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Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

In challenging situations, our frustration and/or overwhelm seems to bubble over, clouding any cohesive sentence structure we might have put together. The pressure is on, we need to “use our words," but all we can muster is a non-verbal utterance resembling something like a cross between a growl and a guttural sigh.

I find that in these really challenging moments, it helps for parents to have a few familiar and effective phrases in our back pocket. Words that have already been carefully selected before we lost our minds.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. "At the same time…"

Using the word "but" can complicate already tense conversations. Often seen as negating whatever came before, it can create confusion and hurt feelings. The phrase, "I love you, but…" or "I'm sorry, but…" comes off as "I love you, but not enough," or "I'm sorry, but not really."

Instead, use the phrase, "at the same time". This phrase validates both what comes before and after as coexisting.

"I love you. At the same time, I can't let you hurt other people."I'm sorry you're upset. At the same time, running away isn't safe."

2. “I need you to…/You need to…"

One of the biggest invitations for power struggles comes when we make our requests sound optional. We say things like, "Are you ready for lunch?" or "How about we get you dressed?" or "Do you want to pick up your toys?"

Those phrases are great IF we actually mean to give our child those choices. When we don't, we need to be more clear. "You need to come to lunch, please." "I need you to get dressed, please." "You need to pick up your toys, please."

3. “I see…."

"I see two children who both want the same toy."
"I see you look very upset…"

Stating your observations as you come upon a problem helps to prevent you from placing blame or making assumptions. And that keeps everyone more open to problem-solving because you're starting from a place of trying to understand, rather than trying to place blame.

Simply start by describing what you see in a completely nonjudgmental way. Then invite the children to help you fill in the rest.

4. “Tell me about…"

Similar to #3, the key to this phrase is not assuming. Whether you're trying to understand what's going on in a tiff between friends, or curious about the work going on in a painting or block structure, it's better to ask for the child's input rather than jump to assumptions.

"Tell me about your picture…" works better than "What a lovely bear!" (especially when the bear was actually a dog.) "Tell me about what happened…" works better than jumping right in with, "I can't believe you hit her!" (especially when the hitting was preceded by 2 hours of taunting.)

5. “I love to watch you…"

This is a great phrase to keep at the ready for every day, proactive relationship building (which always pays off when times get tough). It's a phrase I learned from my friend, Rachel Macy Stafford, and have used it countless times since.

Simply letting a child know that you are watching them and enjoying them can go a long way in building their positive self-perception. Sometimes the best thing we can do to motivate good behavior and build good relationships is simply to notice the wonderful good that already exists.

"I love watching you play with your brothers." "I love listening to you play the piano." "I love to watch you build with your legos."

It's a simple phrase that lets a child know we notice them, while at the same time reminding us to slow down enough to be noticers.

6. “What do you think you could do…."

As experienced problem-solvers ourselves, it can be tempting to swoop right in and fix every problem. But it's important that we give kids ownership of and practice with the problem-solving process.

(Read more about teaching the problem-solving process here. )

"What do you think you could do to help your sister feel better?" "What do you think you could do to make things right with your friend?" "What do you think you could do to make sure everyone gets a turn?" "What do you think you could do to take care of this spill?"

Notice that children are not only invited to come up with a proposed solution, but to own it. "What do YOU think YOU could do…"

7. “How can I help…"

Similarly, there are times when a child clearly needs our help, but we want to be sure we help, not rescue. We want to offer our abilities without taking away their responsibilities. "How can I help you with this broken glass?" "How can I help you clean your room?" "How can I help you understand your homework?"

8. “What I know is…"

There are times when our kids tell us things we KNOW are not true. But when we jump to, "That's a lie!", they typically shut down or become defensive.

Whether it's lying, magical thinking, or a complete misunderstanding, we can avoid an argument or an overreaction by calmly starting with what we know.

"What I know is that there were four cookies on the plate when I left." "What I know is that toys can't move by themselves." "What I know is that Jesse's mom wasn't home today."

