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The year’s almost over—what was your favorite part? Have your kids ask themselves that question and others with this easy DIY time capsule. Of course, while building a time capsule makes a fun New Year’s Eve craft project, it can be done any time of year. Give your kids the gift of nostalgia! Read on for the simple instructions.

What you’ll need:

Two 16 oz plastic soda bottles
Box cutter or craft knife (XActo knife)
Clear packing tape
Paper, pens, paint, ticket stubs, knickknacks, etc. to help fill your time capsule with memories


Step One: Cut your “capsule”
Remove the labels from two clear plastic soda bottles. Then, using a box cutter or X-ACTO knife, (parents!) cut the bottles where the flat side meets the sloped top as shown.


Step Two: Cut notches in one of the bottles
Use scissors to cut four notches in the rim of ONE of the bottles. This will make it easier to squeeze one bottle into into the other to make the capsule shape.


Step Three: Now, freeze time!
Now that the capsule is prepped, it’s time to find ways to fill it. Talk to your kids about their favorite moments from the year — then see if you can find small items or photos to represent those moments. Some recommendations: Have your little memory-makers put their handprints on paper; it’s a fun way for them to see how they (and their hands) grow from year to year. Also: A simple questionnaire is a must for recording your kids’ current faves. Not sure what questions to ask? Try this easy printable from Uncommon Designs Online.

You could also have your kids write a letter to their future selves, give advice to their future selves, or make a hypothesis as to what their future selves will be doing in exactly one year (or whenever you’ve decided to open your time capsule). Have fun with it!


Step Four: Gather all your materials
Make sure you’ll have enough space to fit all your year-end goodies into your capsule. Our capsule included: Handprints of all three kids; a 2016 questionnaire; four pages of thumbnail-sized photos of our year; some Pokemon cards and figures; and two self portraits.

Step Five: Pack it up!
Roll up your papers and photos and slide it into one end of the capsule. Insert any small items in the middle. Then, close the capsule by sliding the two bottles together (the notched side should squeeze right into the other side). Seal your capsule with clear packing tape.

Step Six: Label and decorate
Label your time capsule with the year and the appropriate instructions as to when the capsule can be opened.

time-capsule-on-shelfStep Seven: Hide (or bury) it somewhere until next year
Want to bury your time capsule? Go for it! As long as your capsule is completely sealed, it should last underground for a year or two without a problem. Not up for digging, or don’t have the proper yard for burying? Place your time capsule high on a shelf or drawer, out of reach of prying hands. Open it next year… in five years… whenever you’re ready for some instant nostalgia.

Happy New Year!

— All copy and photos by Melissa Heckscher


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*This post was inspired by a similar Time Capsule project at Our Peaceful Planet

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Does what you do in the early months affect all aspects of your pregnancy? A new study found that pregnant women who exercise more during the first trimester may have a lower risk of developing gestational diabetes. The analysis found that lower risk was associated with at least 38 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day which is more than current recommendations of at least 30 minutes a day five days a week.

Pregnancy exercise

The new study was led by Samantha Ehrlich, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and adjunct investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. 

Gestational diabetes refers to diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. It can pose serious health problems including pregnancy and delivery complications as well as increased future risk for diabetes in both mother and child.

Ehrlich said, “We know that exercise is safe and beneficial for healthy pregnant women. These results show that exercise is helpful in avoiding gestational diabetes, though you might need to do a little bit more than currently recommended to enjoy that benefit.”

The observational study was based on women’s self-reported levels of exercise during their first trimester of pregnancy. It found that exercising at least 38 minutes per day lowered the risk of gestational diabetes by 2.1 cases per 100 women and the risk of abnormal blood sugar by 4.8 cases per 100 women.

“We know that six to 10 women per 100 get gestational diabetes,” Ehrlich said. “If being more active could reduce that by two women per 100, that’s a clear benefit.”

The study, published Dec. 21 in the journal Diabetes Care, analyzes data collected for the Pregnancy Environment and Lifestyle Study (PETALS), a longitudinal study that included a physical activity questionnaire from 2,246 pregnant members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California. The women in the study were racially and ethnically diverse and of a wide range of pre-pregnancy weight classifications.

