Author Archives: Kirsten Chapman

Four Strategies for Disciplining Toddlers That Actually Work

Discipline is never fun, and particularly not when we are all spending so much time at home. I hope you find this helpful! ~Kirsten

Some of these get a bad rap, but they can be surprisingly effective when used correctly.

Your toddler has some pretty big ups and downs—one minute she’s counting to 20 like a genius and the next she’s got her brother in a headlock because he stole a goldfish from her. Sure, she’s figuring out boundaries and “asserting her independence,” but how can you change those lessons from destructive to constructive? Let’s talk about a range of discipline techniques to help you out.

1. Try Timeouts

Because they are a negative form of discipline, timeouts can get a bad rap nowadays. And I certainly wouldn’t recommend them for anything related to the potty, food or tantrums. But timeouts are still a go-to strategy if she’s touching an outlet after repeated warnings, hitting a sibling or not coming to brush her teeth after you’ve asked her ten times. Here are a few keys to success:

  • Nail down the logistics. Pick a boring place near the center of the action (a step works great) and aim for a minute for every year old.
  • Get everyone on the same page. Kids are master manipulators—if they can get away with something under dad’s watch but not mom’s, they’ll work him every time. It’s confusing for kids when consequences aren’t consistent.
  • Debrief after the timeout. Ask her why she got the timeout and what she can do different next time. Keep it short, give her a quick hug and move on. Rather than forcing an apology, try modeling concern for any human or animal victims instead.
  • Avoid the pitfall of too many warnings. Toddlers will tiptoe that line like a ballerina, so just give one warning. Once your toddler knows you’re for real, a countdown becomes quite effective: “If you don’t put that phone down by the count of three, then you’re going to get a timeout. One … two … thank you for listening.”

2. Practice Positive Reinforcement

It can be especially frustrating for us working parents when the interactions we do have with our toddlers feel negative. You don’t want your kid to be in trouble all the time! Enter positive reinforcement, where you set up an incentive before the problem occurs. Let’s look at a few key points:

  • Be very specific. It does not work to say, “If you’re good today, you can watch Curious George.” Focus on one frustrating behavior you want to eliminate. So if your child has been fighting the car seat lately, try this: “We’re going to go get in the car now. I’m bringing Spiderman with me. If you get into car seat right away, then you can have Spiderman! Does that sound like a good idea?”
  • Reward him the right way. When you start, set a low bar for success. He’s smart—once he realizes he has the power to earn things through good behavior, he’ll be more inclined to do it again next time. Keep rewards small. Experiences, such as looking at pictures or listening to a favorite song, are ideal. Sticker charts are a great way to work towards a bigger prize. Take a piece of construction paper and write the grand prize at the bottom. Then draw five blank squares above it and you’re set.

3. Employ “The Circle of Trust”

Dinnertime can be ground zero for your toddler’s bad behavior. Bedtime is in 30 minutes, but she’s feeding mashed potatoes to the dog and shaking milk onto her head. I already told you that timeouts aren’t great for food problems, so what can you do? Let me explain the circle of trust. (Yes, I know I stole it from Robert DeNiro in Meet the Fockers.) When your kiddo repeats the bad behavior you want to discourage, you quickly push her high chair or booster back a couple of feet from the table and go about your eating as if nothing happened. After 30 seconds you ask her if she’s ready to come back to the table and warn her that if she throws food again she’ll be pushed away. Toddlers are quite sensitive to being “out of the circle,” and this is a great low-stress way of changing behavior for the better at mealtime.

4. Make Floor Time

I love floor time. It’s a simple but powerful “backdoor” discipline technique, particularly useful when your toddler is caught in a cycle of seeking negative attention from you. Weekday evenings are a setup for these bad behavior cycles—you have 90 minutes to make dinner, feed your kid, play with him and get him ready for bed. But that fast-paced agenda doesn’t feel so much like attention to him, so he gets it by acting out. Dr. Stanley Greenspan was a child psychiatrist who developed floor time over 40 years ago for kids with autism. But in its simple form it can be a secret weapon for all parents. Try to set aside fifteen minutes several times per week where you are literally down on the floor with your child following his lead. He’s the boss—even if it’s super silly, resist the urge to redirect him. This gives him the attention he craves in a healthier way, and you’re going to have more happy time with your kid. Whichever technique you’re using with your toddler, remember to think firm but loving—be confident in your bond and in the person you’re trying to raise!


Dr. Luke Voytas is the author of Beyond the Checkup from Birth to Age Four: A Pediatrician's Guide to Calm, Confident Parenting. He is a full-time pediatrician at Evergreen Pediatrics in Vancouver, WA. He has also served as the chair of pediatrics at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, the largest hospital in southwest Washington. He is known for his ability to help even the most anxious parents learn to feel confident about what they're doing for their kids. He lives in Portland, OR, with his wife (who is also a pediatrician) and their kids.

