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Motherly's 2019 State of Motherhood survey results

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At Motherly, we believe that motherhood matters. As the voice of today's modern mother, with a 20M+ monthly unique audience, we set out in our second annual State of Motherhood Survey to better understand the experience of motherhood as it stands right now—and to help the world discover and understand that story.

What we found is that Millennial mothers feel even more defined by motherhood than they did last year, but in 2019 they are also more likely to feel unsupported by society. A full 85% of moms don't think society understands or supports the women who are supporting the next generation, that's up more than 10% over last year.

The second annual State of Motherhood survey results have been reported by Forbes, Huffington Post, USA TODAY, Real Simple and other outlets, and continue to attract media attention.

Our internal team continues to unpack the survey data to create thought-leading content for our audience.

The survey, conducted online March 28 – April 11, 2019, was answered by 6,457 respondents and offers compelling insights into the attitudes, behaviors, identities and lifestyle of Millennial mothers—the most highly educated, first digitally-native generation of women to become mothers.

Data was run on April 16th by Edge Research to weight all data to align with US Census demographic data ensuring results are a statistically accurate representation of today's Millennial mother.

Read the full survey results here.

Among the key findings:

1. Motherhood and me

This year finds an even larger proportion of Millennial moms saying that since becoming a parent, they are "most strongly defined by their motherhood at 67% up from 59% in the 2018 survey. Continuing with the trend from last year, this is most true for younger moms (76% of moms under 30), those with more than one child (77%) and those who are not in the workforce (82%).

While 76% of moms under 30 feel most defined by motherhood, only 62% of moms over 35 say the same, suggesting that as moms mature, they retain or re-connect with other aspects of their identity. Importantly, one-third of Millennial moms say they are "most strong defined by other non-motherhood aspects of their life and self."

Data reference Q16: Select which best describes how you view your identity.

2. Impact to relationship + sex life

Most moms in the sample are married (91%) or living with a partner (6%). Similar to the 2018 findings, majorities report that having children has brought them closer together with their partners (74%), while one-fifth (21%) admit that parenthood has pulled them apart.

Spending time together with their partners (33%) and sex life (26%) top the list of parent-related relationship tension. This year, moms report that sex is a pressure point in even greater numbers than last year (up from 16% in 2018). Money worries rounds out the top three relationship tensions at 19% while parenting differences remains lowest on the list at 9%.

Interestingly, pressure points of time spent together and sex cut across all relationships in equal measure regardless of number of children and working outside the home:

Data reference Q07: Which best describes the impact on your relationship since becoming a parent; and Q08: What is your greatest parent-related relationship tension? (NOTE: 2018 wording "Which of the below best aligns your primary concern when reflecting on your relationship and parenthood?" could account for difference in responses).

This year Motherly dove a little deeper into the impact of becoming a parent on moms' sex lives. While most moms (53%) report becoming interested in sex again by 6 weeks after giving birth (11% before 6 weeks), fully 38% report it took 6-12 months before they were really interested in sexual intimacy again. Age seems to play a role with 67% of younger moms under 30 reporting being ready for sex by 6 weeks post-partum, compared to 54% of moms aged 30 to 34 and 44% of moms 35 and older. Perhaps more importantly, nearly a third of Millennial moms (31%) report having sex with their partner before they felt ready to do so.

Data reference Q09: At what point did you feel interested/ready to re-engage in sexual intimacy after becoming a mother? Q10. Did you have sex before you felt ready to do so?

3. Work + the millennial mom

Nearly identical to the 2018 survey, 53% of Millennial moms in the sample are working full-time, 15% part-time and 28% are not in the workforce currently. The majority of Millennial moms surveyed (54%) had a mom who worked outside the house on a regular basis. Among those working and in relationships, 39% report contributing half or more of the household income; while 43% contribute between a quarter and one-half and 16% contribute less than a quarter.

Financial need is down a bit from last year, though remains the top reason for Millennials moms to work (75% in 2019 compared to 83% in 2018). However, as we saw last year, the desire to work is evident as well. Both full-time (49%) and part-time working moms (53%) point to a "desire to participate in work outside the household." And more than a third (36%) of working moms are motivated by a commitment to their career. Similar to 2018, desire to participate in the workforce is evident among non- working moms as well with 63% saying they intend to return to the workforce in the future.

