Donna Duarte-Ladd


Relationship Expert Offers Advice for a Healthy Marriage Amid a Pandemic

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Love, Marriage & A Pandemic: Keeping Your Marriage Healthy

We are now coming around to one full year of being in a full-blown pandemic. Perhaps you were the kind of partner that pre-Covid knew you loved your spouse yet were okay with the work travel their job requires. Or you took turns spending an evening out with the girls or boys where you socialized and unwinded. These were pockets in your lives where you both had a welcome breather and, for the sake of being real here, one less person to worry about in the day to day of marriage and kids. Fast forward to the last year, where couples have been more together than ever and under tremendous circumstances.

We recently touched base with Dr. Venus Nicolino (“Dr. V”), a renowned relationship expert and the bestselling author of Bad Advice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Age of Bullshit. Dr. V answers New York Family’s questions and shares on how to get your marriage to a healthier state, reconnect again and keep it intact.

As quarantine and the pandemic lingers on, how does one not let it ruin your marriage?

The COVID Quarrel is very real. But couples aren’t meant to be pent up for an entire year, are you kidding me?! You can’t do the stuff you normally do for fun, money is tight, and the world is falling apart. We’re not damn superheroes. Not even superheroes could do this!  

This pandemic has taken so much from us; don’t let it take your marriage. You and your partner can make it to the ever-drifting finish line together, I promise you. When you’re feeling like the stress and madness in your relationship is just too much to handle, remember to find some perspective. As heinous as this advice sounds, taking some time to remember how horrible everything is around you right now can save your marriage. And that’s not to invalidate how annoying your partner putting their soggy towel on your side of the bed every night is; it’s to validate how insanely annoying everything else is. And don’t be fooled — because you’re forced to spend so much time with your partner, you believe you’re learning “who they are.” You’re not. You’re learning who they are during a deadly pandemic that’s taken over 400,000 lives and frozen life as we know it. Trying to reflect on who they are as a person fundamentally right now is like looking at their image in a funhouse mirror (that’s not fun at all). 

You want an extra perfect relationship in the middle of a deadly pandemic? Well, guess what! You’re both humans with emotions, and your external environments can wind up shaking the foundation of a relationship that typically has had a cool, peaceful core. Stand together as much as you can, but don’t deny yourself the right to be extra imperfect. They say to never make decisions about relationships in a heated moment. Well, I say we’ve been living in a jacuzzi that was set way too high for the last year and it isn’t very fun for anyone right now.

Being with each other and kids 24/7 can take even the healthiest relationships to a rough patch. How can one salvage the damage of poor behavior, words said at low moments in the past year? 

Everybody slips up, but 2020 was a whole year of banana peels. And sadly, it looks like 2021 might be more of the same, at least for a little while. If your relationship has experienced some harsh words and low moments, I say you’ve got to remember that they’re just that — moments. The best thing you can do right now is trying to see beyond those moments because they don’t define your partnership. Don’t let them turn into something bigger than they are. Just because we’re all at home binge-watching Netflix dramas, doesn’t mean you need to star in your own every day.

If damaging words were said or done, I want to direct people to the power of a sincere, “I’m sorry.” Not the thing you say in that sarcastic, passive tone — the thing you say with intention as you’re looking your partner in the eye, and after you acknowledge the harm that was caused by your behavior. At the end of the day, humans want to feel seen. We want to feel like we’re not screaming our needs into a void because our partner retreated into the bedroom to rage-watch The Bachelor after a fight. Instead, be present, and share your side of the story, too. We all know the truth is somewhere in the middle, and just because you were an asshole doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be heard, as well. Finding common emotional ground with each other gets you off those islands you’ve been floating on solo in the sea of conflict.  

The pandemic brings on unprecedented stress; how can a parent who has not many options of places to go to and has children to watch make sure they don’t lose it on their partner?

This is the oldest trick in the book — before you say that mean thing, you’ll wind up regretting half the time, take ten seconds to breathe and ask yourself, “Is this worth escalating right now?” And that’s hard to do. Exercising impulse control in an argument can feel like trying to not rear-end the guy who cut you off just for the rage of it. There is a middle ground between sticking up for yourself and not causing a full-blown couple crash. Science shows that hurtful words said in even just one argument can have a lasting impact on how someone feels in the relationship forever. You don’t want that, especially if it’s not how you’d normally conduct yourself. Everyone’s experiencing some kind of elevated stress right now; don’t let it mess up your life any more than it already has. 