Written by Luke Voytas M.D. for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

The Best Ways Family-Friendly Companies are Helping Employees with Childcare Right Now

I wish we could all be so lucky to work for companies who are able to make it through COVID successfully, and also be able to help with childcare. Food for thought…

It’s no secret working moms are anxious, overworked and on the verge of quitting their jobs. With just one in seven kids returning to full-time school this fall, and daycares shuttering across the country, many parents are bracing for months more of desperately trying to perform the role of teacher, cook, housekeeper and employee, all at once.

Thankfully, some companies recognize that working parents have been put in an untenable position, with little chance of relief on the horizon. In addition to offering benefits such as flexible and/or reduced schedules and paid leave, many have added or expanded programs meant to help parents cover the cost of childcare.

That’s crucial because high-quality childcare is so difficult to find right now. In California, for example, a quarter of daycares have closed, equaling a loss of 19,000 spots. Experts warn that up to 40 percent of daycares could permanently close across the country if Congress doesn’t provide the industry with more financial aid. And parents who can afford it have snapped up private sitters and tutors, leaving fewer and fewer affordable choices for working parents who could use a reprieve.

Bridget Garsh, the COO and co-founder of NeighborSchools, a site that connects parents with small family childcare providers, said she’s heard from HR leaders from companies both large and small, who are searching for ways to support working parents “because the problem simply can’t be ignored any longer.”

“The majority of companies have historically under-valued and under-appreciated the importance of childcare for their workforce, especially working moms, and they have largely left parents to fend for themselves,” she says, noting that only 19 percent of companies provide childcare benefits, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2019 Employee Benefits Survey. “Of those that have offered childcare benefits, they’ve primarily included corporate centers with limited spots and expensive price points that are simply unaffordable for many families or backup care options which don’t cover parents’ long-term needs. COVID has forced companies to realize that parents simply can’t do their jobs without childcare. They’re less productive, their stress levels are through the roof and sadly many of them are thinking of leaving the workforce because it’s all too much.”

That’s what KPMG LLP learned from the check-in surveys and focus groups it began hosting to keep abreast of how its employees are doing and what additional support or resources they may need. “One of the things we heard loud and clear is that while work-life balance is a challenge for everyone right now, it’s a particularly significant concern for parents and caregivers as the new school year begins amid so much uncertainty,” says Darren H. Burton, their vice chair of HR. “Once we heard this, we went right to work to identify ways we can provide assistance, by enhancing some of our existing benefits programs and introducing new ones.”

The professional services firm quadrupled the number of backup care days available to employees, expanded access to discounted tutoring, academic support and homework assistance and expanded its network of childcare centers to offer discounts at more than 2,000 centers nationwide.

KPMG isn’t alone. Childcare benefits are becoming a big way companies are helping working parents right now. Here are the additional perks other top employers are offering:

Sanofi

The biopharmaceutical company offered 25 days of emergency backup care March through May. In June, Sanofi offered another 25 days of subsidized in-home or center-based backup care for all employees. Employees also have free membership to an online tool that provides access to nannies, sitters, home cleaners, pet caretakers and more.

Boston Scientific

The medical solutions company has increased its backup care and now offers 15 days through Care.com, as well as covering “out of network” caregivers so that working parents have the flexibility to use those subsidized days for caregivers within their personal networks. The company is also launching programs to facilitate learning pods as well as nanny shares for employees who live near each other.

Bank of America

Bank of America might have the most generous backup childcare program available—there’s no limit on the number of days employees can claim while they’re working from home or in the office through year-end. Starting August 16 and running through December 31, the bank’s employees can get daily childcare reimbursements of $75 or $100, depending on their compensation, for children up to and including 12 years of age. For children with special needs, the age requirement is up to 21 years of age. Employees also get priority access to learning hubs for school-age children, which will be offered through a Bright Horizons partnership with Mathnasium and Sylvan, providing the opportunity for children in distance learning to participate in small groups with an in-person educator.

Zoetis

Before COVID-19, the animal health company offered employees whose childcare fell through 10 days a year to send their children to a backup facility run by Bright Horizons. Employees paid $15 a day for one child or $25 daily for two or more kids. Employees who used in-home backup childcare were reimbursed for $6 an hour, but they had to use a caregiver in the Bright Horizons network. The company changed its childcare offerings, and now employees can use whomever they wanted to watch their child—family members, friends, neighbors—and they can receive reimbursement of $100 a day for 40 days. Employees also have free access to Sittercity, an online marketplace for in-home care.

PwC

The professional services firm doubled its backup care reimbursement to $2,000 and is offering discounts on nanny placements, tuition programs and tutoring.

Salesforce

In June, the cloud-based software company increased its global backup childcare offerings through the summer so employees can get reimbursed up to $100 per day for five days each month. In August, the company extended that through the end of January 2021.

Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Silly and Strategic Card Games for Family Night(s)

As we all face more time at home with our COVID “pods” (big sigh), I thought these games would be good to share. Wishing you good health. ~Kirsten

It’s Friday night and the house is…quiet. Instead of separately and silently scrolling on your devices, why not break out some card games for a rousing family game night? Not only do interactive games help kids develop motor and problem solving skills, they also create invaluable bonding moments and encourage healthy competition.