9. “Help me understand…"

Similarly, inviting a child to help you understand, is less accusatory than "explain yourself". It communicates that you don't understand, but you WANT to.

"Help me understand how this got here." "Help me understand what happened."

10. “I'm sorry…"

Kids aren't always the ones making the mistakes in these difficult situations. Sometimes our imperfections are the best starting point for important learning opportunities.

When we apologize for our shortcomings, we model how to make appropriate apologies, but also teach our children that we all make mistakes. When they see us acknowledge and apologize, they learn that they can do the same. Additionally, when we repair our relationships, we make them stronger.

11. “Thank you…"

Along with all the hard situations, we have to acknowledge the great ones (or even a great sliver of a really hard day). Just like we want to know our hard work is appreciated every day, our children want to know that their effort is noticed as well.

"Thank you for packing your lunch this morning." "Thank you for being such a respectful listener." "Thank you for helping your sister." Even, "Thank you for doing your jobs. I know you wanted to do other things first. (Unspoken: Because you threw a big fit beforehand.) I really appreciate you doing it even though it was hard."

12. " I love you…"

With all the words we search for, these three should come easily and frequently. With our words and with our actions, our kids should know that through thick and thin, we ALWAYS love them.

In all that I've read and studied about child development, I find that I come back again and again to two truths:

1. All learning and development happen in the context of human relationships.

2. Healthy human relationships, particularly in families, are built on unconditional love.

Before, during and after our most challenging situations with our kids, we should convey to them that they are always safe and loved, no matter what.

Love can compensate for all kinds of parenting mistakes. Even when we can't find the right words, or when those words just don't come out like they should. When they come from a place of love, and when that love is consistently made clear, we eventually find our way back together.

Original story by Amanda Morgan for notjustcute.com.

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When you become a mama, your definition of a smooth morning undergoes a complete evolution. Now, you consider it a win if your real alarm wakes you up and you get to drink coffee while it's still warm. The not-so-smooth mornings? Well, let's face it, that's a rough way to start the day.

When the wake-up call comes early and the coffee has been forgotten in the microwave, it may seem absolutely impossible to carve out any time for yourself. But a centered, confident mama is a happier mama, and there are some simple ways to sneak self-care into your morning to ensure you're putting your best face forward.

Specializing in quick, easy and (we must say) beautiful morning makeup routines, Woosh Beauty understands busy mornings, and has created an 'everything-in-one' makeup palette that is our new secret weapon for feeling like we made the effort to center ourselves, too.

Inspired by Woosh Beauty, here are five ways we've given our morning beauty routines a self-care makeover.

1. Make time (and space) for calm

As moms, time is priceless and that's especially true in the morning. Even if you're racing against the clock, it's worth it (trust us) to hit the pause button for just five minutes before tackling all the to-dos on your list.

With The Fold Out Face from Woosh Beauty, you have all the makeup you need (coverage and color) in one compact, portable palette. That means no scrambling to find your concealer. No opening, closing, then reopening and closing eyeshadows and powders.

Most importantly, no need to set up shop in front of your vanity/bathroom mirror/designated makeup space while keeping one eye on a constantly moving child. The Fold Out Face goes wherever you go and gives you everything you need in the flip of one flap—so you really can focus on yourself.

2. Create rituals that boost confidence

Even if you're going on your third day with the same yoga pants (they're so comfy!), it's important to make time in the morning to do something that will put a confident pep in your step.

While makeup has likely been part of your routine for years, motherhood can take a toll on your skin in new ways—which is why having 13 full-sized cosmetics, made from luxurious high-performing mineral-based formulas, allows you to erase the appearance of under-eye circles, perfect any imperfections and give yourself an effortless glow—all in less than five minutes.

So even if you don't have time to meticulously apply makeup, you can look and feel like you did. 😉

3. Allow our minds to drift 

For most of us, mornings mean going from zero to 60 in about five seconds flat. Before fully immersing yourself in the obligations of the day, it's nice to have just a few minutes to allow your mind to drift away from the to-do list. Woosh Beauty makes having mindspace while checking off "put on makeup" possible by numbering the order in which the cosmetics in The Fold Out Face should be applied.

