TIME Parenting

For Marissa Mayer, Being a CEO Mom Is Easier Than Being a Non-CEO Mom

Bossy Mayer
Peter Kramer—NBC/Getty Images

Belinda Luscombe, an editor-at-large of TIME, writes about the science, economy and insanity of relationships—those conducted at home, work or in cyberspace. She's also the editor of the Time for Parents newsletter and was formerly the editor of the magazine's Culture section. Luscombe has worked at TIME since 1995, after moving to New York City from Sydney.

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, is pregnant with twins. While many important and prominent male leaders have twins (President George W. Bush for one) and nobody seems to think it’s big deal, this is different, partly because Mayer is a twin-carrying CEO, which is kind of rare, and partly because, for better or worse, mom CEOs are judged differently from dad CEOs.

Last time Mayer and her husband Zachary Bogue had a kid, speculation ran riot over whether she was taking too little time off or whether she would be able to spend enough time with her kid or whether Yahoo could be well-led by a new mom. Having twins, which, as any parent of multiples can tell you, is not like looking after two babies so much as carrying two buckets of eels with no bucket, so this news is likely to kick that kind of speculation into overdrive. How can she have enough bandwidth for all she needs to get done?

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But here’s the thing: Mayer is a CEO. Her essential job description is: get people to do stuff. And as CEO, she has oodles or practice at management and oodles of money and oodles of options. I recently interviewed YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, who’s a mother of five kids, aged from just months to 15 years. It’s her contention that being a CEO mom is way easier than being non-CEO mom. “The challenges for me were more when I got started,” says Wojcicki. “My nanny was my first employee; that’s a difficult person to manage. It’s more emotional than it is in the office.”

Wojcicki points out that not only do you have fewer resources and less cash when you’re starting out, you don’t have any management skills. “Now I have really good management skills partially which I have developed from being at work,” she says. “For work I have to delegate. At home I got better at finding people who could help me, so I can focus on the things that are important: the kids when they need me and the kids and their homework.”

Mayer has said she will treat this pregnancy and childbirth like the last one, meaning she won’t take much time off (last time she took two weeks). For her most recent child, Wojcicki has taken 14 of the 18 weeks of paid maternity leave that Google offers. (Yahoo offers 16 weeks.) These women don’t necessarily need to take so much time off, because they have the wherewithal to have their kids’ needs taken care of when they go back to work. But those moms who are still on the lower rungs of the ladder have fewer choices. And some have little or no paid maternity leave, so taking a lot of time off isn’t even an option.

“That’s when I think women are more likely to drop out of the workforce,” says Wojcicki, who has written publicly of the need for more paid parental leave. “When you’re earlier in your career, you have fewer resources and you’re paid less and you also don’t have any management skills. That was the time for me that was really hard.”

While companies such as Google have offered such options to their female workforce as egg freezing, or company subsidized shipping of breast milk from work trips, these are clearly amenities that enable moms to make their lives more like old-school dads’ were: unencumbered by child-rearing. They’re also much more about outsourcing the mechanics of having children and less about the soft skills, like helping kids process their day. A different approach would be to consider the skills and restrictions of parenthood as more of an asset and to encourage employees to use them for the benefit of the company.

Wojcicki, for example, says her desire to be home for dinner with her kids made it difficult for her in the beginning because she was more reluctant to go to evening events or travel as much. It’s one of the reasons, she believes why as the CEO of a site with a billion users, she has an unfamiliar name to most people. But that desire to cap her workday also helped her to prioritize and time-block ruthlessly. “I have to optimize that time I’m in the office and I have to focus on the highest priority things, the things that are really going to make a difference,” she says. “In some ways that’s helped me because it has aligned me with Google trying to do something very quickly.”

To be fair, some of the attention on CEO moms is warranted, because they’re the ones breaking new ground. Dad CEOs manage having kids the same way they’ve done it for decades: by leaving it their wives to organize it. No major upheaval going on there. But for a couple of generations there, most wealthy educated moms stayed home and raised kids. Now that they are becoming the bosses, it’s taking a while for the gears to shift. More companies are starting to offer parental leave, for either gender, rather than just maternity leave, but only a teensy tiny proportion of wealthy educated dads opt to raise kids full time. It’s natural that we are more curious about how women are managing this transition.