Level up your family game night with these wacky and tactful card games.


Throw Throw Burrito

Food fight!


A delightful mixture of cleverness and agility, Throw Throw Burrito is the world’s first dodgeball card game for kids, teens, and adults. Two to six players earn points by collecting matching sets of cards faster than their opponents while simultaneously throwing and dodging squishy foam burritos. If you’re hit by an airborne burrito you lose points, but hit someone and you steal those player’s points. While some Burrito Battles involve a handful of players, others force the entire table to go Burrito War! Clear away the breakables and antiques, because you’ve never played a game with your family quite like this.


What Do You Meme? Family Edition

You've all seen them.


Tired of explaining what memes are to your grandparents? What Do You Meme? Family Edition will finally relieve that burden with a mighty good time. Compete to create the funniest memes by using one of your dealt caption cards to caption the photo card in each round. To win rounds and be crowned meme royalty, make sure to play to the rotating judge’s unique sense of humor. Each game contains 300 caption cards and 65 photo cards, so the laughs and surprises are endless.


Kids Against Maturity

The age appropriate spin-off of a modern classic.


Kids Against Maturity is the perfect parental tool to approach playtime and family time. Each player gets 10 white answer cards and takes turns asking the blue question cards. Each question asker chooses the funniest answer, and the player with the highest amount of most amusing responses wins the game. One set includes 500 question and answer cards, allowing for 40,000 unique card combinations. With age-appropriate humor for kids and innuendos for adults, this is a game the whole family will enjoy.


Phase 10

The race is on.


Like its name suggests, Mattel’s Phase 10 is a rummy-type game where players compete to complete 10 varied phases. Each specific phase is a combination of cards composed of sets, runs, colors, or all three. Players must complete one phase before advancing to the next round, and whoever finishes all phases first wins the game. Just when someone has taken the lead, Special Action “Wild” and “Skip” cards deliver shocking, game-changing moments that will leave everyone on the edge of their couch cushions.


Beat That

The ultimate battle of random skills.


Can you bounce two balls into two cups at the same time using only one hand? Bet on your ability to successfully complete a series of any of the 160 ridiculous Beat That! challenges using an assortment of random objects including dice, chopsticks, measuring tape, and more. Bounce, flip, stack, hop, roll, blow, balance and catapult your way to victory in this game that will bring big fun to the whole family.

Written by PopSci Commerce Team for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

5 Yoga Poses That Can Relieve Stress

Staying on the theme of stress relief, because this has been an election season like no other! I hope you find this helpful. ~Kirsten

If you’ve experienced more than a little stress from work and family and well, life, then try these five yoga poses to clear your head and unwind your body.

Extended Puppy Pose

When to do it: You’ve been driving or sitting all day or traveling.

In addition to settling a manic mind, this pose will help loosen tight shoulders and an aching back.

How to do it: This pose is like downward facing dog, except your knees remain on the ground. Start by coming onto all fours and walking your hands forward as you curl your toes under. Keep your hips over your ankles as you lower your chest until it hovers about an inch above the ground. Relax your neck (you may want to place a blanket under your forehead) but keep your arms active as you press your palms into the ground. Hold for 30 seconds before relaxing into child’s pose.

Lion Pose

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Oxygen Magazine

When to do it: To recover from family drama.

Carrying tension in your face and chest? Find relief from emotionally charged situations with this cathartic and energizing pose.

How to do it: Kneel on the ground, tucking one ankle under the other. (If kneeling like this hurts your knees, try placing a block between your feet for a little elevation.) Press your palms against your knees and energetically spread your fingers apart. Inhale through the nose. Then, open your mouth wide and stick your tongue out and downward. Open your eyes wide and exhale through your mouth, making a roaring “ha!” sound. Roar as many times you like, contracting the muscles in the front of your throat.

Marichi’s Pose

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Oxygen Magazine

When to do it: After a day of indulgence.

You ate, drank and were merry. But now all of those indulgences feel like they’re just sitting in your stomach. This pose is known for aiding digestion.

How to do it: Sit on the ground with your legs together and extended in front of you. Bend your right knee over your left leg and place your right foot on the ground. Bring your left heel as close to your sitting bones as possible. As you exhale, twist your torso to the right and place your right palm on the floor. Hook your left elbow over your right knee and use your arm to deepen the twist. Keep your left leg extended and continue to lengthen the spine upward as you twist. Repeat on the other side.

Legs Up The Wall

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Oxygen Magazine

When to do it: You can’t get to sleep (or stay there).

It’s time for bed, but your body and brain are fighting you like a petulant toddler. Legs up the wall can help with general anxiety, restlessness and insomnia.

