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An A-Z of the things we should teach our daughters

Raising girls is a special kind of challenge which in my book, requires a certain mindfulness–we only need to look at all the problems girls of anxiety, body image issues and peer pressure girls seem to be drowning in today to know that. So what are the things that we, as parents, should teach our daughters? You know what they say: It takes a village to raise a child. So I’ve called on my village of parenting bloggers to put together this list of things we should teach our daughters to be, not be, have or do.


A for ADVENTUROUS

Grasp opportunities with both hands and “have a go.” Be brave. Be careful. Be safe. – Pack the PJs

B for BEAUTY

Beauty lies within. You can use products and potions to alter your appearance but it’s what’s inside that counts. And your inner beauty will always radiate out of your face like sunbeams, no matter what. – Babies And Beauty

C for CONFIDENCE

As much as we can’t teach it, we can help to instill it within them. Being confident within themselves can help massively later on. – Life With Boys

and CONSENT

And that what consent truly means and that they can say no. – Just Average Jen

D for DREAM

Dream–then turn them into goals and reality! – Living Life Our Way

and DIGNITY

It is a sense of self-worth, as human beings we have a right to dignity and it allows you to be respected. Dignity and respect helps people to feel a sense of importance and worthiness. – Raw Childhood

E for EQUALITY

They can do anything boys can do—although my daughter will only do it wearing pink! – Whinge Whinge Wine

F for FERTILITY

We need to teach our girls how important it is to know what our body is saying. Welcome our monthly flow with appreciation and open arms. Know how to take basal temperature, understanding cervical mucus. Knowing what it all means. Knowing about reusable sanitary pads, tampons and moon cups. Loving and knowing your body so that you are not grossed out about the blood that we release. – Hacking Parenthood

G for GUTS

Don’t be afraid to be gutsy and speak up when you see something that’s wrong happening. – Pondering Parenthood

H for HEALTH

It is so important to take care of your own health. Otherwise you can not take care of others. And much of the learned health behaviour comes from childhood–food preferences, exercise habits and the understanding of oneself. –Wave to Mummy

I for INDEPENDENCE

Independence–while having a support network around you is fantastic. There will be times when you have to stand on your own two feet. You will need to know how change a light bulb/plug/tire, etc. – Boo Roo and Tigger Too

and INCLUSION

In a world that can at times be divisive, stand up for others, look out for the vulnerable members of society and include them, lift others, collaborate. – Living Life Our Way

K for KINDNESS

Especially towards ourselves as females. It’s so important to be kind and caring, and have empathy in general, but a lot of women forget to also put themselves first and make some time for self-care. – Scandi Mummy

L for LIFT EACH OTHER UP

Another girl’s success doesn’t take anything away from you. Be happy for her, celebrate from her and learn from her. Don’t waste your time on jealousy and comparison. You’ll achieve more lifting each other up than putting each other down. – Nomi Palony

and LOVE

Love what you do, love one another and love yourself. – Counting to Ten

M for MANNERS

Manners are sadly lacking in some children today. “Please” and “thank you” never hurt anyone and in fact go a long way. – Wishful Wonderings

and MONEY

It’s important for them to have a healthy relationship with money and know how to earn it, grow it and save it. It’s also important for them to know while money can buy you stuff and give you more choices, that stuff doesn’t make us happy. In fact a more minimalist approach generally makes us happier. Teaching them that all the toys in the world would only give them very temporary happiness. – Kirsty Dee

N for NEVER BE DEPENDENT

Learn to be independent. To do things for yourself and not have to depend on others. This will help them to become strong, confident and knowledgable. – Twin Mummy and Daddy

O for OPTIMISM

I always try and teach my daughter to be positive and optimistic about anything and everything she tries to achieve. – All About A Mini Norris

P for PASSION

Put passion in everything you do. If you aren’t passionate about something then look for something you are passionate about. – Mummy In a Tutu

and PLUCKING!

As mothers we should teach are daughters to put down the tweezers and go to a salon. Over-plucked eyebows at a young age sometimes never fully recover! Let’s create a generation of women with fabulous natural brows. – Kerry Shaw Mummy of Four

and also PERFECT

That you’re perfect. Just the way you are. If someone bullies or is mean, that’s their problem and not yours. You’re great. Look after you and treat people how you wish to be treated. Things I wish my mum had said to me rather than “you change.” – We Forgot The Sperm

Q for QUESTION

Question everything. Don’t just accept or believe what you’re told. Make your own mind up in your own time and be proud of what you believe. – And Another Ten Things

R for RESILIENCE

There will be knock backs in life, but get right back up and do it again. – Emma and 3

S for SEXISM

Expect it because it’s not going anywhere just yet. I don’t have a daughter but I will be teaching my son not to be sexist. – Mumzilla

S for the SANDWICH CRITICISM

Forget “never saying anything negative,” but always counterbalance it with two good points, either side of the negative to offer constructive advice or criticism. – I Am Typecast

T for TRUST

Trust your own instincts and be able to stand your own ground. Also find someone to trust who you can confide in for whatever reason. It’s always good to have one person you can talk to about anything! – Mama Wilkos