  • If a breath exercise sounds like some new-age crap you’re not trying to do, then you can just take a breather. Excuse yourself to the other room for a second. Nobody said it has to be graceful. You can just zip it and zip it to the closet for a moment. And if your partner tries to follow you?
  • Even if you think your partner is being an unfair jerk about things (I see you Mr. “How many times can my temple take running into the corner of this open cupboard”), try to verbalize to them that your goal is to work through this heated hang-up together. Letting them know that ultimately their side IS your side can be incredibly disarming and instantly switch up the confrontational energy of a fight.

How can you reconnect with your partner while still in a Pandemic?

You’d think couples would have an easy time connecting in the pandemic given the roof they share 24/7. But as anyone knows that’s been stuck with anyone for too long, we can start to resent that roof and find escape through things like our phones and the never-ending scroll of social media. Believe it or not, you can make hanging out with your partner fun again. Get dressed up, order takeout from your favorite restaurant, drink too much wine, and then order pizza (or more pizza, if you’re fancy and had it for your main course). Download an app that gives you and your partner prompts to share stories and preferences that you’ve somehow never even heard them say yet. For example, name of app + funny prompt/answer. Get outside. Plan walks to your local park. In many ways, COVID’s left us with some of the most fundamentally connective things to do with our SOS. And you know what might help you feel even more connected? Take a break from one another sometimes. Eat your dinner separately one night. Stay up late playing your kid’s favorite video game with them. Have a dad / mom-daughter / son hangout. Allowing your relationship some space to breathe can be a breath of fresh air that’ll leave you excited for the time you get to spend together. 

Dr. Venus Nicolino, best known as “Dr. V,” is a renowned relationship expert, media personality and host of WeTV’s Marriage Boot Camp, which just aired its 8th season. Dr. V recently became a bestselling author and debuted at #1 on the LA Times with the release of her first book, “Bad Advice: How to Survive and Thrive in an Age of Bullshit”. The New York Post called it one of “five books that will change your life.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.  

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Children’s Books To Read in Honor of Black History Month

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10 Books For Black History Month and Beyond

This month, February, is Black History Month, a time to honor Black America. And while we do this, it is also an opportunity to educate our children about what it means to be Black and what better way than by learning through literature?

Here are 10 books for the kids and family to read this month and every month afterward.

Psst..check out more ways to celebrate- Black History Month: Family-Friendly Activities in New York

Ambitious Girl by Meena Harris, Illustrated by Marissa Valdez

Author Meena Harris (yes, niece of Vice President Harris) shares on an ‘ambitious girl’ and her journey of discovering what girls and women have faced in the past and present challenges and what they may face in the future obstacles. An incredible story for girls to read about the positivity of being ambitious and reframing what it means to be ambitious and proud. Ages 4 to 8.

Don’t Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller

In this sweet book ( a follow up to Princess Hair), we learn what Aria loves about her hair, which compliments are okay, but touching her hair without asking? Not okay. Beautifully and creatively illustrated, the reader follows Aria on her adventures and learns how she skillfully demands boundaries. Ages 4 to 8.

Shirley Chisholm Is A Verb by Veronica Chambers, Illustrated by Rachelle Baker

A picture biography book on pioneering woman Shirley Chisholm. Authored by bestselling author Veronica Chambers and vividly illustrated by Rachelle Baker, kids will learn about this amazing woman and her life.

For starters, she was the first Black woman to campaign for the Democratic nomination for the United States’ presidency. And there is more for children to learn about, including her childhood in Barbados to attending Brooklyn College. I didn’t learn about this icon until college; start them young and teach your child about Shirley Chisholm. Ages 4 to 8.

Black Music Greats: 40 inspiring icons by Olivier Cachin, Illustrated by Jérôme Masi

Kids will learn from some of the greatest Black music icons of all time in this artfully and detailed book. Learn about Prince, Nina Simone, and other music legends’ backgrounds, hit songs, and other fun facts like nicknames and their signature style.