How to do it: The key to this pose is getting your butt as close to the wall as possible. It’s helpful to start by laying on your side with your knees tucked into your chest. In this position, wriggle yourself toward the wall until your butt is pressed against it. Extend your legs and pivot your body until you’re lying on your back and the backs of your legs are resting against the wall. You can rest your arms alongside the body or place your hands on your belly. Relax here for up to 15 minutes.

Locust Pose

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Oxygen Magazine

When to do it: Your energy is zapped but your to-do list is overwhelming.

This energizing backbend pose can help you find your second (or third) wind when you simply can’t afford to be weary.

How to do it: Lie facedown with your arms along your sides. Let your forehead rest on the floor as you inwardly rotate your thighs. As you exhale, lift your head, torso, arms and legs so that you’re resting on your belly and pelvis. Roll back your shoulders, but be careful not to strain your neck. Hold the pose for up to a minute, maintaining steady breathing and focusing on finding length in the spine and legs. Release the pose and rest. Repeat one to two times.

Written by Jenessa Connor for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Mindfulness Every Day, Every Way

Not sleeping? Only a day until a huge election, I can tell you I am not sleeping. My stomach is in knots and I find myself holding my breath. I need some serious help with mindfulness! I keep trying to come back to happy thoughts, like seeing this stunning humpback whale. I hope this article helps you too. XO, Kirsten

When we think of the word mindfulness, a number of definitions rise to the top, such as being present and thoughtful. On paper, they sound reasonable but when we add in the element of human behavior and our unpredictable nature, two other words enter the mindful lexicon – reacting and responding.

What is the difference between reacting and responding? They seem interchangeable, but actually couldn’t be any more different in stressful moments. Reacting to a situation is acting without giving the action itself much thought. It tends to be quick, impulsive, and emotionally driven. Responding to a situation is a more thoughtful action, it is cool, calm, and collected. What if I told you that the simple act of mindfulness could be the key to more positive interactions and outcomes, despite any challenging moments that life might throw at you?

Reactions vs. Responses

Stressful moments in life are going to happen no matter what. This is a known fact. When was the last time that you were in a decent mood until a small annoyance or upsetting interaction happened and it ended up ruining your morning, afternoon, or even your entire day? Let’s say someone you live with forgets to do the one thing that you’ve asked them to do or your neighbor starts a sentence off with “no offense,” and then continues to say something offensive. A reaction to these situations might be snapping at them, getting defensive, or saying something hurtful. A response would start with asking questions to better understand their intention behind their actions before jumping to a conclusion or impulsively conveying the first set of feelings that arose from the situation.

Mindfulness as a Solution

When an annoying or hurtful event like this happens, a thought or emotion first forms, such as thinking your request was not honored and respected or feeling offended and hurt by your neighbor’s comment. These thoughts and feelings can take control if you allow them to. How and what you choose to do at this point changes the potential action and outcome for you and the other person. Reactions are subconscious actions fueled by a thought or feeling – they tend to push out any other (perhaps more appropriate) idea or response. It creates a knee-jerk reaction.

However, when you take a moment to practice mindfulness, you can stop the thoughts and feelings from controlling your action or mood. This helps you regulate your emotions.

Practice this the next time a stressful situation arises:


1. Take a moment to breathe. 

Try square breathing. Breathe from the stomach (not the chest) and inhale deeply for 4 seconds and hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, and hold again for 4 seconds). It’s a secret trick that Navy Seals use when they are in very stressful situations because it calms the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). This is the fight or flight response system. By regulating your breath, it brings you back to the present moment and away from negative thoughts that have a tendency to stay put. Square breathing also helps regulate and calms the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS), which regulates the heart, breathing, and cortisol levels.

2. Acknowledge the physical feelings in your body.

Maybe you can feel your shoulders tensing or your face starting to get warm. Do your best to correct the physical sensations that you have control over, such as relaxing your shoulders, or simply just observe the sensations you can’t immediately control, like your face warming up. Don’t judge these physical feelings. Instead, listen to what they are trying to communicate to you whether that is stress, anger, or another emotional reaction. If you notice a thought starting to come up for you, don’t judge that either. Acknowledge that the thought exists and tuck it away for later. By no longer resisting your experience, you are able to accept the present moment.

3. Return to the present moment.

Take note of 3 things in your surroundings. These things can be as simple as the rug on the floor or the leaves on a houseplant. You could even notice smells or sounds that you hear, anything that brings you back to the present situation slowly and calmly.

4. Set your intentions.

What is the desired outcome? If it is to be heard or feel respected when making a request to others, you might set the intention of understanding to help bring you to that outcome. If you are seeking an outcome where you can voice your hurt and be understood and acknowledged, you might set the intention of compassion for both yourself and the one who has hurt you. In cases where interaction with others is not applicable, you might set the intention of letting the situation “roll-off” of your back and not impact the rest of your day.