But let’s make sure we aren’t forgetting the vast majority of women, for whom motherhood comes before the keys to the C-suite. Perhaps by the time Mayer and Bogue’s daughters are hitting the career track they can feel free to repopulate the planet at any point they choose.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME advice

6 Ways to Deal With Rejection

door-closing
Getty Images

Learn from the inevitable low moments of life

Realize it’s inevitable. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to think you are as indispensable and wonderful as your mom does. The expression, “Get used to rejection” may be trite and overused, but it certainly is true.

See rejection as an opportunity to learn. Don’t let yourself move on until you can verbalize to yourself at least 3 lessons from the experience of rejection. Even if you were rejected unfairly, there is always something positive you can take away from the experience.

If you deserved to be rejected, then own it. Sometimes, believe it or not, we all deserve to be turned down for something. Take responsibility for any foolish decisions you made, or behavior in which you engaged. Then, do yourself a favor: don’t repeat the error.

Be compassionate toward others who face rejection. Once your heart’s been broken by that rejection email, you can empathize with others who are going through the same thing. Be there for them. And someday you may have to write that rejection email. When you do, remember how it feels to be on the receiving end.

Take the high road. Avoid the temptation to blast the person or organization that just turned you down, especially on social media. You can never take that tweet or Facebook status down. It’s there forever. If you must speak to the experience of rejection publicly, then let your words reflect grace and dignity.

Don’t give up. If you give up on that book idea, business venture, job pursuit, grad school idea, or whatever, then your experience of being rejected was a waste. Never let a devastating, cry-your-eyes-out, come-from-nowhere experience of being rejected go to waste. “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.”

This article originally appeared on Avelist

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TIME Crime

Men Who Buy Sex Are More Prone to Sexual Violence, Study Says

Sex buyers share characteristics with men who commit sexual violence

Men who buy sex are more prone to sexual coercion and are more likely to report a history of sexual violence, according to a new study.

The study of 101 men in the Boston area, published Monday in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, found that men who hire prostitutes tend to have less empathy for women and tend to share characteristics with sexually violent men. The researchers screened 1,200 men in order to isolate demographically comparable groups to interview. “Both groups tend to have a preference for impersonal sex, a fear of rejection by women, a history of having committed sexually aggressive acts and a hostile masculine self-identification,” said UCLA professor Neil Malamuth, who co-authored the study, in a statement. “Those who buy sex, on average, have less empathy for women in prostitution and view them as intrinsically different from other women.”

The researchers define “hostile masculinity” as a hostile and narcissistic desire to have power over women. One man told researchers he thought of prostitution like buying a cup of coffee: “When you’re done, you throw it out.”

The study also found that men who buy sex are more likely to rape and commit other sexual offenses. The study comes as more and more jurisdictions are focusing on targeting johns rather than prostitutes in their efforts to curb prostitution and sex trafficking, and on the heels of Amnesty International’s vote in August to recommend the complete decriminalization of prostitution for buyers and sellers. Read about the effort to target sex-buyers in the United States here.

The study was co-authored by Melissa Farley, who runs Prostitution Research & Education, a nonprofit that studies prostitution and sex trafficking. In its mission statement, PRE says it is dedicated to abolishing the prostitution altogether. The study was also funded by Hunt Alternatives.

SPECIAL REPORT: Catching Johns: Inside the National Push to Arrest Men Who Buy Sex

 

TIME advice

How to Save Money at the Supermarket

couple-shopping-supermarket
Getty Images

Make a shopping list and stick to it

Want to save money in every single aisle at the grocery store? No sweat. Seriously! These five low-effort supermarket-savings strategies do not require complex cost-benefit calculations, time-consuming research or pre-shopping preparation.

1. Cheat off your grocer’s math homework. Is the bigger box of cereal actually cheaper than two smaller boxes? Put down that calculator and get the answer right off the sticker posted on the shelf — the per-unit price “cheat sheet.” This savings shortcut helps you instantly compare different sizes and brands of everything you toss into your cart. It’s like cheating off the smart kid in math class, only there’s no risk of detention.

2. Stick to your shopping syllabus. There’s a reason the proverbial “they” say never shop when hungry or without a grocery list: These timeworn nuggets actually work. An estimated 40% to 70% of supermarket purchases are unplanned (a.k.a. “impulse buys.”) You can save some serious cash by composing a grocery list and sticking to it (the latter is a critical part of the equation). If you have standard meals in rotation, type out all the staples you need and make a stack of copies to keep in your pantry. Before each trip to the store simply checkmark the items you actually need. And no, adding things to the list as you toss them into the cart doesn’t count.