—Jennifer Swartvagher

Featured photo: from Pexels

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Mother’s Day will be here before you know it, so it’s the perfect time to help your kiddos make a craft to show Mom how much they love her. We’ve rounded up a list of easy paper crafts that kids can make themselves, from tissue paper flowers to patterned notebooks. Read on for some serious crafting inspiration.

Make and Takes

1. A Tasteful Topiary

Grab some dried flowers and put together this sweet card from Make and Takes. Finish it off with white glue and a little drawing. To get all the details on this DIY, click here.


2. Patterned Notebook

How cool is this personalized notebook from Sisoo?! Grab a simple notebook and origami paper, and you’ll have the perfect gift ready in no time. Best of all, it’s something Mom will happily use. To get the details on how it’s done, click here.

Lil’ Luna

3. Mother’s Day Questionnaire

If you don’t have time to make an elaborate craft, this cute questionnaire from Lil’ Luna will fit the bill. Your little one can fill out facts about Mom, and then they can draw and color a one-of-a-kind picture of her. To get the printable, click here.

Hello, Wonderful

4. Mother’s Day Book

This kid-made book from Hello, Wonderful is guaranteed to melt Mom’s heart. The printable template includes prompts for them to write their favorite things about their mom. Get all the details by clicking here.

Homemade Ginger

5. Easy Silhouette

Professional silhouettes can be expensive, but you can actually DIY one that looks just as good, thanks to Homemade Ginger. You’ll be surprised by how easy it is—click here to get the step-by-step instructions.

Hello, Wonderful

6. Flower Art

We’re obsessed with this colorful and creative idea from Hello, Wonderful. Just head outside and collect spring flowers and foliage, then use them to decorate a special portrait of Mom. To get the details, click here.

B-Inspired Mama

7. Paper Flower Bowl

We love this craft idea from B-Inspired Mama—it’s a gift that can be put to good use as a candy bowl or a trinket holder. Find out how it’s made and print out the colorful flowers by clicking here.

The Bird Feed NYC

8. Printable Card

If you’re not the crafty type, that doesn’t mean you can’t still surprise Mom. Just print out The Bird Feed NYC’s cute card template, then let the tots fill it in with all the things they love about their mom. Grab the printable by clicking here.

Kids Craft Room

9. Sequin Paper Plate Heart Suncatchers

Break out the paper plates to make these cute suncatchers from Kids Craft Room. With a bit of paint and some sparkles, your little artists will make a keepsake that will melt Mom’s heart. Click here to get the instructions.

The Best Ideas for Kids

10. Butterfly Handprint Cards

Take inspiration from The Best Ideas for Kids to transform your kiddo’s handprint into a pretty butterfly card. They’re super easy to make with construction paper and a little glue. To get the instructions (plus a cute poem to include with the card!), click here.

Chica Circle

11. Best Mom Ever Medals

Remind Mom she’s the best with these adorable medals from Chica Circle. You’ll have these done in no time thanks to the handy printable. Click here to get the instructions and the templates (there’s a template for the Best Grandma Ever too).

In the Playroom

12. Teacup Cards

If Mom is a tea drinker, she’ll love getting a fun card inspired by In the Playroom. Made with egg cartons, pipe cleaners and her favorite tea bag, this card is sure to be a hit. Click here to get all the details.

The Art of Simple

13. Crepe Paper Flowers

Break out the crepe papers to make a bouquet of colorful flowers like this one from The Art of Simple. You can use pipe cleaners instead of floral wire to make it easy for the kids to take over. Click here to see the step-by-step instructions.

Fun Littles

14. Tulip Painting

Try out Fun Littles’ cool and colorful take on painting for Mom. Three-pronged forks become painting utensils, so you’ll have a pretty tulip garden in no time. Get the details by clicking here.


15. Woven Hearts

Little ones will love making woven paper hearts like this one from Maya*Made. You can experiment with different types of material, from vintage maps to newspapers to burlap. To get all the details, click here.