Data reference Q22: Are you employed? Q24: If "Yes", which best matches your reason for working? Select all that apply. Q34: How much of your family's annual household income do you contribute? Q40: If you don't currently work, are you planning to re-enter the paid workforce (part time or full time) at some point in the future?

4. Impact of parenting on work

Motherly dove deep into how moms are making work and motherhood work for them – or not.

Overall half (50%) of Millennial women surveyed report making a change to their work status since becoming a mother. Nine-in-ten (90%) part-time working moms say they changed their work status since becoming a parent, as did a quarter (24%) of full-time working moms. Among moms not currently employed, 73% report changing their work status, mostly to becoming stay-at-home moms. Most obviously for part-time working moms is changing to working fewer hours, i.e., moving to part-time from full-time (55%); followed by working from home (11%) or getting a more flexible role (7%). For moms who have continued full-time work, the most common changes are getting a more flexible role (10%), working fewer hours (6%), and working from home (4%) are the main ways they are adapting work to motherhood.

Examining the reasons behind why moms have adjusted their approach to work a mixed bag. For some (22%) it is about adjusting to new responsibilities. For others (20%) work became less important. A small but significant number (10%) also point to employer conditions not being conducive to working and parenting for a variety of reasons including the cost of childcare, inability to strike a work-life balance or the work culture not being supportive.

Data reference Q25: Have you changed your work status (i.e., full time to part time, etc.) in some way since becoming a parent? Q26: If "Yes", please describe how your job situation has changed since becoming a parent; Q27: If "Yes Adjusted Work Status, which best describes the reason for adjusting your approach to work?

5. Attitudes toward work + parenting

While the 2018 survey found most Millennial moms (78%) had mixed feelings about combining a career and motherhood, saying while "it's possible to have both, there are real trade-offs." This year, Motherly asked the question a bit differently, but again we see some mixed emotions. Just about half (51%) say, "I feel discouraged: it's extremely challenging managing trade-offs," while a third (33%) say, "I feel optimistic, I believe it's possible to combine them creatively." Perhaps of greater concern is that so few Millennial moms feel empowered by working. Fewer than 1-in-10 (9%) feel that becoming a mother has helped them in their career and the majority of those (59%) say they have felt that way since their child was a baby, indicating that this empowering is coming from within, rather than the workplace recognizing and validating the contributions of working moms.

Yet, when asked how work impacts their parenting skills, more than half of working moms (55%) say that working has empowered or inspired them to be a better mother. This holds true for working moms of all backgrounds and both full and part-time. Even more positively, 90% say their work choice has helped them set a positive example for their children – again equally true for full-time and part-time working moms.

Data reference: Q29: Which best describes your mentality around combining a career and motherhood? Q30: If you answered empowered, when did that feeling take hold? (If you did not, please select "not applicable."); Q38: If you are employed, does your work empower or inspire you to be a better mother? Q39: Do you believe that your work choice helps you to set a positive example for your children?

6. Support at work

Topping the list of the ways in which employers could better support mothers is longer, paid maternity leave (24%), followed by on-site childcare or childcare subsidies (21%), so in total 45% would like more support from employers in the transition to motherhood and ongoing support of child-rearing . Combined, flexible schedules (12%) and remote work opportunities (15%) make up the second big request from working moms – helping them better fit the need to work into the necessities of being a parent.

Encouragingly most working moms feel their place of employment is supportive of breastfeeding. Among those for whom it applies, 69% reported their employer provides adequate breastfeeding support in the form of time, privacy, etc. But there is still some work to be done in this regard: Just over 1-in-10 (12%) say their employer does not provide adequate support and another 15% say that even though their employer provides the space and breastfeeding is looked down upon in the culture of their workplace. These moms feel judged by both managers and co-workers.

Data reference: Q35: If you are employed, how could your employer best support you as a mother? Q36: If you are employed, does your employer provide adequate breastfeeding support? (i.e. time, privacy); Q37: If yes, but culturally you feel it is looked down upon, at what level do you feel like it is not accepted?