3. Become BFFs with your grocer. Most people don’t need any more plastic in their wallet. The one exception is a card that helps you save money, not spend it: your supermarket’s loyalty program (sometimes called a shopper’s club card). Enrollment is usually free, and the rewards for card-carrying customers are instant. Soon your grocer may even get to know you better than you know yourself and provide tailor-made coupons (printed on your receipt or mailed to your home) based on your shopping patterns.

4. Stop binge buying. Yes, we’re back to harping about making a shopping list. Here’s yet another reason to never leave home without one: The average household tosses 14% of its groceries down the disposal every month — that’s nearly $600 annually going to waste because of bad planning and overbuying. Toss fewer greens in the trash and keep more green in your wallet by making a list of what (and how much) you need before you’re at the store.

5. Pay with paper, not plastic. Give your credit cards a rest and start stocking your wallet with cash before you shop. Research show that people spend as much as 18% more when the transaction doesn’t involve cash. Using cash forces you to be more mindful of what you buy, plus it limits your spending to the amount of money you have in your wallet. Voilà! Instant budget!

This article originally appeared on Cozi

This article was written by Dayana Yochim for Cozi, a Time Inc. company. Cozi is the leading family organizing app that makes it simple to keep track of everyone’s schedules, shopping lists and to dos. Information is updated in real time and shared with each member of the family, so everyone is always on the same page. Get the Cozi app (it’s free!) at cozi.com or search for Cozi in your favorite app store.

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TIME Food & Drink

10 Steps for Baking Your Best Cake Yet

Adjust the recipe to fit the pan size

Whether you’re making a towering skyscraper of buttercream or a one-bowl wonder, baking a cake is an investment—in time, in ingredients, and in pride. And with so much on the line, it’s only logical that you do everything you can to guarantee that your cake is realized as slices on plates rather than scraps in the trash can.

With tips from Alice Medrich, baking expert extraordinaire, you—and your cake—are in good hands. From the recipe you choose to the time you allow your cake to cool before digging into it, Alice’s 10-step program will help ensure your cake (and your ego) remain intact.

Here’s what to do:

TIME Business

The Woman Who Made History by Answering the Phone

Early Switchboard
Hulton Archive / Getty Images Telephone operators sitting in front of a long switchboard at the Cortlandt Exchange in New York City around the turn of the century

Sept. 1, 1878: Emma Nutt becomes the first female telephone operator

The first telephones were hard enough to use without the added harassment of the teenage boys who worked as the earliest switchboard operators — and who were, per PBS, notoriously rude.

It was Alexander Graham Bell himself who came up with a solution: replacing the abrupt male operators with young women who were expected to be innately polite. He hired a woman named Emma Nutt away from her job at a telegraph office, and on this day, Sept. 1, in 1878, she became the world’s first female telephone operator. (Her sister, Stella, became the second when she started work at the same place, Boston’s Edwin Holmes Telephone Dispatch Company, a few hours later.)

As an operator, Nutt pressed all the right buttons: she was patient and savvy, her voice cultured and soothing, according to the New England Historical Society. Her example became the model all telephone companies sought to emulate, and by the end of the 1880s, the job had become an exclusively female trade.

Many women embraced the professional opportunity, which seemed like a step up from factory work or domestic service. But the work wasn’t easy, and telephone companies were draconian employers, according to the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, which notes:

Merely to get the job, a woman had to pass height, weight, and arm length tests to ensure that she could work in the tight quarters afforded switchboard operators. Operators had to sit with perfect posture for long hours in straight-backed chairs. They were not permitted to communicate with each other. They were to respond quickly, efficiently, and patiently — even when dealing with the most irascible customers.

It soon became clear to these operators why the teenage boys who preceded them had so often talked back to their customers. One woman, in an anonymous 1922 op-ed for the New York Times, reported saying “number please” an average of 120 times per hour for eight hours a day (and sometimes at night) — and biting her tongue when she was excoriated for every possible connection problem, “including the sin of sending your party out to lunch just when you wanted to reach him.”

Working under these conditions for impossibly meager pay (Nutt herself made $10 a month working 54 hours a week) ultimately drove the women to organize. In 1919 they went on strike, paralyzing the telephone-dependent New England region — and winning a wage increase.

Nearly a century after Nutt first connected a call, switchboards remained almost entirely staffed by women. In 1973, a group of women filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about this hiring disparity — and the corresponding dearth of women employed in other telecommunications positions. The EEOC persuaded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (later known as AT&T) to sign an agreement opening every job in the company to both sexes.