Buggy and Buddy

16. Tissue Paper Flower Card

For a last-minute gift, we love this easy idea from Buggy and Buddy. Kids can decorate a card with tissue paper flowers, then fill in the inside with drawings or notes for Mom. Click here to get the instructions and free printable.

—Susie Foresman

Feature photo: Pexels



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Our new series, Family Tales, is an honest peek into the daily lives of families across the country who are on this crazy ride we call parenthood! From divulging childcare costs to breaking down family finances to managing bedtime routines with multiple kids, we tap into the Red Tricycle army of parents to find out how they’re making it work. This series is a judgment-free zone.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.

 I’m a Single Mom on a 30k Salary with Almost No Support from My Ex: Here’s How I Make It Work.


My age and occupation: 31, childcare provider
My partner’s age and occupation: N/A
Annual household income: $30,000
City: Bothell, Washington
Childcare costs per year: $2,400
How we found our childcare: I work there
Our kid(s) ages: 8 and 7

photo: Josh Willink via Pexels

I’m a single mom without much support from my ex (he started paying child support this past summer after six years), and I run the childcare program at my kids’ school. I get a discount, so not having to budget full-price child care into my salary means I have enough money left over every month to pay for the activities my kids enjoy: piano, cheer, gymnastics and dance. Our life is a little frantic at times, but as a single mother, I feel lucky to be close enough to my kids to have an input on their education, even if the days are long. Here’s how I make it work as a single mom of two without much support from a partner:

Morning: I’m the first one up, and it’s always early

I wake up at 5 a.m. and leave for work at 6 a.m. My commute is only about five minutes, which is great. I’m also a full-time student, and my job is one of the reasons why I’m able to make it work. I know I’m lucky.

photo: iStock 

Another reason why I’m able to make it work is that I live with my mom. She’s the one who wakes my children up at 5:30 a.m. and gets them, and herself, ready for school and work. I do feel guilty sometimes because my job and child care situation takes away time spent with my kids (they aren’t allowed to be in the classroom with me), and I struggle with not being able to control things like whether or not they get their homework done.

photo: Energiepic via Pexels

My Work Day: Halfway through the day, I have to switch into student mode

It’s a mad dash after I leave my job at 10 a.m. At this point, I’ve already been at work for half the day. When I get home I have to quickly switch gears into student mode (I’m working on a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.). Between classes and schoolwork, there’s little to no time left for anything else before I rush back to work at 3:15 p.m. to get ready for the after-school program.

photo: iStock 

Afternoon: It can be frustrating waiting so late for parents to pick up their kids

The bell rings at 3:40 p.m.; my coworkers and I divide the students and go to our respective classrooms—my children being in the other class, of course. I do my best to keep the boundaries of mom and teacher when at work, but it isn’t always easy when they see me in the halls.

Throughout the week either my mom or I will shuttle the kids to their practices or home after school, and it can get late. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I don’t pick up my daughter until 8 p.m.!

The rest of the week, I’m usually home by 7 p.m., but we generally have at least one parent a week that doesn’t arrive to pick up their child by 6:30 p.m., and I occasionally end up staying at work until 7 p.m. or even 7:30 p.m. I get that everyone runs late, but these late evenings are so agonizing. Parents who arrive after closing time are taking away from time I can spend with my own kids, and I can’t help but feel annoyed.

photo: iStock 

Evening: Even though I’m exhausted, this is the best part of my day

My mom makes dinner and tries to have it ready around the time I get home. After dinner, I sign any papers from school, check on the kids’ homework, do bath time and have them in bed by 9 p.m. Bedtime is definitely my favorite part of the day. Since our schedules are so hectic, this is the only time we can fit in quality time during the week. My ex-husband only sees them once a month, so I try to set aside this time just for my kids.

photo: Pixaby via Pexels

Bedtime: It’s a struggle for me to actually slow down after the kids are asleep

I’m often not in bed until 11 p.m. or even 12 a.m. I know that’s not enough sleep, but I really struggle to wind down after my day. The crazy thing is that in just a few hours, it’ll start all over again.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.