7. Support at home

Most of the moms in the sample are with a partner and majority of those partners (98%) are working as well. As we saw last year, the majority (59%) say their partner's career has not changed, while a significant minority (31%) say their partner has scaled up his or her career. Partner scale-up is most common among couples who have two or more children (38% for two or more children compared to 26% for one child) or where mom is not working (45%, compared to 35% when mom is working part-time or 22% when full-time). So, there is evidence that partners see the need to step up their economic contribution to the household after becoming a parent; but it is important to recognize that the age of respondents (in their 30s) means that their career trajectory would typically pick up at this point.

When asked directly about how supported they feel at home, working moms say partners have some room to improve with 68% saying they feel supported by their partners, but 28% saying "only sometimes." This "sometimes" qualifier manifests itself in the results of other lines of questioning about how much moms are doing for the household.

When asked where they need the most support since becoming a mom, survey respondents most frequently point to their physical and mental health (33%), followed by home (25%) and with their spouse (24%). These numbers come to life when you consider:

  • 4-in-10 (43%) report not going out with friends in the past month (non-working moms are even more likely to say this (52% compared to 40% among working moms)
  • Nearly 5-in-10 (47%) have not gone out on a date with their partner (also more likely to be true of non-working moms at 54% compared to 44%
  • 6-in-10 (61%) report handling most of the household chores and responsibilities themselves, with 32% saying they are shared equally and 5% who say their partner does the household lift
  • 6-in-10 (62%) also say that in the last day, they had less than one hour to themselves without work or family obligations.

Moms report spending the most time caring for children with 91% of full-time working moms, 97% of part-time working moms and 99% of non-working moms who report spending three or more hours a day actively caring for children. When it comes to the amount of time spent cooking and cleaning,

All moms are more likely to spend more time on chores than they are on themselves; and non-working moms are spending the most time. In fact, it

seems that as moms leave or draw down on work, household work takes up more time. How are they dealing? In the survey Millennial moms shared some of their go-to "life hacks." Some tactics cut across all moms, working and non-working like online shopping (66% working, 63% non-working), calendars and to-do lists (59% for both) and waking up earlier and going to bed later than everyone else in the household (44% working, 42% non-working). Other tactics are more likely to be used by working moms, most obviously child care assistance (29% working moms, 8% non-working) and pre-prepped meals (23% working, 16% non-working).

Data Reference: Q31: Is your partner employed? Q32: Has your partner opted to scale back or scale up their work since becoming a parent? Q23: If you are employed, do you feel supported by your spouse/partner? Q45: Where do you feel you need the most support in your life since becoming a mom? Q47: In the last month, how many times did you go out with friends? Q48: In the last month, how many times did you go on a date with your partner? Q52: Yesterday, how much time did you get to yourself without work or family obligations? Q53: In the last 24 hours, how much time did you spend on household chores? (i.e. laundry, cleaning); Q54: In the last 24 hours, how much time did you spend cooking? Q55: In the last 24 hours, how much time did you spend caring for children? Q49: What are your go-to 'life hacks'? Select all that apply.

8. Raising the next generation

Once again Motherly asked about parenting style and the qualities Millennial moms are trying to instill in the next generation. As we found last year, "kindness" is the single character trait the most moms want to cultivate in their children, holding steady as the top choice by 46%.

Notably, a number of other qualities all lost a little bit of traction with the addition of "resilience" to the list.

When it comes to the character of their children, we once again see some of the biggest differences in Millennial moms by race and ethnicity. White Millennial moms continues to place the most emphasis on kindness (51%) while their non-white counter parts value kindness to a lesser degree (27% among African-Americans, 41% among Hispanics).

Moms of color are more likely to place weight on respect and resilience:

When it comes to parenting style, Millennial moms surveyed say they are "Collaborative." "I am collaborative, I try to solve problems with my child" is the number one style across the board at 57% (down from 62% in 2018) and the top choice for every group. It is followed by "Hands On," with nearly a quarter (28%, up 5 points from 2018) describing their parenting style as "I'm very involved in directing my child." There are far fewer who say they are Disciplinarians, "I want my child to follow and obey family rules above all else" (4%) or Free Range, "I want my child to make their own decisions with limited parental interference" (5%).