The agreement backfired in its intended effect, however. “[It] is producing many more male operators than female linemen or telephone installers,” TIME observed later that year. Boys, it seemed, had retaken their place at the switchboard.

Read more about the 1973 case, here in the TIME archives: Crossed Wires at Bell

TIME Travel

These Are the Friendliest Cities in the World

Hospitality and helpfulness reign at the planet’s friendliest cities

Every year, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on their favorite cities around the globe in our annual World’s Best Awards survey. While some are wooed by famed landmarks and ancient relics, or the sheer number of prized artworks preserved within a city’s museums, others are won over by the people.

Friendliness, be it instinctual hospitality, or a warm smile at every storefront, does a lot to make a city more accessible to travelers. Like the U.S. cities that toped the charts in our annual America’s Favorite Places survey and appeared on our Friendliest Cities in America list, these destinations—both far flung and near to home—know how to charm.

People who are proud of their city, passionate about its culture, and invested in its future are eager to share that with visitors. Like voluntary tour guides, they’re the first to point you in the right direction, share a little-known cafe home to the most spectacular local delicacy, or defend its proverbial walls in times of crisis or controversy.

  • 30. Key West, Fla., U.S.

    key-west-florida
    Reyperezoso/Flickr

    Key West is one of the most eccentric and seductive cities in the nation. Don your tropical linen shirts with pride and check out one of the colorful artist havens, such as Studios of Key West, newly relocated to Eaton Street. Or perhaps catch a show at the new resident theater company, On the Rock.

    Score: 84.983

  • 29. Santa Fe, N.M., U.S.

    santa-fe-new-mexico
    Kylie McLaughlin—Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

    “Locals are sincerely friendly, and it’s safe,” said a World’s Best voter about Santa Fe. Artists and jewelers flock here in droves for handmade Native American crafts, silverwork, and turquoise.

    Score: 85.000

  • 28. Lisbon, Portugal

    lisbon-portugal
    Getty Images

    Hilly Lisbon is best explored via historic trolley, though with a great pair of walking shoes, you can see the sights on foot. Portuguese food puts great emphasis on fresh fish and wine: order fish stew with lemongrass and ginger at Alma, or 1300’s Taberna’s grilled sea bass with crab rice. And the people? Readers applauded them for their helpfulness and grace.

    Score: 85.023

  • 27. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    puerto-vallarta-mexico
    Getty Images

    Pushy peddlers notwithstanding, Puerto Vallarta received praise for being as ideal for couples as well as families on holiday. “There are plenty of things to do,” observed one reader, “yet it somehow retains its small-town feel.” With many a white-sand beach and tropical jungle, its archeological sites and bustling boardwalks, you’ll never be at a loss for a diversion.

    Score: 85.248

  • 26. Amsterdam, Netherlands

    amsterdam-netherlands
    Moment RM/Getty Images

    There’s something inherently warm about Amsterdam, especially in the springtime when the parks are full of blooming tulips. It’s easiest to make friends if you’re mounted on a bike: in this city, cyclists come first, pedestrians second, and automobiles dead last.

    Score: 85.459

  • 25. Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minn., U.S.

    minneapolis-st-paul-minnesota
    courtesy of Meet Minneapolis Official Convention + Visitors Association

    Thanks to the Minnesota Institute of the Arts, the Sculpture Garden (now in its 20th year), and the stunning conservatory at the Como Zoo & Conservatory—among countless other free things—the city has a reputation for being welcoming and open to visitors and locals alike.

    Score: 85.932

  • 24. Copenhagen, Denmark

    copenhagan-denmark
    Getty Images

    Copenhagen may be best known for its avant-garde cuisine and striking architecture, but it also registers as one of the friendliest cities in the world. The Danes are relentless in their friendliness, honesty, and hospitality. But yes, the food is in fact superb.

    Score: 85.960

  • 23. Cuzco, Peru

    cuzco-peru
    Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

    There’s more to Cuzco than Machu Picchu. “Cuzco is a tourist town,” noted one voter, “and for that, the people are quite outstanding. [They] really look out for their visitors.”

    Score: 86.111

  • 22. Portland, Maine, U.S.

    portland-maine
    Courtesy of Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau

    This modest city along the northern coast attracts a laidback, outdoorsy crowd. The people of Portland live up to their reputation for friendliness as easily as the lobster rolls and blueberry pies.