An eclectic array of music icons from Marvin Gaye to N.W.A is featured in this cool book. Kids will learn how these Black artists changed the music scene, defined an era with their sound, and in some instances changed the musical landscape with their sound. Ages 7 to 10.

Cocoa, Tea & Honey Paperback by Kimberly Davis-Peters

A lovely read for your toddler, this book shares how to celebrate all shades of brown complexions. It is about looking beyond all skin colors and accepting friends for who they are, not what they look like. Vividly illustrated, this book makes for a lovely morning or bedtime storytime. Ages infant to 12.

For the full list of children’s books, visit NewYorkFamily.com.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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5 Self-Care Apps To Help Support Busy Moms

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5 Apps That Help Moms With Self-Care

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, many mothers have shared that they feel disconnected from how we lived life a year ago. While virtual life can be both a blessing and a curse, it can also serve as a lifeline. Here are five apps that focus on mental health, gratitude, or can serve as a tool to help you get through the day.

Psst…read about Meaghan Murphy: Author of Your Fully Charged Life and Tips on Moving Forward with Positivity!

Daily Self-Care: Shine

Founded by two former work colleagues who realized that the support they provided to each other was instrumental. This support was “everything,” as they state on Shine, and they wanted to help more people.

The Shine premium account offers many tiers of daily support. Start your morning with the ‘Daily Shine,’ a 9-minute breathing exercise that sets an intention such as helping you when life throws you a curveball. Or working on letting go of the past. You can ‘check-in’ for the day and click on the mood you are currently feeling or click on gratitude. Depending on your perspective, the app will provide you the tools to help your work through this feeling. For example, when I clicked that COVID- 19 was a worry, I was presented with a helpful article on “How to Build a Routine during the Pandemic.” The app offers a library of meditations (800 +) from some pretty cool people covering topics that affect many mothers, such a COVID-19, Black Mental Health, and a biggie for moms, sleep. With gentle nudging from Shine, it will be suggested to write out a helpful mantra for the day, read, or post it on the community board. 

Gratitude Journal: Presently

If you own an Android and are looking to document what you are grateful for this year, then you may want to try Presently. This free app (and ad-free, whoo hoo) lets you record daily entries as well as a jaunt down past gratitudes. As busy parents know, it is easy to drop off from self-care; you can set helpful daily reminders to keep your practice going. It will also nudge you to share your thoughts by presenting you with an array of questions that get the brain and heart reflecting. You can treat Presently as your personal diary and keep your entries to yourself or share them with others. The app allows you to import and export entries. 

Meditation & Yoga Support: Insight Timer

If anxiety or lack of sleep has been an issue for you, the Insight Timer app is a free app that has become quite popular. Insight Timer shares yoga, meditation, and live sessions that can help with sleep and anxiety. There is even a mediation guide the kids can join in on from the wildly optimistic and happy Goldie Hawn, “Keep Your MindUP For Your Brain.” One of my personal favorite meditations is from the author and wellness consultant Alexander Elle “Re-Centering In Times Of Uncertainty.” 

If you would like to take your practice to the next level by having access to their library of micro-courses, you can sign up for a subscription that is $60 for the year. 

Vision Boarding: Canva

Vision Boarding is when you create a ‘board’ that helps you set goals for the future. It is best to set a realistic number of goals, dig into old magazines, cut out words and images. A modern approach would be to design an ’a board’ via an app. Whether you craft on paper or your device, your board should feel inspirational and aspirational. Canva is free and offers fun fonts; using an array of templates, and you can add images, edit, change up with gorgeous filters, icons, and shapes. The app is free, but you are charged for any premium elements you add to your design. You can download in PNG, JPG, and PDF formats.

Mood Self-Care: MindDoc

If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder — MindDoc is a self-management app that offers insights and monitors your mood. When many people do not have as many human connections as we had pre-pandemic — MindDoc can be a useful tool in self-management for mental health disorders. Not to replace a therapist or a psychologist, this app is when you need to check in with your feelings, and helpful words to calm you. The app costs anywhere from $4.49 a month. MindDoc ranges from $24.99 to $47.99 a year. 

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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What It’s Like Raising a Child With Autism (For Me)

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Raising a Child With Autism

When my son was first diagnosed with Autism, I decided that I would still do ‘normal’ things and advocate for him to live a ‘normal’ life.