When it comes to discipline, Millennials moms self-report that their approach is in keeping with their Collaborative parenting style. The survey asked moms what approach they used the last time they needed to discipline their child. The plurality (43%) report calmly redirecting and guiding their child. The next most likely approach was emotional reasoning at 18%.

Once again, moms with more than one child either have a different style of discipline or are simply more honest. They are much more likely to report using disciplinary tactics such as time out (17% compared to 5% of moms with one child); consequences (16% compared to 5% of moms with one child), or just plain yelling (12% compared to 4% of moms with one child).

Data reference: Q17: What is the most important quality you aim to cultivate in your child(ren)? Q19: Overall, what best describes your parenting style: [CHOICES GIVEN]; Q20: The last time you had to discipline your child, what action did you take?

9. Looking for guidance

When it comes to being inspired as parents, Millennial moms continue to follow the Three F's – Family, Fellow Moms and Faith. This year, family lost a little bit of traction, down to 36% from 45% in 2018; while fellow moms shows an uptick to 26% from 19% last year. Faith held fairly steady at 18% this year compared to 20% in 2018. As we saw last year, family is even more important to Latina moms at 41% than it is to white moms (34%); while African-American moms draw more on faith (25%) than other moms do.

When it comes to seeking guidance for a parenting challenge, sources are consistent with 2018. The survey asked, "the last time you faced a parenting challenge, who or what did you first turn to?" and family is on the spot. Just over a third (38%) of Millennial moms in the survey say the go-to source for their latest parenting challenge was family, peaking among Latina moms at 42%. As a source of parenting advice, Google at 16% slightly edges out friends at 14%.

Data reference: Q18: What is your most important source of inspiration as a parent? Q21: The last time you faced a parenting challenge, who or what did you first turn to?

10. Finances + family

By far, housing is the greatest expense for Millennial parents – the single largest expense for 69%. In a distant second, 10% say their biggest monthly expense is childcare at 10%, which climbs to 17% among working moms. The majority (59%) report that less than 10% of their monthly incomes goes to childcare – still 30% say it is between 11-25% and another 11% say childcare accounts for 26% or more of their monthly expenses. Not surprisingly, this expense is most acute among working moms where 45% report childcare accounting for 11-25% of their monthly spend.

Date Reference: Q43: Which monthly bill is most expensive? Q44: What percentage of your monthly household income goes to childcare?

Closing

This year, Millennial moms said even more strongly that (85%, compared to 74% in 2018) that society does not a good job of understanding and supporting mothers. This view is held across groups regardless of race, ethnicity, age, number of children and so on.

More than ever, they want government to step it up with family friendly policies on leave and childcare (59% compared to 49% in 2018) and they want to see employers be more understanding and offer flexible hours and part-time work (22%). As this large generation moves firmly into their parenting years, we can watch to see how their needs as parents the politics and policies of our country.

Data reference Q11: In general, do you feel that society does a good job of understanding and supporting mothers? Q12: In your opinion, what would have the biggest impact on the support of mothers?

METHODOLOGY STATEMENT. Motherly designed and administered this survey through Motherly's email subscriber list, social media and partner channels. This report focuses on the Millennial cohort of 3,920 respondents aged 23-38. The data were weighted to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data. Edge Research weighted and analyzed the data, providing insights to trends and key findings.


[This post was originally published on May 3, 2019. It has been updated.]

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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This article was sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Raising kids is such hard work, but the parents of the internet are inspiring us this week. The viral stories taking over our feeds this week remind us that whether a mama is working hard to deliver her baby, or working hard to teach her child a great work ethic, it all comes down to showing up for the ones you care about...and sometimes that means taking a bit of a creative approach.

These are the stories that made us smile this week:

This emotional viral video has us crying at this dad's commitment to supporting his wife during birth

Earlier this month, Kendall Caver became a new dad and he earned that title by supporting his wife through her a long labor.

In the now viral video which has been watched millions of times. Caver holds up a series of cards while his wife, Jasmine, looks on from her hospital bed. As his wife prepares to have their baby, Carver is flipping through the story of his life with Jasmine and offering words of encouragement.

In his original post to his Facebook page, Caver captioned the video with the sweetest statement. He wrote: "Encouraging my Wife through 2 days of labor 😙☺️ Last night my Warrior Wife gave birth to a beautiful Baby Girl!"

