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Building a Little Citizen's Library: 5 Books to Inspire Future Voters

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Building a Little Citizen's Library: 5 Books to Inspire Future Voters

The midterm elections are on Tuesday, November 6th. At Mindr, we plan on taking our future voters with us to show them the importance of exercising our right to choose our lawmakers. To get them ready to head to the polls, we asked #MINDRMAMA and co-owner of Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab Maggie Pouncey for some inspirational books to read to these future civic changemakers. 

At a time when our nation feels particularly divided, when even grown-ups are unsure how to explain the latest news cycle, how can we raise engaged, empowered, civic-minded children, who are well-equipped to face the challenges ahead? One of our favorite ways is through vivid, hopeful and inspiring stories. Lately, it’s been refreshing to see so many excellent children’s books by talented makers filling the shelves of our bookshop in Brooklyn: books that feature children of all races, religions, and identities; books that remind us our country has seen stark divisions before and emerged both stronger, and gentler; and books that spark a committed spirit of advocacy. We can’t predict the future of politics, but we can raise kids who care and don’t give up. Here is a great collection of books for all ages to read as a family, sure to make your children super stoked and proud to stand beside you as you vote on November 6.

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Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights, By Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jared Andrew Schorr, $17.99

A picture book for the littlest activists, this is also an alphabet book, showing kids ways to lend their voices to the causes they believe in, from A - “Assemble. Take action. Create Allies” - to Z - "Be zealous.” Inviting, cut paper illustrations depict children of all ethnicities standing up for things they care about. V is for “Vote. Volunteer. Keep vigil. Be nonviolent.” The spread shows a young black boy who has gone with an older relative to the voting booth, an excellent opportunity to set the stage for your family’s own trip to the polls.

Ages: 3 and up

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What Can a Citizen Do? By Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris, $17.99

A gently rhyming text in this picture book - a second collaboration between Eggers and Harris (see also their excellent Her Right Foot) - asks and answers the questions “What in the world can a citizen do? Who can a citizen be?” Playful, witty illustrations include details kids will love to discover during read-alouds: when some children put up a sign that reads, “No Trumpets,” others protest, and on the following spread the sign has been amended to, “Ok, Trumpets.” The story emphasizes that it is actions of helpfulness and community mindedness that a citizen make.

Ages: 5 and up

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Start Now! You Can Make a Difference, By Chelsea Clinton, $16.99

A new illustrated how-to guide for the next generation, covering questions of how to be a good citizen from the personal (why we should all wash our hands) to the global (how to understand and take action against climate change). Friendly, straightforward, and engaging, author Chelsea Clinton tackles large issues in relatable, informative ways. As she writes, “You may not be old enough yet to vote or to volunteer - but you are definitely the right age to raise your voice about important issues you care about, at home, in your school, in your community and in our world.” The message is clear - no matter how old you are, the time to start making the world a better place is right now.

Ages: 7 and up (signed copies currently available from Stories)

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We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, Edited by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson, $18.99

This is a stirring, heartfelt and intensely personal illustrated treasury featuring an incredible collection of diverse voices in children’s literature, from Jacqueline Woodson to Ellen Oh, Jason Reynolds to Hena Khan, Javaka Steptoe to Ekua Holmes. Many of the poems and letters and essays are addressed directly to the audience, specifically children of color. This book offers hope, provides context for past struggles, and teaches kindness, and courage.

Ages: 8 and up

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This is Our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father, By Khizr Khan, $16.99

Khizr Khan addresses a middle-grade audience with passion and knowledge, exploring the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence (the text of both documents are printed in their entirety in this book). Speaking both personally (as an immigrant from Pakistan and a father), and as an expert (he is a lawyer who has focused on civil rights and veterans’ rights) he shows why the work of our founding fathers should inspire us, and why “We the people” (which includes young people) must stand up for the freedoms upon which our nation was built.