4. Savor little luxuries

Before you go spend the morning driving kids around to the tune of nursery rhymes and eat a lunch of PB&J crusts, it can make a world of difference to your outlook to lavish in something that is all yours.

We love that Woosh Beauty makes that simple with The Essential Brush Set, a luxe collection of double-ended brushes that are numbered to correspond with the steps in the Fold Out Face, and come in a soft storage bag to keep them away from kids who may mistake them as paint brushes.

5. Be kinder to ourselves

Sometimes, a healthy self-voice for the rest of the day starts with rituals that remind us we're doing good for our bodies, too. By using Woosh Beauty products in your morning beauty routine, which are free of parabens, sulfates, gluten and fragrance—not to mention they are animal cruelty-free—you aren't just applying makeup, you're applying products and using tools that you can feel good about.

In the morning, a seemingly little thing like taking a few minutes for self-care is really a big thing that will continue to pay off with a beautiful outlook throughout the day—and with The Fold-Out Face from Woosh Beauty, it pays off with a beautiful look throughout the day, too.

Motherly readers can receive a 20% discount site wide using the code MOTHERLY at checkout.


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

No pregnancy and birth are exactly the same. Each of us has a unique story, and so do our babies. As Hilary Duff proves, a mother's second birth story isn't a just a rerun of her first.

Motherhood changes people, and for Duff welcoming her second child, daughter Banks, at age 31 was a very different experience than birthing her son, Luka, when she was 24. She went from a hospital to a home birth she explains in a two part interview for the Informed Pregnancy podcast.

And although Duff admits that at some points in her home birth she was scared and asked herself why she wasn't in a hospital "with all the drugs," she says she's so glad she did it and would totally do it again.

She's opened up about how she came to want a home birth, what surprised her about it and what helped her during her labor—and it's quite a birth story.

Looking back

During her first pregnancy, Duff says she started out wanting an elective C-section. She was 23 when she and ex-husband Mike Comrie found out they were expecting, and she didn't have a lot of peers who were having kids.

Her mom had C-sections for Duff and her siblings, and Duff thought that's what she would do, too. But in her second trimester she decided that she would try delivering first. She had an epidural for Luka's birth but he was born without a C-section.

More than five years later, during her pregnancy with Banks, Duff watched Ricki Lake's 2008 documentary "The Business of Being Born" and started considering a different kind of birth plan the second time around.

"I just started thinking that I wanted a different experience," Duff tells the host of Informed Pregnancy, prenatal chiropractor, childbirth educator and labor doula Dr. Elliot Berlin.

"I'm older now. I love motherhood more than anything—I never thought I would be this way, I never thought I could be so happy and so fulfilled. It's not easy, because being a parent is not easy, but it's just a joy. And I thought to myself that I want to like fully get the full experience of what it is like to bring a baby into the world."

Having support from Matt, Haylie and her mom

When Duff brought the idea up with her partner, Matthew Koma, he "was amazing," she explains. He had some questions, but was down to support Duff in her birthing choices.

Duff says she thinks her mom Susan and sister Haylie were "nervous to think about not being in a hospital" at first, but once Duff explained things a bit and got to talk to them about her doula and midwives, Haylie got really pumped about the idea.

"She was so supportive and amazing. I think my mom was a little more worried but she got behind me," Duff recalls, adding that because her mom had C-sections herself, even seeing Duff deliver Luka vaginally in a hospital was a bit of a different experience for her, so being there for the home birth was taking things to an unfamiliar level.

"The first time she saw me having a contraction in the house she was cooking bacon for Luka," Duff explains, adding that she had to pause the conversation she was having and squat down during the contraction.

"My mom was like, 'Oh no, oh no, oh no' and I was like, 'Mom, you can't do that all day...She got used to it. She's my mom and just having the comfort your mom brings was important to me."