Boom. Wrong.

It didn’t take long to learn that having a child with special needs means ‘normal’ goes out the door. Of course, I am only human, and what mother doesn’t want their child to live their best life? I soon realized that I, the parent, had to learn to support my child’s growth at whatever pace he was at the present moment. This means working at his level. And much like a rubber band that springs back after going forward, the progress many parents experience with an autistic child goes back and forth, with triumphs and setbacks. At least, this is what parenting looks like for my family and me.

A Diagnosis is a GameChanger

Having a child on the high spectrum with Autism changes your life. I have always been a fierce mother, but having a child with special needs has made me an advocate, caretaker, and an expert at saying ‘no’ to the bull sh*t that life can throw at you. A special needs parent will know what I mean; there is no time to waste. Sure, when I am at the playground, I admit it hurts my feelings not to be friends with a group of parents like I have with my oldest child. It saddens me to see children ignore my boy, but the truth is, he doesn’t even notice nor care. All he sees is the fun he is about to enjoy at the park. He lives in the moment, enjoying the time hanging out with me. So I put my big girl pants on and shake off my ego, and join in on the fun.

It’s No Party

The CDC describes stimming as “people with an ASD might spend a lot of time repeatedly flapping their arms or rocking from side to side. They might repeatedly turn a light on and off or spin the wheels of a toy car. These types of activities are known as self-stimulation or “stimming.”

In the beginning, when my boy would stim, some parents would look at me with a hint of sadness or embarrassment — but I refuse to participate in a pity party. Yes, my kid outwardly shows what he lacks: speech, social cues, and ‘normal’ behaviors, but what he does show are happiness and love, and if you can’t get on board with that, your loss.

Parenthood can be a bit like high school. There are clicks, and there are the ‘cool’ moms. With my first child, I possessed the need to hang with other mothers. Those first few years of parenthood felt confusing and lonely, trying to navigate where I ‘fit’ in. It’s one reason I segued from the fashion world into parenting; I was figuring this new chapter out and wanted to share what I was learning. Yet with my second son, the hardships of finding a group I could commiserate with never happened. And this is okay. I have found that where both my child and I receive support (and yes, 100 percent, you need help in this journey as much as your child) is with my son’s ‘team.’ He has fantastic teachers, pare (classroom support), therapists, and doctors. For it takes many people and experts to get my son and the family in a healthy state. And if reading this, you think, “well, you’re rich.” I am not. Some aid is from organizations that fit into my budget and have been worth it, and other assistance comes from his school and organizations we stumbled upon when looking for help.

Pure Joy

My son is four and a half. He is still young and living his best life. He will swing at the park during a snowstorm with a smile on his face; he can do circles around many a teenager with his mad puzzle abilities. When he sleeps, he sometimes has traces of cinnamon and butter at the corners of his mouth; and all I can think of is how lucky I am. He is pure joy. Of course, like all parenting challenges, there are days harder than others. Some days leave us both in tears.

His future is one big mystery and frankly scary to wrap my head around, but if anything having a child with special needs has taught me is to cherish each day, and you will see the wonder and joy of life in spades.

Psst…Wanting to connect with moms with special needs kids? Check out Wolf + Friends App: For Parents With Special Needs Children

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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5 Kid Toys That Will Make Great Gifts

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Shopping for toys for little kids can be a bit challenging, because they’re no longer babies, and not quite ready for big kid toys. Each kid’s personality and growth needs to be taken into account. 

Our five picks of little kid toys range from snuggly stuffed toys to tech toys, all offering fun play and growth for growing kids.

Check out our picks for holiday toys for little kids.