Our new series, Family Tales, is an honest peek into the daily lives of families across the country who are on this crazy ride we call parenthood! From divulging childcare costs to breaking down family finances to managing bedtime routines with multiple kids, we tap into the Red Tricycle army of parents to find out how they’re making it work. This series is a judgment-free zone.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.

I’m a Former New Yorker Living in Rural California & Homeschooling My Daughter on $20K a Year. Is Our Lifestyle Comfortable? Ha! Does It Work? Yes.


My age and occupation: 45, full-time student, copywriter, jewelry designer, website manager
My partner’s age and occupation: 43, videographer, web designer, kitchen prep
Annual household income: $20,000
City: Mount Shasta, CA

Childcare costs per year: not much because all our other work is intentionally from home, but what we do spend is under the table.
How we found our childcare: neighborhood connections
Our child’s age: 8

photo: Creative commons

We live in a small community in Northern California called Mount Shasta—you may recognize the town’s name as the namesake of the local volcano just nine miles away. There are only a little over 3,000 people in town, which means those of us who live here are close. For my wife and I (we’re both women), community is literally everything. Having a network of trusted people we can rely on—for childcare, support and networking—makes our life in this tiny town actually possible. We make collectively $20,000 per year, which means we know how to budget, trade and make a dollar stretch way more here than if we lived anywhere else. Curious how we do it with an eight-year-old? Here’s our story:

Morning: Homeschooling Days Are My Favorite

Every day in our family begins at 7 a.m. when we get my daughter ready for school. She goes to a charter school three days a week and the other two days she’s homeschooled. For five months this year my wife did not have work and took predominant responsibility for getting our daughter to school. During that time since my wife took morning duty, I studied, focused on client work or headed off to class.

photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Now that my wife is shuffling jobs (typical here in Mount Shasta), we split duties. Lately, I drop my daughter off at the local charter school, which is nine miles away from home, then head to class or head home to study or work. Two days a week our daughter is homeschooled, which generally involves required worksheets and nature hikes. I love our homeschool days because we garden, head out into nature or learn show tunes, cook and do other things I can integrate learning into. These days with my daughter are my absolute favorite.

Mid-day: Hustling to Make Ends Meet

My wife and I both cobble together a variety of different gigs from working in a restaurant to video editing to web work, which is great that we’re both home so much for our daughter, but we’re constantly hustling to cover our monthly expenses every moment of the day.

photo: Pixabay

Expenses now includes utilities, old car maintenance, gas (up to $4/gallon in California right now and when you live rural, you drive), rent and dance classes for our daughter. We also pay for a summer camp, but it’s cheap. It’s run by an Emmy-award winning Broadway performer and is a theater camp, and it costs less than $200 for the summer. Our monthly expenses can stress us out, but I feel lucky that my wife and I are on the same page and split responsibilities (with our daughter and otherwise) evenly.

Afternoon: We Lean on Our Community Every Day

Like I mentioned, community is everything to us here and we’ve been lucky enough to find our niche. Since everyone is community-minded, no afternoon is the same. We share responsibilities (the term we use is “kid-shifting”) like picking up, dropping off and bringing kids to and from dance classes like hip hop and ballet. Most of our friends aren’t working a standard 9-5 lifestyle so this kid-shifting works. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into maintaining a community here and swapping with other parents.

photo: Matthew Henry via Burst

It’s such a relief to know we’re not alone and if my wife or I have something we can’t get out of, we can rely on our tribe to help us with our daughter—all without ever feeling guilty about asking or that we owe them one in the future. Despite our community what does make me the most anxious are those days when we can’t find someone to take her. Next semester she might even be coming to class with me!