"Breathe, just like we've been practicing," the first card reads.

His cards tell the story of a couple on a 10-year journey, who are best friends who love each other deeply and supported each other through a previous pregnancy loss.

"I would do it all over again to know the indescribable happiness I know today," Carver wrote on one of the cards.

(Are you crying yet?)

"You are my best friend...soulmate...and in just a few pushes...you'll be the most amazing mother our daughter could ever ask for."

Jasmine pushed through, and the couple welcomed their daughter, Sofia, earlier this month.

And this family's beautiful love story continues.

This mom created a household hiring event to teach her kids about earning money

As parents, we're constantly trying to find that balance between caring for our children and teaching them to be independent. We want them to enjoy childhood, of course, but we also want to prepare them for adulthood. And one mother found an incredibly smart, creative way to teach her children about the realities of earning money.

Shaketha Marion McGregor is going viral after sharing a post showcasing her system. We can't say we're surprised: This mama went all out to create a "hiring event" to allow her children to earn allowance money.

"So, my children continue to ask for a new cell phone, an allowance, and to go places," the mom writes in the now-viral Facebook post. "Yesterday I told them that I've heard their requests and that I'll have a surprise for them today when they get home from school. SURPRISE!!! It's a whole hiring event! 😂 If you want it, work for it, earn it!"

Shaketha's photos show the incredible detail involved in her hiring event. She created three positions (kitchen manager, lead housekeeper and laundry supervisor) complete with job descriptor for each one, and scheduled a time for interviews for each position. Her children were asked to fill out applications for each job—and she even set up a credit union!

Let's just say the mama didn't take the job application process lightly. "Well you guys, the interviews are done and I'm still laughing!!!" she writes in a follow-up Facebook post. "I'm going to make my son reapply and interview again because he laughed 90% of the time.My 10yr old would sometimes start speaking in an English accent like that would help her. And my 6yr old surprised me the most. She was super professional."

Shaketha even sent her son a rejection letter to inform him the position he applied to had been filled.

We love this mama's system so much! We know there are huge benefits that come when children do chores, and we can say from firsthand experience that adjusting to the world of job applications and bill paying can be really tough if you've never learned about it.

This mom has found a way to teach her kids some really important lessons while having a little bit of fun in the process...and they'll undoubtedly be prepared to navigate adulthood when the time comes.

This little girl's viral video proves football talent isn't gender-specific

As News 5 Cleveland reports, a third grade student in Ohio is gaining viral fame for the impressive football skills she displayed in a recent gym class. Physical Education teacher Kent Hamilton posted the clip on Twitter. His student, Emma, is a soccer player and the teacher came up with a super cool way for her to practice kicking.

He projected an image of a field goal on the gym wall, and Emma proved it was almost too easy.

Emma's impressive kick has been seen millions of times, and Carli Lloyd, a member of the Woman's U.S. Soccer team who trained with NFL teams, retweeted it.

Emma's gym teacher thinks Lloyd (and Emma) prove professional football may soon include women. "I don't think a female player in the NFL is that far off. This is proof our future is bright for girls," Hamilton said.

It takes a lot of grit for girls to get into the sport as there are few leagues for them, but in recent years more and more goals have been making names for themselves in the boy's leagues.

From the 11-year-old quarterback leading her team in the North Dakota Youth Football League to the Michigan linebacker doing double duty as Homecoming Queen, these girls should be proof to everyone that they have a place in traditionally male-dominated sports.

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News

We all have pictures in our heads of what birth looks like even before we give birth. Sometimes these pictures are based on births we've witnessed in real life, but often our brains paint these pictures with memories of images we've seen on television or double-tapped on Instagram.

That is why we love how moms are posting their clear drape C-sections on Instagram, showing the world that this new kind of Cesarean delivery can be absolutely beautiful. By posting these pictures, mothers and birth photographers aren't just proving that C-section births are just as Insta-worthy as every other way women deliver, but they are also spreading awareness about clear drape C-sections, which are also known as "gentle Cesareans."

It is important for mamas to know that this is an option you can ask for and it is so beautiful.

What is a clear drape C-section? 