5. Seek a More Positive Outcome.

Giving yourself a moment (or more) of mindfulness and setting your intention before acting or speaking can completely change the way that your action is received. Doing so can subtly adjust your tone, delivery, and message. That thoughtful response and calmer demeanor in a situation tend to have a better chance of a more positive and desired outcome. And even in situations where you aren’t necessarily interacting with others, these tips can help you to ensure your day is not ruined by life’s small annoyances.

Just like with a muscle, the more you use and exercise it, the stronger it will get over time. Practicing mindfulness will become easier and feel more natural the more you use it. It’s important to know that it is a continual practice, you won’t just master it one day and never need to practice it again. It’s unrealistic to be perfect. You are a human with naturally occurring thoughts and emotions. Knowing that mindfulness is a lifelong practice that controls negative thoughts will allow you to be more gentle and forgiving of yourself when you start to feel difficult emotional reactions. 

An added benefit of practicing mindfulness in everyday life is reduced stress levels. Stress, especially over long periods, puts added pressure on the body and can disrupt several biological systems.

Written by Breanne Smith for Better Nutrition and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

We love the US Postal Service! But, with the election less than a week away, make sure you bring your ballot to a dropbox instead of mailing it starting today.

Voting has never been more important. We hope you have made a plan to vote! If you requested a mail-in ballot and you still have it in hand, please make sure to bring it to your polling site or put it in a dropbox. With the election less than a week away, your ballot may not arrive in time if you send it via USPS. Since recent federal changes have been made, on-time mailing rates are lower than expected. Please don’t risk your vote not being counted!


The USPS is an amazing service!

The USPS does a lot more than just deliver letters, says Michael Pignone, a doctor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas’s Dell Medical School. It allows for the delivery of prescription medication and helps doctors do testing and notify patients—it’s part of the healthcare system, Pignone says, and not only is the mail system crucial at present, but its healthcare roles have the potential to be expanded as America’s population ages and the pandemic rages on. 


“You can think of the post office as just this incredibly well-distributed last-mile logistics network,” Pignone says. “There are all kinds of possibilities of what the postal service can do.” 


While you might associate the post with mail from elderly relatives and regular fliers, the post office already plays important roles in the health system, especially in rural areas. 80 percent of prescriptions filled to veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs are delivered by USPS, according to a recent letter sent to Postmaster Louis DeJoy by a number of concerned United States Senators, serving more than 300,000 patients. 


Since restrictions slowed the movement of mail, “we have received many troubling reports from veterans waiting weeks for their prescriptions to arrive due to delays at USPS,” the letter reads. Prescriptions expected to arrive in three to five days are taking weeks. Some of the most common medications dispensed by the Veteran’s Affairs pharmacies, according to a 2013 government study, are intended to treat chronic conditions and should not be taken erratically. For example, Clopidogrel reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke in high-risk patients, and Gabapentin, an anticonvulsant, is used to treat nerve pain and PTSD. Then there’s Metformin to treat Type 2 diabetes, and Tramadol, an opioid pain medication. If these prescription drugs arrive late, or even not at all, it puts patients’ health at risk. 


In the general population, 20 percent of US residents over the age of 40 get prescriptions delivered by mail. They are also seeing delays because of mail slowdowns, reports National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the U.S. The American College of Physicians has also expressed concern about these delays, noting in a press release that mail-order prescriptions are particularly important during the pandemic for people with chronic conditions like diabetes or asthma, who are already disproportionately vulnerable to COVID-19.


“Any prescription medication can only be as effective as a patient’s ability to access it. We need to ensure that patients can continue to rely on the U.S. Postal Service to receive their critical medications,” the ACP release states.


The postal service also sends and returns numerous medical testing kits for many deadly conditions each year. In a recent opinion article, Pignone highlighted his institution’s use of mailed fecal immunochemical tests for colorectal cancer. Mailing these tests increases efficiency all around—it decreases the use of nurse and doctor time for routine screenings as well as reduces travel needs for treatment, which is particularly important for rural patients, he writes. And because of the USPS’s high penetration of the country and the relatively low cost of sending and receiving tests via this national body, it’s far preferable to using private couriers, he says. 


Similar initiatives exist elsewhere in the country, usually focusing on fecal tests. The FDA has also designed a protocol for mail-in COVID-19 tests. 


But beyond these interactions with the health system, the USPS also plays a role in shaping the social determinants of health. A recent brief from the Institute for Policy Studies identifies that 14.5 million people living in rural areas don’t have access to broadband internet, which seriously limits their ability to communicate without the mail. “This suggests that rural residents make up a disproportionate share of the estimated 18 percent of all Americans who pay their bills by the mail,” the IPS writes.


If people can’t receive and pay bills on time because of delays in the mail service, access to essential resources like housing, electricity, and telephones becomes unstable. Cuts to the mail service “[threaten] the public with more stress,” says Jean Ross, president of National Nurses United, “which leaves them a sitting duck for illness.”  


Rather than defunding the Post Office, we should focus on what new roles it can play, says Pignone—for aging Americans, those suffering from chronic conditions or getting tested for COVID-19, and for better serving the rural U.S. “This is a really rich resource that we need to preserve.”

