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Parenting

Mom causes debate after sharing the surprising 'gift' she gives for every kid's party

Sarah Clarke swears that her idea saves on "mental load." But not everyone thinks it's very considerate.

gift ideas for kids, kids party ideas, parenting
Representative image from Canva

Has minimalism gone too far?

Having kids means not only prepping and planning their own birthday party, but making sure you don’t show up empty-handed to the plethora of other kid’s parties.

In a now-viral Instagram post, UK-based mom Sarah Clarke explains her trick that she does for every kids party to “save on mental load.” Though Clarke swears by it, not everyone agrees.

“I get the same thing every time, no matter how old they are, no matter if they’re a boy or a girl,” Clarke said in the clip, clarifying that the gift is not a traditional present, but a gift certificate to a local coffee shop, where the kid can have a “hot chocolate or cake” with their parents.


“They can have a little date, and it’s paid for, and it means I don’t have to think of something,” she added.

“And if the mom or dad who gets the present wants to go on their own, they’re more than welcome to,” she quipped.

The video, which has been seen over 4 million times, wasn’t met with 100% positive feedback. Some felt like the idea wasn’t completely considerate, if not a little lazy.

“If someone did this I would be annoyed, it's like no thought or effort to know what someone likes,” one person wrote.

"I like this idea but for old enough kids. I think my 3 and 4 years old would not understand and be very disappointed (I would love it as a parent! But I’m not the recipient)," another said.

Others shared how they followed a similar strategy but more universal gift cards.

“I just put £10 in a card (£5 if it's a tight month.) That way they can get something they want,” someone shared.

Others acknowledged that this type of gift giving could be seen as less materialistic and more focused on quality time.

“This is a great idea. How many more toys and tablets do your kids need? I gift my nieces and nephews a new book and $20,” one person commented.

Another echoed, “This is such a good idea! I think in this day and age kids have an overwhelming amount of toys and presents. But the gift of a parent’s presence. Genius!!”

Perhaps this is one of those situations where everyone's a little bit right. On the one hand, we have to let kids be kids, which means not forcing them to partake in what we’d prefer as adults. After all, they’re only that age for so long. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for swapping more stuff out for actual experiences and creating core memories.

Clarke’s video, whether you agree with her particular perspective or not, does highlight a collective mindset shift on how we view what gift-giving actually is. In a world suffering from inflation and needless waste combined with social interaction becoming harder to cultivate, it’s no wonder why we are starting to place more value on the little things. On simplification. Maybe in trying to find balance, we make a few missteps. But it’s still clearly what we’re all striving for.

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Music’s biggest night took place Sunday, February 4 with the 66th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Now, fans have the opportunity to take home a piece of the famed event.

Longtime GRAMMY Awards partner Mastercard is using this year’s campaign to shine a light on the environment and the Priceless Planet Coalition (PPC), a forest restoration program with the goal of restoring 100 million trees. Music fans are 1.5 times more likely to take action to help the environment, making the GRAMMY Awards the perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

“Through our GRAMMY Awards campaign, we’ve created an opportunity for our brand, our partners and consumers to come together over shared values, to participate during a moment when we can celebrate our passion for music and our commitment to make meaningful investments to preserve the environment,” says Rustom Dastoor, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications, North America at Mastercard.

The campaign kicked off with an inspired self-guided multi-sensory tour at the GRAMMY House presented by Mastercard, where people journeyed through their passion of music and educational experience about Mastercard’s longstanding commitment to tree restoration. Then, this year’s most-nominated GRAMMY artist and a passionate voice for the environment, SZA, led the charge with the debut performance of her new song, Saturn.

Mastercard’s partners are also joining the mission by encouraging people all over the country to participate; Lyft and Sirius XM are both offering ways for consumers to get involved in the Priceless Planet Coalition. To learn more about how you can support these efforts, visit mastercard.com/forceofnature.

While fashion is always a highlight of any GRAMMY Awards event, SZA’s outfit worn during her performance of Saturn was designed to make a statement; made of tree seeds to help spread awareness. Fans can even comment ‘🌱’ and tag a friend on Mastercard’s designated post of SZA’s GRAMMY House performance for a chance to win a tree seed from the performance outfit*.

“SZA has a personal passion for sustainability – not just in forest restoration but in the clothes she wears and the platforms and partners she aligns herself with. It was important to us to partner with someone who is not only showing up big at the GRAMMY Awards – as the most GRAMMY-nominated artist this year – but also showing up big for the environment,” says Dastoor.

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Kampus Production/Canva

How often do you change your sheets?

If you were to ask a random group of people, "How often do you wash your sheets?" you'd likely get drastically different answers. There are the "Every single Sunday without fail" folks, the "Who on Earth washes their sheets weekly?!?" people and everyone in between.

According to a survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Mattress Advisor, the average time between sheet changings or washings in the U.S. is 24 days—or every 3 1/2 weeks, approximately. The same survey revealed that 35 days is the average interval at which unwashed sheets are "gross."

Some of you are cringing at those stats while others are thinking, "That sounds about right." But how often should you wash your sheets, according to experts?

Hint: It's a lot more frequent than 24 days.

While there is no definitive number of days or weeks, most experts recommend swapping out used sheets for clean ones every week or two.

Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD told Cleveland Clinic that people should wash their sheets at least every two weeks, but probably more often if you have pets, live in a hot climate, sweat a lot, are recovering from illness, have allergies or asthma or if you sleep naked.