Ages: 10 and up

Maggie Pouncey is the co-founder and co-owner of Stories Bookshop + Storytelling Lab, and the author of the novel, Perfect Reader, and the forthcoming picture book, The Fort on the Moon. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young sons.

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How we share the load at home: Part I

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How we share the load at home: Part I

Figuring out the division of labor at home is never easy. From those very first days when we nervously bring our fresh little human home, there are seemingly infinite decisions to make about who does what, when, and how often. We partnered with our friends at Bumkins to interview three full-time working #MINDRMAMAs about how duties are shared in their household (and got some scrumptious snaps of their families using the Bumkins gear that can help get them through the day.) First up in this three-part series is Jessica Wey, a creative director in a Manhattan advertising firm.

Talk us through your typical weekday, at home and at work.

My husband, Jon, and I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with our adorable almost 2 year-old girl, Max. I work as a creative director in a Manhattan advertising firm, and Jon is an attorney with a home office. 

  Jessica’s daughter Max is pictured with Bumkins’    Junior Bib    in Watercolor,    Silicone First Feeding Set    in Marble, and    Silicone Grip Dish    in Marble.

Jessica’s daughter Max is pictured with Bumkins’ Junior Bib in Watercolor, Silicone First Feeding Set in Marble, and Silicone Grip Dish in Marble.

Our weekday is pretty typical of most city-dwellers. We wake up, pull together a quick breakfast, and get ourselves ready for the day. (Recently, Max has finally grown enough hair to be gathered into some semblance of pigtails, which is rather exciting!) After we’re ready, we set off toward our daytime destinations. Twice a week, Max gets dropped off at her friend’s place for their nanny share, and three times a week the share is hosted at our place. 

I commute to the city for the workday, which is filled with meetings and calls, and often cross-country travel. Fortunately, I can define my hours such that if I leave early (before 6 pm) I have time to get home, eat dinner, give Max her bath, put her to bed, and then log back on afterward to wrap things up before turning in for the night. 

I wish I could better routinize exercise into my typical weekday. My husband and I have been strategizing on becoming early bedtime/early risers to potentially incorporate runs or yoga in the morning.

What does the division of labor look like in your home?

My husband and I are very conscious of sharing the burden. Since he has a more flexible work schedule, he takes care of childcare drop-off, pick-ups, and meal prep/dishes. I’m typically more involved with managing bills, household purchases, and general cleaning. I weirdly love doing laundry and find it therapeutic.

Did you actively decide on this balance, or did it just kind of happen that way?

The division of labor naturally fell into place as I returned to work. While my work has some flexibility, I have a significant commute, which is why Jon takes on the lion’s share of time-sensitive childcare responsibilities (pick-ups, drop-offs, meal prep). Since I am more available in the evening, I take care of Max’s bath time and bedtime routine.   

Is there anything you think could work better about how you share the load at home, and how do you think you could go about achieving that shift?

For the moment we are doing OK, but we are expecting another baby girl in January! Our lives will be totally upended for as we figure out how to temporarily restructure our time with less sleep. We do want to tweak our schedule so Jon can devote more continuous time to his work; my home presence during maternity leave will provide an opportunity for us to try rebalancing the load and experiment with what works.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for reducing the workload at home?

Family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, you name it. If you have the privilege to have family in proximity, that is! Parenting with just one other person on your team is tough. Whether it’s family, friends, childcare providers, etc, build up your network of support. Raising children is a collective effort and it is reassuring when you’ve got a loving team at the ready.

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The Go Guide: Ten tips for traveling with tots in tow

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The Go Guide: Ten tips for traveling with tots in tow

Summer's winding down and school's about to begin (cue collective sigh of relief.) If you're like us, you may be squeezing in one last trip before Labor Day. To get you ready for a relaxing and stress-free journey, we've teamed up with our friends at Britax to bring you our top 10 tips for traveling with tots in tow. So if you are taking a long road trip or introducing your baby to the joys of air travel, we’ve got you covered with our guide for winning at summer and fall travel.