    Score: 86.275

  • 21. Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.

    fort-worth-texas
    Stephen Saks—Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

    The heart of cowboy country beats with an enthusiastic and zealous group of locals hanging out at the Old Fort Worth Stockyards and enjoying the city’s much-loved barbecue. Many museums are free, and the residents take a certain pride in being less buttoned up than their neighbors in Dallas.

    Score: 86.296

    Read the full list HERE. This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME advice

6 All-Natural Cleaning Products You Can Make at Home

These effective natural cleaners can be made at reasonable costs

Recently, I had to clear out all our kitchen cabinets to prep for a renovation. This taught me a few things:

  1. There is no way I’m going to use up all my ground coriander before I die.
  2. I have one of those cornbread pans that makes little loaves that look like ears of corn! Who knew?
  3. I buy way, WAY too many cleaning products.

Once I started trying to avoid chemical cleaners, I think my stash doubled. Suddenly I have natural wood furniture cleaner AND wood floor cleaner, eco glass cleaner AND regular window cleaner, all-natural shower spray AND scrubby bubbles tile spray. There was no way I was going to cram all of those bottles and powders back into my pretty new cabinets. (Or buy a new set of cleaning products now that I was kitchen-poor.)

Annie B. Bond’s Eco-Clean Deck: 50 Recipes for Non-Toxic House Cleaners, a box of laminated cards featuring DIY homemade cleaning products, had been sitting on my bookshelf and mocking my laziness for years. I guess I’d always assumed it would be too much work to actually try them out. (It wasn’t.) Or that DIY recipes don’t clean as well as store-bought stuff. (Some of them actually do.)

After a little experimentation, I decided on a set of six effective solutions from her deck that would tackle every single surface in my apartment, and, all in all, I spent just $18 in supplies (including spray bottles and sponges). I’m kicking myself for not trying this sooner! Here’s how to make them:

  • 1. Basic Wood Cleaner

    lemon-solution
    Mark Weinberg/Food52

    1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
    1/4 cup water
    1/2 teaspoon natural liquid soap or detergent (I used Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castille Soap.)
    A few drops olive oil

    Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Saturate a sponge with the mixture, squeeze out excess, and wash surfaces.

    wood-cleaning
    Mark Weinberg/Food52

    You can use either vinegar or lemon juice in this recipe. A vinegar solution will keep between uses in an airtight jar, but if you use lemon, like I did, you’ll want to make only as much as you need for one cleaning. The original recipe also recommends 3 to 5 drops of essential oil for fragrance, but the fresh lemon scent was good enough for me.

  • 2. Super-Duper Dirty-Window Cleaner

    window-cleaner
    Mark Weinberg/Food52
    window-cleaner2
    Mark Weinberg/Food52

    1/4 teaspoon washing soda
    1/2 cup hot water
    1/4 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
    2 cups club soda

    Dissolve the washing soda in the hot water, then pour into spray bottle. Add the liquid soap and club soda. Shake to combine, then spray and wipe clean.

    window-cleaner3
    Mark Weinberg/Food52
    window-cleaner4
    Mark Weinberg/Food52

    I’d never heard of washing soda and was convinced I wouldn’t be able to find it at the store—but it was right next to the borax in the cleaning aisle! (Arm & Hammer makes a popular version.) Just a quarter teaspoon of it in this magic spray cleaned all my glass surfaces with no streaks.

  • 3. Toilet Bowl Sizzler

    1/2 cup baking soda
    1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

    Pour the ingredients into the toilet. Let sizzle, then scrub. Flush.

    First of all, how do you not love that name? Remember those volcanoes you used to make in elementary school? Imagine that chemical reaction plus extreme cleaning power! I’ve never had so much fun cleaning my toilet. (Correction: I’ve never had any fun cleaning my toilet.)

  • 4. Mildew-Removing Soft Scrubber

    mildew-scrubber
    Mark Weinberg/Food52
    mildew-scrubber2
    Mark Weinberg/Food52

    Borax
    Enough liquid soap or detergent to make a paste with a frosting-like consistency
    A few drops tea tree oil

    Place the borax in a bowl; slowly pour in the liquid soap, stirring all the while, until the consistency reaches that of a frosting. Add the oil and stir to combine. Scoop the creamy mixture onto a sponge, scrub the surface, and rinse.

    mildew-scrubber3
    Mark Weinberg/Food52

    Bond has a recipe for a basic soft scrubber, too, but I need extra power in the bathroom if I’m not using bleach. Borax, which you can find in the cleaning aisle of your grocery store, is surprisingly mighty for a natural ingredient.