Our Generation Doll & Pet Poodle – Malia

This 18-inch doll is a perfect gift for your kid moving past the toddler stage who wants an older doll. Malia has long, wavy brown hair and brown eyes that open and close. And she is accompanied by a pet, a 6-inch furry puppy! Ages 3+, target.com, $25.49

FAO Schwarz Giant 69-inch Dance-On Piano Mat

The perfect gift for kids who love music and dance. This fantastical piano is almost 6 feet in length and perfect for the entire family! Ages 3+, target.com, $39.99

Tinsel Yeti

A plush friendly monster with fuzzy earmuffs, sparkly blue horns, and tinsel strands. Perfect for the toddler ready for a fluffy toy that invites imaginary play, especially as we stay in more this winter. Ages 1+, gund.com, $30


Dimpl Digits

Learning through play is the best entertainment for kids, and this Dimpl Digits toy is perfect for kids to touch, push, and pop while also learning; the squishy silicone bubbles allow little fingers to pres while learning numbers. Ages 1+, fatbraintoys.com, $19.95


VTech® Myla’s Sparkling Friends™ Finn the Fox Toy


This techy toy is perfect for ages 4 and older to play with for hours on end. Finn’s magical necklace can be touched to choose a color, and afterward, a tap of her hair, eyes, and ears produces that color. Finn has 100 fun, magical responses — kids will have fun exploring her moods and reactions. Ages 3-4, buybuybaby, $14.99

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How Moms Are De-stressing Amid COVID-19

Taking some me time is crucial for moms. (Getty Images)

Now that school has started, and moms have worked to get into a rhythm, one of the many things I have heard from my friends is that they are going about their day, yet there are days when we all miss other mothers’ connection. 

There is a sense that something feels a bit adrift. Although experts can share how to manage these moments, it is also helpful knowing how other moms are working through their funks in the time of COVID-19. We asked a few moms to share what brings them some joy, whether it is in self-care, connecting with friends, or just taking in the quiet of the morning.

“My girlfriends and I have made a habit of finding a funny parenting meme or short video and sharing it via text at the start of each week,” says Denise Courter of Fidi Families. “It’s a great way to laugh and remind ourselves that we are all in this together, and though we might not see each other, we are still there for each other.”

Sasadi Odunsi of Brooklyn Bead Collective and ambassador for Every Mom Counts, emphasizes the need for self-care.

“I think the phrase that I keep coming back to is one that was shared with me as a new mom navigating my way, and that is, put on your oxygen mask first,” she says. “As mothers, we are continually giving and taking care, but we need to remember to take care of ourselves as well. If we don’t take time to breathe and refuel, we’ll start to break down and not be able to take care of everyone else as well. 

“Self-care is so different for everyone; for me, it usually means doing some kind of movement, whether it be high intensity for even 15 minutes, or doing something that is just for me and my sanity,” she adds. “It’s also taking time to be creative and sit down to make something. For you, it might be getting into bed earlier than usual with a good book or watching a show.”

Kaity Velez, parenting writer and creative strategizer, agrees.

“After months of being in survival mode, I’ve found that carving out me time is crucial when most of the day is spent doing brain gymnastics between work and parenting,” she says. “For me, that means getting up a little earlier for an early morning walk when the streets are still quiet. There’s no motive other than to move and be with my surroundings.”

This article first appeared in New York Family.

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Expert Tips on Easing Back to Speech Therapy for the School Year

Children who receive speech therapy have new obstacles amid the pandemic. (Getty Images)

Now that we are into the school year, be it remote or blended, we’re finding that some students who have had the steepest regressions in learning are kids with special needs. 

We spoke with Lori Caplan-Colon, a leading speech-language pathologist specializing in pediatric feeding disorder and founder of Montclair Speech Therapy, on how kids and parents can work on their speech learning practices this school year.

Some students with speech delays who have returned or will be returning to school have unfortunately regressed. Any tips on easing them into more in-person services? Be sure to check in with the classroom teachers and remind them that your child will need special care not only in dealing with classroom interactions but also with broader social interactions with the larger student body.

Let the teachers know that lockup and isolation are especially challenging to a child with speech disorders as there are a lot fewer opportunities to practice their learned skills. Explain your concern that a quarantine lifestyle has placed challenges on your child’s ability to practice with peers and caregivers across environments, which is typically a big part of the therapeutic process. Perhaps the teachers can keep an eye out and let you know of any specific issues that arise.

While the teacher may not be able to wholly accommodate your child, at least you have raised the issue with them and made them aware of this back-to-school challenge. Additionally, here we may want to note the reduced ability to successfully communicate with masks. A lot of our little ones are demonstrating frustration when they are not interpreted with this barrier. Additionally, for our lower muscle-tone kids, with increased drooling, we are finding that masks are needed to be frequently changed, causing additional challenges.