Evening: Sometimes I Wish for More

We have dinner together and then our daughter goes to bed at 8 p.m. and we stay up until at least midnight working and studying. Our family’s lifestyle at this stage of life works for us but is it seriously comfortable? Ha! Now, “comfortable” is subjective. The truth is that we live rural in an old house, which is a far cry from our previous lives as a New Yorker and a Canadian in Paris. We live very simply, intentionally, to avoid much debt. We buy everything second-hand. We don’t go out much, cook simply and I manage my daughter growing out of stuff constantly by maintaining credit at a consignment shop. I used to own one and also worked as a “picker” for a while, so I’m good at that.

photo: Nicole De Khors via Burst

But…even $40,000 a year would mean the ability to pay for a new-to-us vehicle. A truck would be helpful so we could get our own firewood for the winter. We’re working on it. My wife is Canadian and wasn’t legally allowed to work for a year, and I was building a business online and waiting tables to support us, and then I decided to go back to school. It took her another year to build her own business (jobs are scarce here, especially anything that really pays, and she has two degrees in her field). Because I am in school again and being with our daughter is more important to us than constantly working, we do this all very slowly. My credit is really good because I manage it really well. But tell me any family lives “comfortably” on $20,000 a year.

Sure, I want more financial resources (who doesn’t?), but if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change anything. I don’t believe in thinking like that.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.


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Do you count down the days until Hallmark’s holiday movies return for the season? If you’re already planning to curl up with a cozy blanket and the Hallmark Channel, why not get paid $1,000 while you’re at it?

CenturyLink wants to pay a lucky fan to spend 12 days watching 24 Hallmark holiday movies. All you have to do is complete a short questionnaire and upload a two to three-minute video showing off your joyful Christmas spirit. You also have to be somewhat social media savvy and be willing to share your movie marathon with your followers.

If you’re chosen for the dream job, you’ll be paid $1,000 to watch and critique Hallmark’s holiday movies for 12 days. You’ll post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter each time you watch a movie with the hashtags #CountdowntoChristmas and #HallmarkDreamJob.

The winner will also be gifted with a Hallmark movie watching kit, which includes a streaming service subscription, packet of hot cocoa, box of Christmas cookies, string of fairy lights, mini Christmas tree and plenty of Hallmark swag. Get started by completing the application here. The application period is open now until Dec. 6.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: Hallmark Channel via Instagram



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Do you love tinkering as much as your tots do? Sign the whole family up for an exciting pilot program in engineering through the Boston Museum of Science!

If you’re looking to foster a love of STEM in your kids, then the program hosted by Engineering in Elementary (EiE) at Boston Museum of Science could be the perfect fit. The museum is currently on the hunt for kids and their families across the country to participate in the new Engineering At Home program.

EiE, which develops STEM-based classroom curriculum for elementary schools, is inviting families to apply to test a new learning program to be utilized at home. The Engineering At Home activity guides will be written for parents and requires little or no prior experience with engineering. In addition, the materials needed will be inexpensive and easy to source. Each activity will guide families through the Engineering Design Process to design a technology that solves a problem.

EiE is looking for families with kids ages four to 11 to test one of the activities and provide feedback. If you are interested in applying, all you have to do is complete a very short questionnaire about your family here and you’ll be notified by email if you’ve been chosen.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: iStock



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Our new series, Family Tales, is an honest peek into the daily lives of families across the country who are on this crazy ride we call parenthood! From divulging childcare costs to breaking down family finances to managing bedtime routines with multiple kids, we tap into the Red Tricycle army of parents to find out how they’re making it work. This series is a judgment-free zone.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.

I’m a Single Mom Living on $107K a Year and I Have No Regrets


My age and occupation: 37, physician assistant
My partner’s age and occupation: I’m a single mom
Annual household income: $107,000
City: Rochester, NY

Childcare costs per year: $18,000 per year over the table
How we found our childcare: Google
Our kid(s) ages: 8 and 6


photo: Brooke Lark via unsplash 

After my separation from my ex-husband it was just me and the girls and I desperately needed care. I googled every daycare in our area. Luckily, I found one, we visited and we all loved it. Sometimes I feel like I’ll be paying for expensive daycare for forever but I know it won’t always be like that. The elementary school years are fun, and having the girls in AM and PM care allows me to work and provide for our family. It wasn’t always easy but I am happy with the decisions I’ve made.