A clear drape C-section can be part of the trend medical professionals call "gentle Cesareans." The clear drape replaces the standard opaque blue one so that mama can look down and see her baby's first moments (although you can still have a gentle Cesarean even if you can't have a clear drape—we'll show you a great photo of what that can look like in a moment).

Basically, the clear drapes are part of a shift midwives and doctors are making to make Cesareans deliveries feel more like births and less like a cold medical procedure. The old standard ways of doing Cesareans have not been working for moms—so birth advocates and medical professionals are working to change that.

Just because a baby needs to be born via cesarean doesn't mean mama can't be a participant in her birth experience.

"Gentle Cesareans are a huge step in the right direction. We need to bring birth back to women. Women need options and choices, autonomy and respect. Becoming a mother is one of the most momentous events in a woman's lifetime—she deserves to have it be her best birth," says Motherly's Digital Education Editor, Diana Spalding, a midwife, pediatric nurse and founder of Gathered Birth.

Why the option of clear drapes is so important 

That first time you see your baby is so special and amazing, and most mothers want to see their child as soon as that baby is out in the world. But for many moms an opaque sheet can get in the way. According to the CDC, almost 32% of all births in America are C-sections. In Canada, the rate is just under 29%, and the UK sees a similar rate. A 2018 Instagram poll by Motherly found about 41% of participants had given birth via C-section.

So there's potential to help a lot of mothers feel more at ease in the OR. The gentle cesarean method isn't just about letting mama see her baby earlier, it's also about letting her bond with her baby sooner.

Gentle Cesareans are also about respecting that this isn't just a surgery, it is a birth, too. "When it's time for the baby to be born, the doctors help ease the baby out slowly—head, shoulder, abdomen, and then legs—much like what happens in a vaginal birth. Skin-to-skin bonding is often done right in the OR, and sometimes breastfeeding can even be initiated there too," says Spalding.

The gentle C-section lets mama be present 

Some people don't want clear drapes, but for other mothers, the clear drapes are a way for them to experience their birth from the vantage point they imagined for the life-changing moment. "With the clear drape, the woman has the ability to look down and actually watch her baby be born (don't worry—she won't be able to see much of the actual surgery because her belly will be in the way)," Spalding explains.

Because of the angle mothers aren't getting a close-up look at the surgical part of the procedure, so clear drape cesareans aren't as gory as some would assume. It's really more similar to how a vaginal birth happens in that mom is not seeing everything the doctors are, but is able to see her baby as soon as possible, and that is something to smile about.

C-section births are births and need to be respected 

A gentle Cesarean is a more holistic approach to a standard C-section because it brings the focus back on mom as a person, not as a belly in need of surgery. Often, medical teams try to make gentle C-sections as family-focused as possible, and sometimes are even able to accommodate parts of a mother's birth plan that would be abandoned with a traditional C-section, like incorporating music or other therapeutic, relaxing elements.

It's about making the operating room as pleasant a place as possible and respecting mom.

Gentle Cesareans still happen without the clear drapes

Sometimes, for medical reasons, hospital policy or because mama requests it, the clear drapes are not an option. But that doesn't mean that mom can't have a gentle Cesarean. Even with traditional blue drapes, medical teams are making efforts to help mama and baby bond as soon as possible.

Sometimes, that means there's a little window in the sheet and baby gets passed through to mom for instant skin-to skin-contact. Other times, it looks different, depending on medical need.

We love how mothers and birth photographers are sharing these stories and photos because one thing is as clear as the drapes: C-sections are just as beautiful as every other kind of birth.

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When kids enter puberty we warn them about the change. We tell them their bodies are changing and that it's normal and natural and they're beautiful just as they are. But when women become mothers and their bodies—and brains—change, we are not offered the same affirmations and comfort as adolescents. Society tells children to accept the ways their bodies stretch, grow and shift to carry them through adulthood, but it tells the women who carry these children in their own bodies to fight change at all costs.

Luckily, that is changing. Women are standing up and saying what society should have been telling us all along: Yes, motherhood changes your body, but that change is beautiful.

And now, in a brilliant move that is both excellent marketing and empowering, hundreds of women are putting their postpartum bodies on display. The act is a powerful statement to themselves and to other mothers: Our bodies are meant to evolve and change, and you are normal and natural and beautiful just as you are.