As many schools will also be remote, any tips on balancing both? Managing expectations goes a long way towards striking a balance between in-class learning and telelearning, so sticking to a schedule and frequently going over that schedule or calendar with your child will prepare them for what’s expected. Children thrive with routines and schedules. Using child-friendly pictures to signify schedule changes are a favorite. Additionally, using magnetic boards and/or dry erase boards will allow a child to signify when an activity is completed and allows a child to make predictions about what will happen next.

At the same time, chart where your child is having challenges with each scenario (in class and at home), and bring those issues up with your speech therapist so they can focus on exercises that will mitigate the situation.

Find out from your child’s teachers what’s working in class and try to emphasize those skills at home so they carry over to the virtual classroom setting.

For parents who have now found their child has developed stuttering or seen the return of stuttering, what can a parent do to help? First of all, get in touch with a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering and get a proper diagnosis of the condition. They can set up a proper treatment.

Avoid showing displeasure with your child’s relapsed behavior, and instead remind yourself of the skills you practiced when your child first had a stutter. Slow down your own cadence, ask fewer questions, and let the child speak on his or her own terms. Be sure to maintain eye contact with your child, do not try to finish his/her sentences and do not use language like “spit it out or hurry up.” Start rebuilding using the techniques you employed before and if your child is slightly older, remind him/her of the tools in his /her toolbelt to reduce the bumps.

Understand that given the pandemic and the way it’s disrupted all our routines, developing a stutter or seeing a return are not unusual reactions. Empathy first, and then start the search for solutions and mitigation.

Kids who are nonverbal such as kids with autism, have been some of the hardest hit during this pandemic. Is there such a thing as catching up? It’s not so much a case of catching up as it is re-establishing a sense of normalcy. Sticking with a predictable routine will help your child with autism find comfort during a time when disruptions have become a daily occurrence, where you can stick to routines, like bedtimes, meal times, hygiene times, etc.

What can parents do to help their nonverbal children where speech therapy is so vital? One thing that’s very helpful is to lead by example by demonstrating to your nonverbal child how people can communicate with body language and expression. Game playing is especially useful for nonverbal children. Games that promote listening skills and mirroring actions, like Simon Says or Charades, can help re-enforce communication by body language.

The idea is to express the importance of effectively communicating with others around you, even when that communication is accomplished without speech.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com

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How Parents, Kids Can Ease Into The New School Year

Parents, teachers, and students remain concerned about how safe school will be this fall. (Getty Images)

As a working parent, I know that I am lucky to work for a parenting platform. Still, unfortunately, many fellow parents I have spoken to have either had to lessen their workload or do not feel supported in balancing their children’s remote school day as well as their own workload.

According to the Maven Clinic and the Maven commission survey, 57 percent of working parents do not feel fully supported by their employer as they navigate child care decisions for the Fall, and 63 percent are undecided on childcare options for children under 18 years old.

As we enter into a new school year, how can we ease our kids back into full-time or blended remote learning? And how can we as parents ease up on our workload stress when we are also at home watching the kids? We chatted with Mercedes Samudio, a Maven Parenting Coach and Mental Health Provider, on strategies and tips on having a school year in COVID times where balance is a work in progress for all.

Speaking from experience, both my kids have become attached to me; how do I prepare them on going back to school? We become attached to those closest to us during stressful times. Investigate what they are truly feeling about the situation and support them by giving them options on what they can do when they miss you, feel intense emotions, or need support. Sometimes just knowing that, even in separation, they still have a way to connect with you could help them.

Students are doing virtual learning in some capacity; how do we help them in avoiding burnout? Schedule breaks during the day. Make a plan for how the days will look, and keep it for a week or two, then reassess if this current schedule is working. After seeing how they are managing virtual learning, send an email to their teachers letting them know of anything that the teacher or school can do to help ease the overwhelm (like letting them turn the camera off for a few minutes). Overall, observe how they are doing, and do weekly check-ins to make sure that their current schedule isn’t overwhelming them.

With so many parents now working remotely, how can parents shut-off after work? This is a proactive space, meaning that you have to set a schedule and do your best to stick to it. For example, decide when you’re done for the day based on your workload and your scheduled work hours. After those hours, turn off notifications to work apps/email and do your best not to check them until the next workday. Be sure to schedule in breaks as well during the day so that you aren’t overwhelmed. Let your supervisors/team know your schedule, and even set up an away/auto-response message for email/texts/voicemail that lets others know when you are available and when you will respond to messages.

