in bed when my son gets upset, singing softly in his ear until she sees his eyelids droop heavy and finally fall asleep.

She gets it because she'll text us to let us know when he's fallen asleep because she knows we'll be wondering.

She gets it because just like our son trusts us as his mom and dad, Grandma is his safe space. My son feels at ease with her—and that relaxes me, too.

She gets it because when we come home from our "big night out" the house will be clean. Our toddler's play table that always has some sort of sticky jelly residue on it will be spotless. The dishwasher empty. (Side note: She is my hero.)

She gets it because she shows up whenever we ask. Even when it means having to rearrange her schedule. Even when it means she has to sleep in our home instead of her own.

She gets it because even though she has her own life, she makes sure to be as involved in ours as she can. But that doesn't mean she gives unsolicited advice. It means that she's there. She comes to us or lets us come to her. Whenever we need her.

She gets it because she takes care of us, too. She's there to chat with at the end of a long day. To commiserate on how hard motherhood and working and life can be, but to also gently remind me, "These are the best days."

After every time Grandma comes over, she always leaves a family that feels so content. Fulfilled by her presence. The caretaking and nourishment (mental and food-wise) and warmth that accompanies her.

We know this is a privilege. We know we're beyond lucky that she is present and wants to be involved and gets it. We know that sometimes life doesn't work out like this and sometimes Grandma lives far away or is no longer here, or just doesn't get it. So we hold on. And appreciate every moment.

As Grandma leaves, I hug her tight and tell her, "I can't thank you enough. We couldn't have done this without you." Because we can't. And we wouldn't want to.

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