Written by Kat Eschner for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

I hope you saw our earlier posts about USPS. I have been using the USPS since I launched my business 10 years ago. They have been incredibly good to me. As a small business owner, I can not afford to use UPS or FedEx. Please make sure to advocate for and defend the USPS to friends, family, and your local representative. It is critical to our nation. XO, Kirsten

Mommy Needs a Time Out

Moms do need time alone. This was true before the pandemic, and even more so now, when we are spending almost all of our time at home with our kids. Make a space for yourself to be alone, because we all need it at times, and that kind of self-care is necessary.

Namaste, Ladies

I’m one of those working moms who is always asked how I do it all. I’m not proud of it. It’s really just a testament to my ability to smack a smile on my face regardless of how insane I’m feeling at the moment. I think most working moms ( and let’s be honest this includes women who stay at home and their full-time job is being their families’ CEO ) are frighteningly good at acting like we have it all under control even when we feel like we are drowning.

Last week was one of those weeks. I felt overwhelmed at work , my oldest son was completely bombing seventh grade , I was a nervous wreck because I have a major test in eight weeks that I feel woefully underprepared for, oh yeah, and just for fun I broke out in a stress rash. Good times. But I was determined to just push through it. I could feel the stress in every muscle in my body. I was snapping at everyone. I just couldn’t bear to have one more thing put on my plate.

Then my friend insisted that she was going to stop by. The thought of taking even fifteen minutes out from studying sent me into a tailspin of frustration and anger. Didn’t anyone get how overwhelmed I was feeling? Couldn’t people manage without me for just one day?

My friend walked through the door and gave me those girlfriend-wtf-is going-on-with-you- eyes. I tried to fake it better. And by “it” I mean acting like I wasn’t ready to break down into a sobbing heap on the floor. She sat me down and said she could see how awful I was feeling and then asked if I would do some yoga with her to see if that would help . I’m that girl who doesn’t meditate because relaxing makes me too uptight. Or I fall asleep on the floor for two hours. True story. But this simple recognition of my stress and an offer to try to help nearly had me in tears.

After twenty minutes of cobra pose, downward dog and happy baby I actually felt the stress leaving my body and my mind calming down. And I realized that my pathological urge to “just push forward” was actually making everything worse not better. And that by taking one step back I would be able to take a whole bunch of steps forward because now my brain felt focused and clear instead of stressed and overwhelmed.

Lesson learned: sometimes mommy needs a time out. But be forewarned, the only one who can put this mommy in a time out is me. Telling me I look like I need a break could earn you tears of gratitude but depending on my mental state it could still result in me wanting to punch you in the throat. Namaste.

Written by Nicole Corning for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

The Bittersweet Moment You Realize Your Baby Isn’t a Baby Anymore

I had to admit to this reality quite some time ago, since my boys are now 15 and 12. The crazy thought about that is that it means that I came up with the idea for Kleynimals almost 12 years ago! I admit that I ended up getting a little dog a few years ago, mostly as a way to help eliminate the baby pangs. It was a warm being that I could still carry around and cuddle. LOL. If only we could stop time. ~Kirsten

At some point we are all done having babies—even if we don’t want to be.

A few days ago I met a pregnant friend for lunch, and I couldn’t catch my breath as I walked to the restaurant. My car was filled to the brim with baby gear I was giving her: a crib mattress, a jumper, bodysuits and baby rattles. It was the last of the baby items in our house to be passed on. I realized I was entering a difficult new stage of motherhood: the end of having babies.

I did keep a few sentimental items, but ultimately, I knew the remaining ones should go to families who needed them. Because let’s face it, you need a lot of stuff when you have a baby, and it certainly isn’t cheap. Plus, it’s an established rite of passage to pass on and share baby items with other moms—some of the goods I was giving my friend I had received from other moms, myself. It felt right to pay it forward.

Nevertheless, there is no better way to describe the feeling of giving away the last of your baby stash than completely bittersweet. It occurred to me that nearly every mother goes through a range of emotions when the end of the baby phase occurs, but for me, it was slightly more bitter than sweet.

My husband and I always wanted to have more than one child, but we unfortunately experienced secondary infertility. After several years of failed fertility treatments, we decided to move on and embrace that we were meant to be a family of three. Our almost 4-year-old son, Alexander, would be an only child, but we were grateful for him; he would be loved, and we would enjoy the perks of having only one child.

I would be lying if I said it was simple for me to give away the baby items and move on. It wasn’t easy, and it still isn’t easy, but it becomes more bearable with each day that passes. Occasionally, I struggle with reconciling the family structure I had always imagined and the petite family of three we are today. But then I decisively shift my thoughts on to acceptance and gratitude for my beautiful life at the present. Letting go of the last of the baby items was a big step in accepting our circumstances and living in the present.