Having her mom and her sister there was important to Duff, who was able to labor upstairs (where Koma had dragged the birthing pool out of Luka's room, where it had been temporarily used as a trampoline, and got it set up in Duff's room) when she needed to and then come downstairs to chill with her mom, sister and son when she could.

Even though she started feeling the contractions in the middle of the night, she still wasn't in active labor by the time her mom was cooking bacon for Luka in the morning.

"I think that was the most surprising part for me, thinking that it was going to progress a lot faster than it did and it just didn't," she explains, adding that at one point she went back downstairs and her son was watching a Marvel movie on TV.

"When I pictured my birth I didn't picture watching Guardians of the Galaxy on TV. Luka was like explaining the characters to me," she explains.

Her birth team 

Duff's partner, son, sister and mother weren't the only ones in the house with her the day Banks was born. She had a doula, a birth photographer who is also a doula and three midwives. "I definitely got through some contractions alone," says Duff "[But] I needed a tribe of people.

Her people helped her in the moments when things got really scary. Like when she worried she wasn't progressing fast enough, or when the pain was intense.

Duff found squatting, sitting on a birthing ball, and using a heating pad were all helpful at different points in the process. "Also some oils, I smelled a lot of clary sage oil and that felt really good," she explains. "I don't know why it felt really good to me."

What didn't feel good was being told to relax. "Any time someone would tell me to relax I felt like I would punch them in the face," she says, adding that Koma used the phrase one too many times.

"He was like, 'just relax babe', and I was like 'you're gonna die if you say that'!"

At the suggestion of one of her midwives, Duff started imagining herself melting into the bed with each contraction, and found that was helpful, too.

And although her contractions never got as long or as close together as her team expected them to, one of her midwives eventually gave her the good news that she was progressing.

"She looks at me and she's like, 'you want to go get in the tub?' and I just started crying," Duff recalls. "It was such a happy moment."

In the tub

Duff says when she was moved to the birthing tub, her brain really let her body take over. After the birth she estimated she was in the tub for about 30 minutes, but Koma told her it was really more like 90. "My brain disconnected," she says. "I remember telling myself that I don't need to be here for all of this."

At one point, she looked at one of her midwives and said, 'I'm really scared right now." Exhausted and unable to hold her body up as she channelled all her energy into pushing, Duff let her team hold her legs and arms while she pushed.

Having a baby

When Banks' head emerged, it didn't feel quite like the birth videos Duff has seen.

"Honestly, when I got her head out I was shocked by the feelings," she told Dr. Berlin. "I've seen women reach down and pull their baby out, and I couldn't do that…I was like, okay I'm there, I'm there, I've got to finish this job, but it was like really intense. It wasn't pleasant at that point. I think I wasn't fully in my headspace, my body was doing what it needed to do. It wasn't until her body came out that I could like want to grab onto her and bring her up out of the water."

Baby Banks needed some breaths from a midwife when she was first pulled from the water, but because her son Luka was also born looking a little blue, Duff says she wasn't freaked out. Once she figured out how to breathe, little Banks did "the most amazing thing," her mama recalls.

"They hand her to me, and I'm looking at her—and you know, babies are like floppy little worms, they just don't have any control—and she reaches up both of her arms right at my neck as to give me a hug. It was so clearly a hug."

Duff says the hug made her feel like baby Banks was saying something: "Like, good [teamwork] mom, we did it."

After the birth, Duff's team made her a smoothie using a chunk of raw placenta (a practice that the CDC recommends against, but many women choose to partake in).

She says she's not trying to push her choices on anyone else, and that she wants mothers to feel supported in whatever choices they make for themselves. "It's a very personal choice and it's not for everyone, that's for sure, she says.

Duff says that although she was at times overwhelmed and scared, she's so happy that Banks' birth story unfolded at home, and she would do it all over again.

To hear the whole interview, check out the Informed Pregnancy podcast.