We shed dead skin all the time, and friction helps those dead skin cells slough off, so imagine what's happening every time you roll over and your skin rubs on the sheets. It's normal to sweat in your sleep, too, so that's also getting on your sheets. And then there's dander and dust mites and dirt that we carry around on us just from living in the world, all combining to make for pretty dirty sheets in a fairly short period of time, even if they look "clean."

Maybe if you shower before bed and always wear clean pajamas you could get by with a two-week sheet swap cycle, but weekly sheet cleaning seems to be the general consensus among the experts. The New York Times consulted five books about laundry and cleaning habits, and once a week was what they all recommend.

Sorry, once-a-monthers. You may want to step up your sheet game a bit.

What about the rest of your bedding? Blankets and comforters and whatnot?

Sleep.com recommends washing your duvet cover once a week, but this depends on whether you use a top sheet. Somewhere between the Gen X and Millennial eras, young folks stopped being about the top sheet life, just using their duvet with no top sheet. If that's you, wash that baby once a week. If you do use a top sheet, you can go a couple weeks longer on the duvet cover.

For blankets and comforters and duvet inserts, Sleep.com says every 3 months. And for decorative blankets and quilts that you don't really use, once a year washing will suffice.

What about pillows? Pillowcases should go in with the weekly sheet washing, but pillows themselves should be washed every 3 to 6 months. Washing pillows can be a pain, and if you don't do it right, you can end up with a lumpy pillow, but it's a good idea because between your sweat, saliva and skin cells, pillows can start harboring bacteria.

Finally, how about the mattress itself? Home influencers on TikTok can often be seen stripping their beds, sprinkling their mattress with baking soda, brushing it into the mattress fibers and then vacuuming it all out. Architectural Digest says the longer you leave baking soda on the mattress, the better—at least a few hours, but preferably overnight. Some people add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda for some extra yummy smell.

If that all sounds like way too much work, maybe just start with the sheets. Pick a day of the week and make it your sheet washing day. You might find that climbing into a clean, fresh set of sheets more often is a nice way to feel pampered without a whole lot of effort.

Pop Culture

LeVar Burton gives cheeky 'Reading Rainbow' segment for banned books

The segment, shown on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," featured banned titles like "Charlottes Web" and "Harriet the Spy."

Super Festivals/Wikipedia, Wikipedia

You've never seen a "Reading Rainbow" episode quite like this

“Reading Rainbow” might have had its last episode in 2006, but LeVar Burton hasn’t stopped being a book advocate.

The actor and beloved host has spoken out against the unprecedented levels of books banned in schools throughout the country—acting as executive producer do the 2023 documentary “The Right to Read,” and has partnered with the nonprofit MoveOn.org to create a limited-edition T-shirt that reads “LeVar Burton Says Read Banned Books.”

And recently on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Burton brought attention to the subject by resurrecting the popular kids show. Only this is unlike any “Reading Rainbow” segment you’ve seen before.

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Education

A boy told his teacher she can't understand him because she's white. Her response is on point.

'Be the teacher America's children of color deserve, because we, the teachers, are responsible for instilling empathy and understanding in the hearts of all kids. We are responsible for the future of this country.'

Photo by John Pike. Used with permission.

Emily E. Smith is no ordinary teacher.



Fifth-grade teacher Emily E. Smith is not your ordinary teacher.

She founded The Hive Society — a classroom that's all about inspiring children to learn more about their world ... and themselves — by interacting with literature and current events. Students watch TED talks, read Rolling Stone, and analyze infographics. She even has a long-distance running club to encourage students to take care of their minds and bodies.

Smith is such an awesome teacher, in fact, that she recently received the 2015 Donald H. Graves Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing.

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Education

Lessons we should have learned from the liberation of Auschwitz and other Nazi camps

It's been more than 75 years since the last prisoners were freed from Auschwitz. The farther we get from that chapter, the more important it is to focus on the lessons it taught us, lest we ignore the signs of history repeating itself.

From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

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Photo by 傅甬 华 on Unsplash

Cats are far more badass than we give them credit for.

Cats have a reputation for being aloof and standoffish, like they're better than everyone and simply can't be bothered. Those of us who have cats know they're not always like that … but yes, they're sometimes like that. They can be sweet and affectionate, but they want affection on their terms, they want to eat and play and sleep on their own clock, and we puny, inferior humans have little say in the matter.

There's a reason why we have obedience schools for dogs and not for cats. Maine coon or Bengal, Savannah or Siamese, ragdoll or sphynx, domestic cats of all breeds are largely untrainable little punks who lure us into loving them by blessing us with the honor of stroking their fur and hearing them purr.

But perhaps we assume too much when we think cats are full of themselves for no good reason. Maybe they are actually somewhat justified in their snootiness. Maybe they really, truly are superior to pretty much every other creature on Earth and that's why they act like it.

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Sharon Johnson shares a common dilemma couples face when one partner struggles with depression.

Dealing with a mental illness is hard. Loving someone who is dealing with a mental illness is also hard. When you're the person struggling, you need support from your loved ones, but you may not be able to verbalize what you need exactly, especially in the moment. And when you're a loved one who wants to provide that support, you can feel lost and helpless trying to figure out what actually helps.

This is the dilemma TikTok creator Sharon Johnson (@Sharon.a.life) highlights in a viral video explaining how she and her husband passed that impasse.

Johnson starts by acting out a conversation she and her husband often have she's in a depressive episode. She says she's sad and doesn't know why. Her husband asks what she needs, and she says he could be more supportive. He asks how he can be more supportive. In her head, she thinks, "I have about a thousand ways that I think you could be more supportive, but they're all tiny and little and insignificant, and it feels weird to have the conversation and tell you a thousand things that you could do, so instead I'm just gonna continue being sad and we'll both be frustrated."

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