Many parents are on auto-control, how can they take care of themselves when really they are never alone? 
This is the toughest because each family operates differently. However, one way to get a good understanding of how your family works — when does everyone get burned out, when does everyone nap (if they do), when do we eat, etc. I suggest taking a two week period to observe and investigate the rhythms of your family. Then once you have that you can develop a plan for everyone to have downtime, free time, or calm time (or for little ones, nap time) — this will help everyone take some space from their day and help you to also find time to take a break as well. Making a choice to be proactive about caring for yourself is a habit that has to be built up and reassessed. Be gentle with yourself as you’re making these transitions.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com

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Pro Tips For Creating A Homeschool Nook For Remote Learning

Homeschool nooks should have good lighting. (Getty Images)

When the COVID-19 quarantine first started, many parents, thinking remote learning would be temporary, threw together makeshift spaces for the kids. 

Many have since accepted that it’s time to make the kid’s homeschool nook permanent. But how?

Mikayla Keating, an interior designer Decorist, which offers its services at $199 per room, shared these helpful tips.

What is the best way to go about creating this space? Look for a space that is quiet, in a corner, or has good lighting. The nook does not have to be large, but a place where your child can sit down and feel comfortable. 

When is a child-size or adult-size desk appropriate? The desk should be about 8 inches from the seat of the chair to promote good posture. In most cases, the best time to upgrade to a full-size desk is when your child is in their preteens. 

Is the chair choice important? Your chair choice is very important. It needs to be a proper chair since this helps children concentrate and promotes good posture. The chair should allow your child to sit with both feet flat on the floor.

What about lighting? Good lighting is important, as well. Your child will be less likely to strain their eyes and will help them focus. If you are able to, set up your school nook by a window for natural light. 

What are the must-haves for the desk? My must-haves for any desk are a pencil cup, a desk lamp, a magazine file for loose papers, and sticky notes. 

For the full version of this story visit newyorkfamily.com

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How To Avoid Ticks, Prevent Lyme Disease

Ticks are tiny but can cause big medical problems. (Getty Images)

After spending months indoors, many Long Islanders are indulging in day trips to woodsy areas to get some socially distant fresh air — trading coronavirus risks for Lyme disease exposure.

Tickborne disease prevention should be part of every family’s summer routine. Here is a cheat sheet on how to avoid them. 

Since ticks are extremely sensitive to heat, one is most likely to encounter them in shady rather than sunny areas. Since ticks do not fly or hop about, they are brushed on to clothing when people walk through tall grass, says Phillip J. Baker, Ph.D., executive director of the American Lyme Disease Foundation.

DEET is the recommended product for use on skin, though it shouldn’t be applied under clothes. When used as directed, it’s both effective and safe on skin and clothes. Sprays containing permethrin, such as Repel, are for clothing. Although DEET is not harmful when applied to the skin, heavy sweating may affect how long it lasts, according to consumerreports.org. When used on clothing, permethrin binds tenaciously to fiber and will withstand several wash/dry cycles. 

“One does not have to spray outdoor clothing daily,” Dr. Baker says. “There are several organic insect repellents on the market. Some are effective, and others are not. I usually use DEET because I know it works and is safe.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends checking all clothing for attached ticks. Remove any clothing with ticks on it and throw it in the dryer on a high setting.Then do a body check on yourself as well as your children. The CDC recommends showering within two hours of coming indoors to wash away any unattached ticks.

To remove a tick, use sharp-tip tweezers, get as close to the skin as possible, and grasp the tick. Pull the tick straight out. Either “squish” the tick in a tissue and then flush it down the toilet, or put the tick in a vial of alcohol that will kill it, says Dr. Baker.

The Mayo Clinic states that symptoms of Lyme disease can vary, with the most distinct being a rash that usually surrounds a bite. When a rash starts to appear, which can be from three to 30 days, it will look a bit like a bull’s eye. Other symptoms can be fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, neck stiffness, and swollen lymph nodes.

This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com

Related Story: Seasonal Uptick in Lyme Disease Concerns on Long Island

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