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The mental load of motherhood is about to get so much worse

Tonight I'm crying for myself and all the other mothers who just found out school is closed. All the moms who are making frantic phone calls right now, trying to rearrange their lives while people tell them to "relax."

The mental load of motherhood is about to get so much worse

When I told my spouse our child's school would be closed this week and for the foreseeable future, I had tears in my eyes.

"Relax, babe. Just relax," he told me.

I love this man. I married him. I had a child with him. I love him so much. But those four words highlight how far apart we are sometimes. I cannot possibly relax right now.

He feels like nothing is going to change for him and I feel like my world is falling apart.

He's going to go to work tomorrow and I will stay home, because I always do. He's right when he says our family has an incredible privilege that most don't: I work from home for a company that was founded by two mothers with parents and flexible work in mind. As Motherly's Senior News Editor, I'm deep enough in the statistics each day to know he's right—this company is my saving grace in this situation. Most working mothers don't have what I have. My bosses have my back.

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But that doesn't mean this isn't going to be hard in a way that my partner can't understand.

Tonight I'm crying for myself and all the other mothers who just found out school is closed. All the moms who are making frantic phone calls right now, trying to rearrange their lives while people tell them to "relax."

Yes, some dads are going to stay home from work this week, or watch the kids over their laptop screen while working from home. But significantly more mothers will. The research shows that when kids are out of school moms are 10 times more likely than fathers to have to take the day off and stay home.

Before anyone mentions #notalldads, let me say that I applaud and value today's dads for stepping up in ways the generations before them did not and that I recognize how much today's fathers want to be equal parents. But I don't believe that means they can see how hard this is going to be for us moms—we're going to carry the load here and our loads are already so heavy.

Modern dads who believe in the idea of gender equality and see so much potential in their wives and daughters and female colleagues can also hinder progress toward gender equality because they enjoy a place of privilege at the expense of the women and girls in their lives. That kind of thing is uncomfortable to recognize and easy to ignore.

This is hard, but it is the right choice.

My text messages, inboxes and social feeds are filling up with strong words from local mothers who cannot believe our schools will be closed this week. We found out just before 5 o'clock on a Sunday evening that schools and day cares would be closed on Monday and most people were not prepared to rearrange their lives literally overnight.

Still, I do not begrudge health officials for making this choice. This was the right choice to flatten the curve of the coronavirus. We've got to engage in social distancing, and schools and day cares are basically mass gatherings. Officials are trying to keep us safe, but in doing so they've highlighted just how vulnerable we are.

As Motherly's Senior News Editor I write this so often it should be tattooed on my forehead, but 85% of mothers don't feel society supports or understands them. They told us so during Motherly's second annual State of Motherhood survey, the only statistically accurate survey of millennial moms.

Moms told us they're not supported and the pandemic is proving it.

When schools closed and my husband said "relax, babe," fellow moms are saying things like "I can't breathe right now," or "I'm having a panic attack."

There are mothers who need to go to work this week. If they don't, they could be evicted or they won't have food for their families. And now they have no one to watch their children. Some children will probably end up staying home alone this week, others may end up in situations that are the opposite of "social distancing" and end up packed into unlicensed day cares in a neighbor's basement.

This is why 2020 has to be the #yearofthemother, and why Motherly wants to share the stories of all mothers.

About 325 words ago I said that many modern dads are blind to the barriers preventing true gender equality because their privilege allows them to ignore it. Before that I mentioned how privileged I am to have the position I do here at Motherly, a company that is pioneering flexible work for parents.

I can't let my privilege make me blind to the struggles of other moms. While I am grateful that I will be able to do my job from home this week (with Paw Patrol running in the background instead of CNN, and with non-stop interruptions to refill chocolate milk or find the blue crayon), I know that many moms can't do their jobs from home.

I know some moms have no health insurance and are terrified about what even a mild case of COVID-19 could do to their family financially.

I know some moms depend on large gatherings, events or tourism and other factors being impacted by this pandemic and now have no way to earn an income.

I know some moms gave up paid work to support their partner while raising kids and are now going to be wondering how to stretch a single, smaller than usual paycheck when a health crisis is destabilizing their partner's industry.

I know the motherhood penalty is going to come down so hard on so many working mothers who are going to shoulder the load during this crisis at the expense of their career, because too many workplaces punish people for acknowledging their humanity and especially their role as parents.

The pandemic is highlighting all the ways that society is failing mothers, parents and kids and Motherly is going to keep informing the world about this, and keep asking lawmakers what they're going to do about it.

So, no—I can't relax right now.

If you are a mother who is being impacted the pandemic in a way you think we should be talking about please email news@mother.ly.






This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As Motherly reported earlier this week, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend are expecting their third child! We couldn't be happier this third-time mama!

The reveal came as part of Legend's new music video for "Wild", which is basically a celebration of the couple's love story.

Here's everything you need to know about Chrissy Teigen's third pregnancy:

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