Parents May 2021

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editor’s note

Falling Back in Love With Home ON MOST DAYS, I am filled with awe and gratitude for my home. I look down at my boys’ action figures and art supplies, which can be found literally anywhere I rest my eyes, and think, “Happy kids live here.” I sink into the stained, sagging couch, and my boys flop on top of me as if I’m their personal mattress. “I love this couch,” I say to myself. And then there are days like last Tuesday. Despite our many months of precautions, the virus had come for us, and we were in full-blown quarantine. I hadn’t been outside in over a week. Exhausted, coughing, and stressed, I looked around at the mess of work, school papers, mail, toys, and snack wrappers, and failed to see a…

your guide to making the days easier and the journey sweeter

Put on a Happy Face Attention dads, grandpeeps, cool aunts and uncles: If the kids want to draw their mom a picture for Mother’s Day, suggest that they try it with flowers this year. Start by letting them go wild gathering a selection of petals, leaves, and grasses outdoors—or just offer them snippets from an almost-faded bouquet. Then take inspiration from designer Justina Blakeney’s @FaceTheFoliage Instagram feed, which is full of portraits made of real blooms. (For more of Blakeney’s inventive style, flip to page 91.) Double-dare the kids to get creative mapping out features (stems and thin leaves are great for making a nose and face structure, but options are limitless), and use a little school glue to adhere the clippings to a piece of paper. You’ve got a Water…

michelle obama

WHILE THE world keeps changing, there remains a constant: kids who won’t touch their vegetables with a 10-foot fork. Michelle Obama, who championed healthy foods as First Lady, is still on a mission to change picky-eater hearts and minds. Her latest project is Waffles + Mochi, a sort of Muppets-meets-cooking-show kids’ series on Netflix from Higher Ground, the production team she and former President Barack Obama founded. Michelle stars as a supermarket owner alongside the titular puppets, two freezer-aisle foods that dream of learning how to cook. They meet big-name chefs like Samin Nosrat and José Andrés, who teach them how to prepare foods from around the world. A stream of celebrity cameos (Jack Black, Common, Rashida Jones) keeps things entertaining, even for the grown-ups. We asked about her own…

your family’s moving. now what?

HELP THEM THRIVE IN EVERY WAY WHEN MY daughter, Hannah, was 2 years old, we moved across country from Boston to Indiana for a job. It was a huge upheaval for our sensitive toddler—she was leaving her day-care buddies, her favorite playground, and Grandma. But Hannah seemed cheery as she affixed pony stickers to the big moving boxes that clogged our way-beyond-outgrown apartment. She loved to look at photos of our new house with—parental hard sell here—a big backyard to play in! On moving-in day, however, I had barely unpacked the microwave when Hannah’s worries began. “Where’s Nancy?” she demanded over and over. Her beloved music teacher from her old day care was clearly a symbol for all she’d left behind. And she wasn’t keen on her “big girl” bedroom, down a…

raise a strong kid (literally)

KEEP IT LIGHT. Play some music and focus on fun, not turning your kid into a gym rat. Have them do moves that target the major muscle groups: lower body (squats), upper body (push-ups), and core (crunches). If these moves are too difficult, modify them; you can move push-ups from the floor to against a wall, says Avery D. Faigenbaum, Ed.D., professor of pediatric exercise science at The College of New Jersey, in Ewing, and a lead author of the AAP’s new policy. Up the fun with quirky new names: Squats become “frog jumps” and planks turn into “crocodile stands.” Once your child gets the hang of those, they can use light weights, like resistance bands or 1- or 2-pound dumbbells. Aim for one or two sets of eight to 12…

get your family garden on

BECKONING the kids outdoors (and away from their screens) can be as simple as asking them to pick a flower or gather some fruit. “We grow berries for our smoothies and cut chives to sauté into an omelet,” says father of three Donald Pell, a landscape designer who owns Donald Pell Gardens, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. “It gets the kids excited, and I can see that they feel happy out in ‘their’ garden.” Because I’m a garden designer who often reports on gardening trends, families ask me how they should start their own green patch. I tell them to start prepping now, in the springtime, for a lush garden by midsummer. Getting things rolling is as easy as scoping out a sunny spot: Most plants thrive with at least six hours of direct…