I wake up at 6 a.m. If I am up before my girls, I get their breakfast around and start packing lunches for the day. They’re up by 6:30 a.m. to eat at home before school, then dressing, hair brushing and tooth brushing. I no longer allow TV in the mornings because we were struggling to get out the door on time. Now that they’re in third grade and kindergarten they dress independently and brush their teeth and hair independently, I just do hair styling.

photo: Rubbermaid Products via Flickr

We leave the house by 7:15 a.m. so I can drop them off at our daycare for AM care. Both kids will get on the bus at daycare. From there, it’s hugs and kisses goodbye and a final wave at the waving window. I head to work, which is a 20 minute commute by car.


I work as a PA at an outpatient office where I see patients from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. I try to do all of my work, at work, which usually means that I work through my lunch hour doing charts and returning patient calls. But I’m ok with that. I finally feel like I’m living comfortably, but it wasn’t always that way. It took me a couple years after my separation to get there. I get minimal financial assistance from my ex husband.

photo: Free-Photos from Pixabay


I typically pick up the girls from PM care around 5 p.m. Our district only has half day kindergarten so my younger daughter rides the bus to daycare after her AM kindergarten class at public school and eats lunch and does wrap care there.

Thankfully our daycare is really close to our house so we’re home quickly. I also love that my kids have made friends there and they’re rarely closed for random days like snow days. Even though childcare is more than my rent, it’s such a great place for working parents and totally worth the money, especially since I have no family in the area to help out.

photo: Moshe Harosh from Pixabay

Evening is always challenging for me because I’m tired from work and the girls still need help with homework and I need to prep/make dinner. I am divorced and I often make the girls something I know they’ll eat for dinner (pancakes, eggs and toast, spaghetti) without fighting me on it. I usually end up making myself something separate and eating after them or sometimes as late as when they’re in bed. I try and have my third grader do her homework when I’m making dinner, and then I listen to my kindergartener read after dinner. Then they usually watch one show on Netflix and I try and eat something then.


I try and get the girls in the shower between 6:30-7 p.m. They shower every night and share a room with bunk beds. We either read a chapter book together or they listen to an audiobook before lights out which is 7:30 p.m.

I always scratch backs and sing songs to them before bed. Bedtime is one of our prime connection points for the day. Usually they’re asleep by 8 p.m. and I unpack backpacks, wash lunch boxes, do dishes, and then relax/read/watch a show on Hulu or Netflix before I’m usually in bed by 10 p.m.

Interested in telling your story? Start by filling out our questionnaire here. All stories are anonymous.



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No one enjoys a hospital day, but when it comes to sick children the experience is one that’s far from the comforts of home. While past research has looked at how parents feel their children view hospital experiences, rarely does anyone ask the kids themselves.

Recent research from the Edith Cowan University’s School of Nursing is one of the first to evaluate what kids themselves want in a hospital. And what did the study find?

photo: Snapwire via Pexels

The researchers assessed 193 school-aged children in Australia and New Zealand, using the answers to develop the “Needs of Children Questionnaire” or NCQ. The questionnaire will help to measure hospitalized children’s psychological, physical and emotional needs.

Lead researcher, Dr. Mandie Foster, said of the NCQ, “Historically the literature on children’s needs and experiences within healthcare settings have been largely limited to surveys completed by adults answering for children.” Foster also added, “Development of the NCQ is part of an international movement to place children as central to care delivery, which honors the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

If you’re wondering what the children in the study identified as their most important needs, “To know I am safe and will be looked after” topped the list. Along with safety, the children in the study also said sleeping well at night, a staff that listens to them, a place for their parents to eat and having parents help to care for them were important.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, can help both children and healthcare providers. Foster noted, “As adults, we often make assumptions about children’s needs and wants, but hospitals can be a scary and unfamiliar environment for many children and we shouldn’t assume we know how they are feeling.” She continued, “From a medical point of view, child self-reports are essential to inform healthcare delivery, policy, research and theory development.”

—Erica Loop



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