  • 5. All-Purpose Alkaline Cleaner

    1/2 teaspoon washing soda (or baking soda if you want something gentler)
    2 teaspoon borax
    1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
    2 cups hot water

    Combine the washing soda, borax, and soap in a spray bottle. Pour in the hot water (it will dissolve the minerals), screw on the lid, and shake to completely blend and dissolve. Spritz every 6 inches of the surface once or twice, wiping off the cleanser with a rag as you go. For stains, leave the cleanser on for a few minutes before wiping it off. Shake the bottle before each use.

    Bond has many variations of all-purpose cleaner recipes, but I found that this one best cleaned my shower tiles, bathroom sink, quartz countertops, and laminate furniture surfaces.

  • 6. Stainless Steel Cleaner

    stainless-steel
    Mark Weinberg/Food52
    stainless-steel2
    Mark Weinberg/Food52

    Vinegar
    Olive Oil

    Spray the surface liberally with vinegar. Using a soft cloth, rub in the direction of the grain to clean. Polish by dipping the cloth in olive oil and rubbing again in the direction of the grain.

    Bond didn’t have a recipe for this, but my kit wouldn’t be complete without something to wipe away the smudges on our appliances. I’ve heard that vinegar will help, but for extra luster, The Kitchn had the answer.

    This article originally appeared on Food52

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TIME Research

Your Kid’s Gigantic Backpack Is a Health Risk

Child backpack
Getty Images

Like adorable turtles, their little limbs poking out from under outsized shells, kids shuffle their ways to school bearing on their shoulders ever-heavier backpacks. Even high schoolers have to bend forward beneath books and binders to cart their cargo to and from school. They’re burdensome (and can be goofy-looking), but are they dangerous?

Yes, say many experts.

“Since at least 1998, we’ve noticed backpacks getting bigger and heavier, and not in proportion to the kids’ sizes,” says Dr. Karen Jacobs, a clinical professor at Boston University and spokesperson for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), which sponsors a school backpack awareness day. Jacobs says crowded schools and scant locker space appear to be driving the phenomenon.

A 2010 study from the University of California, San Diego, concludes, “backpack loads are responsible for a significant amount of back pain in children.” The same study says a full third of kids aged 11 to 14 report back pain. Other research from 2011 came to a similar conclusion.

“Kids are saying ‘My back hurts, my neck and my shoulders hurt,’” Jacobs says. “A heavy backpack can also contribute to headaches and problems concentrating at school.”

Like the frame of a house, the spine what keeps your child’s body sturdy and upright. Put too much weight on this frame while a young body is still developing, and it could change a kid’s posture, compress his spine, and impair growth, says Rob Danoff, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and a certified family physician with Philadelphia’s Aria Health System. “It also might contribute to back problems or injuries when your child’s older,” Danoff says.

How heavy is too heavy? “As a general rule, research shows the backpack should be no more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight to avoid pain or potential injury,” Jacobs says. “We like to err on the side of caution and recommend 10 percent.” (Danoff’s recommendation—no more than 15 percent—falls in line with Jacob’s.)

For an elementary school child who weighs just 50 or 60 pounds, a couple textbooks and lunch could push a pack beyond the safe threshold. For that reason, Jacobs says it’s important to check your child’s backpack every day to ensure she’s carrying only what she needs. “We’ve noticed that students are taking lots and lots of water to school with them, which is a lot of unnecessary weight,” Jacobs says. “We’re telling parent to send empty water bottles and have their kids fill them at school.”

She also recommends positioning the heaviest items in the middle of the pack and close to your child’s back.

Danoff says proper fit and design are important to relieve pressure from your little guy or girl’s spine and shoulders. You want a backpack made for someone your child’s size, he says. Padded shoulder straps and a cushioned back will also prevent aches and pains.

Finally, for crafty parents who may be considering non-backpack options—like a small roller bag—Jacobs says some schools have already started banning rollers because they pose tripping hazards, or may litter classroom aisles or hallways in the event of a fire.

If all this is exasperating, take heart: it probably won’t be long before every text or course packet your child needs is digitized, and schools stock tablets in every classroom. At which point, we can start to panic about tech neck instead.


TIME advice

How to Deep Clean a Microwave

A chemical-free way to clean up your most-used kitchen appliance

 

This article originally appeared on TheSnug.com. Watch more how-to videos here.

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