Either way, the end of having babies is universally bittersweet for all moms, because at one point we will all be done having babies. We reflect upon the time past, and we worry we did not treasure it enough. Our once squishy, cooing babies who used to fall asleep in our laps are now tall, little monsters who never want to go to sleep and always want to talk about poop and farts. We ponder: Did we stop to grab the baby rolls enough?

Working mothers may take the end of this phase even harder. We question our choices and whether we weren’t present enough. A perfect example: I missed my son crawling for the first time while I was out of town at a work conference. Should I have been at home, so that I didn’t miss that moment? But then, logic hits me. I could have been at the grocery store or the post office when he crawled, so I couldn’t blame work. I still believe we need to have independent pursuits and passions outside of parenting, to be the best version of parents we can be.

As I exit this phase of motherhood, with my heart full of memories, and step into the next phase, I’ve realized:

The end of the baby phase is bitter.

There is something that is purely magical about a baby’s first year that can never be replicated in a child’s later years. The first few months of feeling pure awe and joy. The baby’s first noises, eye contact, smiles and coos. The first time they recognize your voice. The first snuggles. The first steps. These are the most wonderful moments that you will never forget, and we will miss it.

But, the end of the baby phase is sweet.

Sleeping is so wonderful. My child understands me when I speak to him. He laughs at my jokes. He feeds himself (mostly). He attempts to wipe his own butt, and we are no longer putting Mr. Pampers’ kids through college. Travel is much more feasible, and we can order him almost anything off a menu instead of having to worry about making him a bottle.

It is all bittersweet. My little man has become just that, a little man, and I’m loving each step of this adventure in motherhood.

Written by Heather Schwartz Sanderson for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Toilet Training Your Cat isn’t as Great as it Sounds

LOL. We could all use a little laughter today considering what is really going on in the world (and the horrendous presidential “debate” last night). While toilet training your toddler is probably more apropos for this Facebook feed, I couldn’t help but chuckle from this. Enjoy! ~Kirsten

A cat politely peeing into a toilet—it almost sounds like a dream. No more scooping litter twice a day, no more cluttering your living room with a clunky litter box. So understandably, toilet-training cats burst into the scene in the early 2010s, products like Litter Kwitter promising that your cat will be toilet trained within six weeks.

Here’s how it works. The training kit includes an instructional DVD describing a three-step regimen and concentric plastic discs to install into your toilet, which, at first, completely cover the toilet bowl. The discs can be covered with kitty litter to make your cat feel at home, perched on top of the toilet. Every two weeks, the innermost ring can be removed, until your cat can at long last poop or pee into a gaping, wide-open toilet bowl. The company’s website sings lofty praises of the process: “Your cat learns to go directly into the toilet while balancing all four paws on the seat with their rear over the hole.”

However, as cute as toilet-trained cats are, it’s not as easy as simply sharing a toilet bowl with your cat—and it could actually be detrimental to your kitty’s health. Here’s what cat behavioral specialists have to say about this controversial training process.

“The idea is nuts,” says Jackson Galaxy, cat behavior expert and host of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell. “It symbolizes changing the nature of what a cat is in order to better suit your purposes.”

Galaxy, who has been working with cats for twenty-five years, centers his cat-rearing philosophy around preserving and respecting the cat’s natural instincts. This includes the cat’s routine of stepping into sandy-textured litter, doing its business, and burying the waste. To deny a cat a litter box reveals the owner’s inability to compromise with a cat’s nature, and even instigate behavioral and medical issues down the line. “It’s a very unnatural move for cats to make, perching themselves precariously over water in order to eliminate,” says Galaxy.

And what if your cat falls into the toilet? Laughs aside, Lisa Stemcosky, a cat behavior consultant in the D.C. area, says that even one splash into the toilet can have long-term consequences. “That’s a traumatic event,” says Stemcosky. “They get wet, it’s terrifying.” Even if cats are successfully toilet trained, the stress surrounding going to the toilet can cause mental distress and toilet and litter aversion, especially if an accident occurs when no one is home.

Medical issues may creep up on cat owners if cats continually use the toilet. Tracking your cat’s waste may be one of the most effective ways to catch diseases and conditions early. One sift through a litter box can reveal multitudes of issues. A lack of urination can indicate a urinary tract infection, urethra blockage, or even diabetes. Diarrhea and constipation can also reveal serious underlying issues, according to Stemcosky. If your cat’s waste is flushed down the toilet, these signs may go unnoticed.

Cats who aren’t fans of the toilet might just choose not to urinate, according to Mikel Delgado, an animal behaviorist and postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. “They will retain their urine and hold it as long as possible,” says Delgado. “This can lead to health problems because they’re not urinating when they need to.” Long-term urine retention can lead to bladder damage, urinary tract infections, and even kidney damage.