Before You Leave: 

  • Minimize what you pack. Babies and kids need lots of stuff - but they may not need all their stuff when you are on vacation. Bring essentials, but hauling that second diaper bag or extra-large suitcase will only weigh you down when trying to catch a cab from the airport. If you could use some training in the packing department, check out How to Pack by NYC mama Hitha Palepu.
  • Get the timing right. When buying plane tickets, take a moment to really think about the best time to fly with your kids. Personally, we like flying early in the morning - that way, when you're ready to leave the house, you just lift your tots out of their crib, keep them in PJs, and cross your fingers that they sleep on the way to the airport or even (hallelujah!) on the plane. Flights are less likely to have delays first thing in the morning and bonus: you get to enjoy a full first day wherever you land.
  • Be realistic with your plans. It's easy to want to plan an ambitious schedule hitting all the hot spots on your bucket list, but no one will enjoy seeing the sites if everyone is jet-lagged or overtired. Give yourself enough time to adjust to new time zones and work in time at playgrounds to let your little guy/gal run out their energy before naps. Let older children help plan activities. They will be just as excited as you are learning about your destination and picking out things to do.

Road Tripping with Your Littles

  • Bribery is everything. For a long car (or plane) ride, pack special activities/toys/snacks and pull out something new every hour to surprise your kids. Bonus entertainment points: wrap the surprises.
  • Plan your pit stops. For the car rides, plan bathroom breaks/leg stretches around parks, playgrounds or restaurants with play areas where you can have a picnic or run around a bit. Directories of kid-friendly locations like Mommy Nearest are a great resource for this.
  • Safety first. You want to make sure your child is in a super safe and comfy car seat. We love the the Britax Emblem convertible seat not just because of its double impact protection, but because it is comfortable enough that your kid wants to nap in it, and light enough that you can easily make that transition from car, plane, cab etc. without breaking your back. Oh and did we mention it’s super easy to install?

Flying High with Kiddos

 The Britax Car Seat Travel Cart literally turns your car seat into a stroller.

The Britax Car Seat Travel Cart literally turns your car seat into a stroller.

  • Be mobile. An easy to fold, lightweight umbrella stroller is a must when traveling. We are obsessed with the Britax B-Mobile stroller. You can fold it with one hand, so your other hand is free to wrestle the kid that's tantruming their way through airport security. You then sling it over your shoulder like a tote bag to carry it. It's also got a great can recline to let your child nap on the go. 
  • Get rollin. If you're not traveling with a stroller, a travel cart is a convenient alternative for maneuvering through airports. We love the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart. It's like a little shopping trolley, but your car seat attaches to it with the same safety latches you use to hook the seat into your car. Your little ones are already used to their cozy car seat and they can snooze in it as you cruise to your gate. 
  • Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect. As soon as you get on the plane, wipe down everything your child may be able to reach with an antibacterial wipe. This includes the front and back of the seat tray, the windows and seat belt. It may seem a bit extreme, but planes are Petri dishes and this way you can relax when your child gets handsy with the furniture in the middle of the flight. (We've received flight attendant high fives while doing this.) Also, keep your kids' shoes on, just trust us.
  • Don't forget to drink on the descent. Most of us know to nurse or feed a baby a bottle right as you take off, but air pressure also changes on the descent, which can bother little ears. Make sure you have enough milk or water to give to your child about 30-45 minutes before landing. And wait to start feeding until you are actually taking off - you don't want to start too early and then run out as you are sitting on the runway.

No matter what - don't psych yourself out. If you love to travel, want to show your children the world or just get out of town for a weekend, just do it. Pretty soon they'll have the travel bug too.

Britax is a Mindr sponsor, and we're so grateful for their support. All of the Britax products included in this article have been independently tried and tested by #MINDRMAMAs. We recommend them because they're great, and we get no kick-backs if you buy. We're all about giving you the best information to make parent life that little bit easier, and we love finding like-minded companies that are working hard to do the same.

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