Knix is selling underwear, but the brand is also creating real change with a project called The Life After Birth Project, which saw 250 photos of real moms exhibited in an NYC gallery before rolling into Knix's hometown, Toronto, Canada, this week.

The photos are refreshingly real and exactly what women need to see in 2019.

The Life After Birth Project shows the beauty and reality of postpartum healing 

One of the most damaging myths about postpartum recovery is that it is quick. It isn't. It actually takes about six to eight weeks for the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. The bump doesn't instantly disappear because it took 9 months to grow. A mother's body needs time to heal after birth, whether it was a vaginal delivery or a C-section, but too many mothers aren't given that time.

In the United States, so many working moms are back at their job within five weeks of giving birth, and even if paid work isn't a factor, unpaid labor and family obligations can have mothers doing too much too soon.

As Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor and Birth Expert, has said, "You would never expect someone to clean their house a few days after having surgery, or to run errands when they are getting over the flu—so why do we expect ourselves to snap out of giving birth? Pregnancy and birth are not ailments, but they are the real deal. Be gentle on yourself, and allow your body to heal."

Mothers should not be embarrassed by their changing bodies 

A recent survey found more than a third of women (37%) felt embarrassed by what their body was going through after birth. This is not okay, and it is why we need more projects like the The Life After Birth Project and more companies doing what Knix is doing.

That is why celebrities like Jillian Harris, pictured above, stepped up and shared photos of their own postpartum experiences for the Life After Birth project.

Yes, Jillian is wearing mesh panties and a giant pad in the above photo. But that's part of the journey and nothing to be embarrassed about.

We need to see our stories represented and know that this is normal.

More photos from #LifeAfterBirth

Four pregnancies in four years. This mama has been through so much and has some serious advice: "I wish our always busy culture recognized it more and gave new mothers patience and grace."

So do we Amy, so do we.

See the gallery in person

The Life After Birth Project is currently in Toronto but the next stop is Los Angeles on October 24.

The gallery will keep touring the US, too.

Stops are planned in Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Denver, Minneapolis. if you want to submit your own photos, tag @lifeafterbirthproject on Instagram and use the hashtag #LifeAfterBirth, or email your photos to lifeafterbirth@knix.com.

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Getting kids back into a school year sleep routine is hard work. There were so many reasons for kids to stay up over the summer, like fireworks, campfires and the fact that the sun itself has been staying up so late.

Incrementally later bedtimes happen slowly over the summer, and at this time of year, parents are looking to reset the clock fast. But when you're six years old and you've spent the last couple months basically living a life of Saturdays, it might take some convincing to get you under the covers early.

Enter the Disney Bedtime Hotline. From September 16 to 30 parents in the United States and Canada can call 1-877-7-MICKEY at bedtime and a Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars character will tell your kids to go to bed.

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Mickey, Spider-Man, Yoda, Elsa, Princess Jasmine, Woody and other beloved characters are on the line, waiting to tell kids a little story before bed .

The Disney bedtime hotline may sound silly, but getting kids back into a bedtime routine (especially when they've grown used to staying up as late as the summer sun) is serious business.

According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, school-age kids need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night, and when summer ends, kids no longer have the option of sleeping in a bit on weekdays. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine goes even further, recommending between 9 and 12 hours of sleep for kids 6 to 12 years old. Kids 3 to 5 years old should sleep 10 to 13 hour (including naps).

"Among three to five-year-olds, lack of sleep is associated with memory consolidation and language development difficulties, and with a lesser quality of life," said Wendy Hall, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine panel that made those recommendations explained after their release.

"Children aged five to 12 years who get less than nine hours of sleep have significantly increased odds of obesity," Hall, a sleep specialist and nursing professor at the University of British Columbia continued.

"Sleep routines are critical for kids of all ages. Reading a book, telling a story, singing a song, or getting into a toothbrush routine help kids settle into sleep better," she explained. "Banning electronic devices from the bedroom also helps."

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a five-year-old who starts school at 8:00am (and needs an hour or so to get ready, eat and commute) should be going to bed at 8 or 9:00pm.

If your child's school starts early, or they have a long bus or car ride to get to school, you may have to call Mickey even earlier.

Thanks for the help, Disney.

[A version of this post was originally published August 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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