Plus, toilet traffic might occur, especially in busy, bustling homes. And anyone who has a cat knows that they aren’t going to wait patiently in line for their turn in the bathroom. “If the seat’s up, the door’s closed, or someone’s using the toilet, they will likely find someplace else to eliminate,” says Patience Fisher, a cat behavior consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The bathroom floor, the bathtub, or anywhere else in the house is fair game. One of Stomcosky’s past clients adopted an adult cat, who had previously been toilet trained. Upon entering a new home, the cat struggled to adjust to a litter box, and continued to pee in the toilet and all over the bathroom. “It can be confusing and very stressful,” says Stemcosky. Delgado, who also works as an animal behavior consultant, claims that she’s unwilling to work with a client whose cat has urinary issues unless they supply their cat with a litter box. “I feel like it’s one of the most basic things you can do to care for your cat.”

“If you don’t just want to scoop a litter box, don’t get a cat,” Galaxy says. “There’s very little that they demand of us as opposed to dogs. Their demands are few. Having a place to eliminate is one of them.”

If you do decide to take the plunge and toilet train your cat, here’s one last word of advice—don’t teach them how to flush. There’s a chance they might enjoy it a little too much.

Written by Candice Wang for Popular Science and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Dads Three Times as Likely as Moms to Receive a Promotion While Working From Home During COVID

This pandemic has revealed so much inequality in our country, it’s disappointing to add one more thing to the list. A shout out to all Mom’s… Here’s to you and the incredible job you do juggling everything! ~Kirsten

While the COVID-19 crisis has ushered in an array of unsettling changes, one outcome has been touted as overwhelmingly positive and long overdue: the shift to remote work.

Freed from the burden of commuting to an office, employees are more productive and have more time to manage family obligations, or so the thinking goes. But in a world where domestic duties typically fall to moms—as the pandemic has made painfully obvious—does working from home really leave mothers and fathers on equal footing? Not even close, according to the results of a new survey from theBoardlist and Qualtrics.

Men and women have vastly different takes on how working from home has impacted their careers. The poll surveyed 1,051 US adults between the ages of 18 and 65, including 685 respondents with children. Almost half of men (42 percent) believed that working from home for an extended period of time would have a positive affect on their career progression, but only 15 percent of women said the same. Nearly half (49 percent) of female respondents believed it wouldn’t have an impact either way, versus 20 percent for men. Twice as many women as men believed it could have a somewhat or extremely negative impact on their careers (19 percent vs. 9 percent, respectively).

A deeper dive into the data proves that women are right to be wary of remote work: Over one-third of men with children at home (34 percent) say they’ve received a promotion while working remotely, while only 9 percent of women with children at home say the same. On a similar note, 26 percent of men with children at home say they’ve received a pay raise while working remotely, while only 13 percent of similarly situated women say the same. Dads were also far more likely than moms to have taken on additional leadership, been given responsibility for important projects, to have received praise or recognition inside the company and to have received a positive formal review while working remotely.

“Because women often earn less than their male partners, women more often choose to leave their careers at the height of their advancement and earning power in order to raise children and keep their households running. The hardest part of that equation is that employers often judge female employees as less dedicated to their jobs as a result when often it is the farthest thing from the truth,” said Shannon Gordon, CEO of theBoardlist.

Other recent studies confirm that moms have scaled back their working hours lately. A study published in the academic journal Gender, Work & Organization revealed that mothers have reduced their work hours four to five times more than fathers in heterosexual couples where both the mother and father were continuously employed and have children under 13, reports The New York Times.

Even when we are working, it’s not always easy to focus. Dads are also far more likely to say they’ve been more productive working from home (77 percent) compared to 46 of moms who say the same, according to the survey from theBoardlist and Qualtrics. Similarly, an English study found that dads get twice as much uninterrupted work time during the day (5.1 hours) compared to moms (at 2.6). Nearly half (47 percent) of moms’ paid work hours are split between work and other distractions.

You can probably guess just what those “distractions” are: making lunch, dispensing snacks, helping with school assignments, putting away dishes… the list is infinite. And while research shows men are pitching in more around the house during the pandemic, there’s simply too much work to be done without the army of caretakers and teachers parents typically rely on. Working moms simply don’t have time for it all. Something has to give, and too often the answer is paid work. A recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, analyzing data collected in the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, found that three times as many out-of-work Millennial moms (defined as those born between 1981 and 1996) cited school or childcare closures as the main reason they weren’t working right now, compared to only 11 percent of Millennial dads who said it was why they weren’t working.

Experts have long hoped that remote work would lead to a more diverse workforce, and there are good reasons to believe they’re right. “If someone can work remotely for their position, that removes one financial barrier to entry by eliminating relocation fees and paying for housing in a more expensive city. It also creates geographic diversity by opening up an entirely new pool of talent because the candidate can be located anywhere,” said Manon DeFelice, the founder and CEO of Inkwell, in an op-ed for Working Mother.

But this most recent survey seems to confirm what economists have feared: that the pandemic could have a long-lasting negative impact on women’s advancement in the workforce, and working from home might not be a panacea for our problems, after all. “Our study findings would indicate that women are cognizant that their careers could be impacted more than men if they were to work from home often,” Gordon says. “This discrepancy should be a red flag for employers.”

Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.