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The moment you put your Christmas tree up, something changes in your home. Everything is a little more magical and it's a reminder that the holidays are finally here—but getting that tree is another story, especially with littles running around.

Packing the family up and heading to a Christmas tree farm sounds exciting, but it's not always feasible during this busy season.

Amazon to the rescue. You can now order *real* Christmas trees to your door from the comfort of your couch, compliments of family-owned tree farms. Shipping starts next week so grab your preorder before it sells out.

Here are some of their options:

1. 3-4 Foot Sno-Tip Black Hills Spruce

Hallmark Real Christmas Tree, Amazon, $59.99

BUY

4. 10-12 inch Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Costa Farms Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, Amazon, $22.99

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Do you feel it?

That little spark ✨ in the air that only comes around this time of the year is starting to buzz and pop around us. There's nothing quite like the joy and excitement that comes with counting down to the holidays—especially with your kids who think last Christmas was forever ago.

And what better way to count down to Christmas than with an Advent calendar? We've rounded up a dozen of our favorites that you can use year after year.

Here's to new traditions!

1. Beautifully modern 

The numbered ornaments on this "tree" slides down all the way to the bottom as you check off each day.

Advent Calendar Sliding Wood Tile Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia, Target, $29.99

BUY

2. Wooden classic 

This beautiful calendar is a showpiece. It lights up to create a cozy and festive scene.

Clever Creations Traditional Wooden Christmas Advent Calendar, Amazon, $54.99

BUY

3. Kindness calendar 

The holidays are all about giving—and that doesn't stop with just material items. We can give in the form of kindness every single day, and this calendar helps us do just that.

My Kindness Advent Calendar, $75.00

BUY

4. Wonderfully minimalist 

We love how super simple this fabric hanging calendar is. Tuck a treat inside each pocket for extra fun.

Advent Calendar Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia, Target, $24.99

BUY

5. Santa’s delivery truck

Add a touch of whimsy with this sweet delivery truck featuring Santa and a snowman.

Northlight 14" Children's Advent Calendar Red Storage Truck Christmas Decoration, Target, $42.89

BUY

6. Happy snowman 

All the joy of a snowman without the frozen fingers.

18" Snowman Advent Calendar, Target, $18.99

BUY

7. Their very own tree 

Your kids can pick the ornament of their choice, as they decorate their very own tree each day.

Melissa & Doug® Countdown to Christmas Wooden Advent Calendar, Target, $17.99

BUY

8. Stocking garland

We love the twist on a traditional calendar with this sweet garland of 24 stockings.

Northlight 8' Blue and Gray Christmas Socks Advent Calendar Garland, Target, $29.69

BUY

9. Super simple display 

This one is no fuss, no muss.

Advent Calendar Wooden Stand - Threshold™, Target, $29.99

BUY

10.  Treasure boxes 

Tuck treasures inside each day for your littles to discover.

Holiday Treasure Box Christmas Countdown, Amazon, $19.99

BUY

11.  Santa's countdown 

We love the sweet little candy cane you can use to track each of the days on this Santa calendar.

Countdown to Christmas Plush Santa Advent Calendar, Amazon, $12.99

BUY

12.  Reindeer banner 

Why does Santa get to have all the fun? With this sweet felt hanging, the reindeer gets to shine.

Good Ruby Advent Calendar for Kids, Amazon, $29.99

BUY

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Nameberry was born 10 years ago and to celebrate our 10th anniversary, we undertook an original analysis of baby name data from the Social Security Administration.

Our statistics identify:

  • Which girls' and boys' names were the hottest of the past decade
  • Which unisex names switched gender identities
  • Which international names have immigrated to the US
  • Which baby names will be most popular ten years from now
  • Which once-popular names are sailing toward extinction

Here are our original findings:

Most popular girls' names

The girls' names that increased the most in usage over the past decade include the surnames of a singing duo and a Golden Age screen siren, a sweet vintage name and new-fangled word names with elevated meanings.

