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Smiling it Forward

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As a mom, few things are more heartbreaking than seeing your children’s sad little faces when they are sick, and few things are more wonderful than seeing them smile again after they recover. Tylenol calls these “feel better” smiles in its Smiling It Forward campaign, which is generating money to help bring smiles back to the faces of low-income children whose parents can’t afford healthcare.

Actress Alyson Hannigan kicked off the Smiling It Forward campaign by uploading a photo of her children to the website Sept. 17, 2013, and through Jan. 31, 2014, Tylenol will donate $1 to Children’s Health Fund for each photo that is approved and shared.

“It’s been fun. You can lose yourself in the gallery. I guess that’s why Pinterest is so addictive, you can look through people’s photos,” says Alyson, star of “How I Met Your Mother.”

The concept is simple: Anyone 18 or older can post a photo that makes them smile to, and Tylenol will donate $1 to Children’s Health Fund. The company has pledged a minimum donation of $75,000 and a maximum donation of $100,000. Children's Health Fund was founded in 1987 by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and Dr. Irwin Redlener. Its 50 mobile medical clinics provide healthcare to 85,000 low-income U.S. children each year.

When Tylenol approached Alyson Hannigan, mother of Satyana, 4, and Keeva, 1, to be a Mom Ambassador, she said, “It was a no-brainer.” She has used Tylenol products since she was a kid, but since she became a mom, they have been her best friends.

“When Satyana was a baby and teething, she was crying all the time. We took her to the pediatrician. We were worried we broke our child. The doctor said, ‘Just give her Tylenol when she’s in pain.’ It was a profound moment. It worked, and it was such a big relief,” Alyson says. “So when Tylenol approached me, it was a no-brainer. I was like, ‘yeah that’s my story, too.’”

Besides Tylenol, Alyson comforts her girls when they are sick by following the “you can’t spoil them enough approach.”

“I do whatever I can to make them feel better, cuddle up on the couch, TLC, chicken soup,” she says.

And when the girls are feeling their best, they do crafts together or go into major crafting mode, as Alyson describes it.

“We’re always trying to figure out cool new things to craft and decorate. We made our decorations this year. We just finished making pom poms on ribbons dangling from the ceiling. That’s really fun. Anything with glitter my 4 year old loves to do,” she says.

Alyson says she appreciates the everyday moments like making crafts, going to the grocery store, and taking her daughter to school. And she thinks she appreciates them more because she had her children in her 30s. Even if her doctor told her that having her first child at 35 made her an “advanced maternal age.”

“When he told me that, I thought, ‘how rude,’” Alyson says. “There are times when they have so much energy. I wish I had more energy to keep up with them. But I’m so glad my priorities are different than when I was younger. I was not as selfless. I love working and my job, but my family is so important to me. I don’t know if that is an age thing but with age came maturity for me.”

But even at her “advanced maternal age,” Alyson says she hasn’t learned the secret of balancing work and family flawlessly.

“I wish I did. I feel so overwhelmed, especially this time of year. I’m amazed by how much there is to do and not enough time to do it,” Alyson says. “Just do the best you can and know not everything is going to get done. I have no time. I have no secrets.”

Having a second child has not helped with time management, Alyson says.

“It’s so much different! It’s like a secret no one is telling you about. Everyone with two kids is like ‘Ha ha!’” she says. “It’s easier on one hand and so much harder on the same hand. You never have a break. There is always somebody there.”

But she said she loves being busy with two kids and would never change it for the world.

“The two of them together is so ridiculously sweet. I never had that because I was an only child, and I hated it. I thought I was missing something and now I know I did,” Alyson says. “They are sweet and lovely together, and I’m so glad I get to witness it and be a part of it.”

And now visitors of can see how sweet Alyson’s daughters are together, along with the tens of thousands other smiling photos that have been posted on the site as of Jan. 2. To add a photo that makes you smile, go to, click on “Share a smile”, and follow the three easy steps to post your photo by Jan. 31.

“Who doesn’t love to see smiling adorable kids? It’s such a great charity. Who doesn’t love sharing photos?” Alyson says.