  1. Everly
  2. Nova
  3. Adaline
  4. Paislee
  5. Harlow
  6. Royalty
  7. Henley
  8. Coraline
  9. Emberly
  10. Aitana

Most popular boys' names

The boys' names that have grown the most in usage over the past 10 years include the names of a Spanish footballer, a British Pakistani singer and a mythological strong man.

  1. Brantley
  2. Thiago
  3. Knox
  4. Jayceon
  5. Atlas
  6. Zayn
  7. Raylan
  8. Reyansh
  9. Huxley
  10. Brentley

10 names that switched genders

In a decade that brought transgender issues into the mainstream, many popular names switched from mostly female to mostly male or vice versa. Often the switch was inspired by a celebrity, such as Leighton Meester or Kyrie Irving, but that doesn't always work in the direction you guess it will.

Peyton, first popularized by football star Manning, and Lennon, the surname of Beatle John, have both swung toward the girls' side.

  1. Quinn – 28% to 80% girls
  2. Peyton – 45% to 77% girls
  3. Leighton – 27% to 74% girls
  4. Lennon – 20% to 65% girls
  5. Sutton – 26% to 64% girls
  6. Kyrie – 14% to 91% boys
  7. Raylan – 44% to 91% boys
  8. Bentlee – 32% to 84% boys
  9. Tru – 47% to 70% boys
  10. Milan – 36% to 64% boys

10 names that immigrated to the U.S.

This decade saw an explosion in online communication and an increasing globalization of everything from fashion to food to baby names.

Parents in the US have fallen in love with a range of names from around the world. Those whose usage have increased the most in the past 10 years, many inspired by international celebrities, include:

  1. Elowen +6450%
  2. Zendaya - +6350%
  3. Freya +741%
  4. Bodhi +736%
  5. Isla +481%
  6. Mateo +450%
  7. Gunnar +385%
  8. Saoirse +232%
  9. Cillian +229%
  10. Magnus +205%

Top 10 girls' names of 2028

Our analysis of the Social Security data also includes exclusive statistical projections of future baby name popularity, with calculations of the Top 1000 Baby Names of 2028.

We created an algorithm that analyzes each name's past popularity trajectory and projects its rank going forward, to help parents gauge the trendiness of the names they're considering.

Here, our predicted "Top 10 Names for Girls" 10 years from now, which include three new names, marked with an asterisk.

  1. Charlotte
  2. Amelia
  3. Harper*
  4. Emma
  5. Olivia
  6. Evelyn
  7. Mia
  8. Aria*
  9. Ava
  10. Sofia*

Top 10 boys' names of 2028

In a departure from patterns of the past, we see boys' names changing more than girls' over the next decade,

Here, our projected "Top 10 for Boys of 2028" including seven new choices marked with asterisks.

  1. Liam
  2. Mateo*
  3. Maverick*
  4. Noah
  5. Lincoln*
  6. Lucas*
  7. Henry*
  8. Theodore*
  9. Jaxon*
  10. Oliver

10 classic names dominating the next decade

Sure, there are always the trendy invented names and the celebrity-inspired rising stars. But there are also a handful of classic names we project will increase dramatically in usage over the next decade.

Get ready for a new generation of babies with these 10 hot classic names.

  1. Anastasia
  2. Declan
  3. Eleanor
  4. Eloise
  5. Emmett
  6. Ezra
  7. Iris
  8. June
  9. Luca
  10. Silas

10 names on their way out

As new names take the stage, others must by necessity fade away. These 10 once-popular names have dropped precipitously in usage over the past 10 years and may be headed for extinction or at least the deep freeze.

.

  1. Ashlee
  2. Braeden and Braden
  3. Breanna
  4. Brenden and Branden
  5. Isis
  6. Jaydon, Jadon, Jadyn, Jaden, and Jaidyn
  7. Devon and Devin
  8. Kaitlin, Caitlin, and Caitlyn
  9. Rachael
  10. Shannon and Sean

Originally posted on Nameberry.

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