U for UNIQUENESS

That being unique is far more important than fitting in with the crowd. – Five Little Doves

V for VERY AUTONOMOUS

Learn practical skills and learn to do things for yourself, to fix things, to understand how things work. Because you CAN do it all, you don’t need a man to fix things for you!! – The Ish Mother

W for WEIGHT

It’s important to stay healthy, but weight is zero indication of that. The scales teach you nothing apart from how to obsess about a number which means very little. Do you get out of breath running for the bus? If so you need to exercise more? Is food on your plate colorful? Does it make you feel good? No? Then improve it. – Sprog On The Tyne

and WORK ETHIC

There is nothing you can’t achieve and nothing you cannot do. If you want something then go for it. The sky’s the limit, not your gender. – Babies and Beauty

X for X-PERIENCE

Live life to the fullest you can, because it is the sum of all your experiences that makes you the person you are, and experiencing life is good for you! – Motherhood: The Real Deal

Y for YOURSELF

Be yourself–not what someone else wants you to be. – My Boys Club

Z for ZAZZ YOUR SELF ESTEEM

It’s so important to feel comfortable and confident in your own skin. It’s something I constantly struggle with and have done since I was young. I hope to be able to help my daughter to strive for a high self esteem. She’s such a strong willed and opinionated little girl and I can only hope she stays that way and doesn’t let the world knock her down as she gets older –Even Angels Fall

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Unstructured play is play without predetermined rules of the game. There are no organized teams, uniforms, coaches or trainers. It is spontaneous, often made-up on the spot, and changeable as the day goes on. It is the kind of play you see when puppies chase each other around a yard in endless circles or a group of kids play for hours in a fort they created out of old packing boxes.

Unstructured play is fun—no question about it—but research also tells us that it is critically important for the development of children's bodies and brains.

One of the best ways to encourage unstructured play in young children is by providing open-ended toys, or toys that can be used multiple ways. People Toy Company knows all about that. Since 1977, they've created toys and products designed to naturally encourage developmental milestones—but to kids, it all just feels like play.

Here are five reasons why unstructured play is crucial for your children—

1. It changes brain structure in important ways

In a recent interview on NPR's Morning Edition, Sergio Pellis, Ph.D., an expert on the neuroscience of play noted that play actually changes the structure of the developing brain in important ways, strengthening the connections of the neurons (nerve cells) in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain considered to be the executive control center responsible for solving problems, making plans and regulating emotions.

Because unstructured play involves trying out different strategies without particular goals or serious consequences, children and other animals get to practice different activities during play and see what happens. When Dr. Pellis compared rats who played as pups with rats that did not, he found that although the play-deprived rats could perform the same actions, the play-experienced rats were able to react to their circumstances in a more flexible, fluid and swift fashion.

Their brains seemed more "plastic" and better able to rewire as they encountered new experiences.

Hod Lipson, a computer scientist at Cornell sums it up by saying the gift of play is that it teaches us how to deal with the unexpected—a critically important skill in today's uncertain world.

2. Play activates the entire neocortex

We now know that gene expression (whether a gene is active or not) is affected by many different things in our lives, including our environment and the activities we participate in. Jaak Panksepp, Ph.D., a Professor at the University of Washington studied play in rats earning him the nickname of the "rat tickler."

He found that even a half hour of play affected the activity of many different genes and activated the outer part of the rats' brains known as the neocortex, the area of the brain used in higher functions such as thinking, language and spatial reasoning. We don't know for sure that this happens in humans, but some researchers believe that it probably does.

3. It teaches children to have positive interaction with others

It used to be thought that animal play was simply practice so that they could become more effective hunters. However, Dr. Panksepp's study of play in rats led him to the conclusion that play served an entirely different function: teaching young animals how to interact with others in positive ways. He believed that play helps build pro-social brains.

4. Children who play are often better students

The social skills acquired through play may help children become better students. Research has found that the best predictor of academic performance in the eighth grade was a child's social skills in the third grade. Dr. Pellis notes that "countries where they actually have more recess tend to have higher academic performance than countries where recess is less."

5. Unstructured play gets kids moving

We all worry that our kids are getting too little physical activity as they spend large chunks of their time glued to their electronic devices with only their thumbs getting any exercise. Unstructured play, whether running around in the yard, climbing trees or playing on commercial play structures in schools or public parks, means moving the whole body around.

Physical activity helps children maintain a healthy weight and combats the development of Type 2 diabetes—a condition all too common in American children—by increasing the body's sensitivity to the hormone insulin.

It is tempting in today's busy world for parents and kids to fill every minute of their day with structured activities—ranging from Spanish classes before school to soccer and basketball practice after and a full range of special classes and camps on the weekends and summer vacation. We don't remember to carve out time for unstructured play, time for kids to get together with absolutely nothing planned and no particular goals in mind except having fun.

The growing body of research on the benefits of unstructured play suggests that perhaps we should rethink our priorities.

Not sure where to get started? Here are four People Toy Company products that encourage hours of unstructured play.

1. People Blocks Zoo Animals

These colorful, magnetic building blocks are perfect for encouraging unstructured play in children one year and beyond. The small pieces fit easily in the hands of smaller children, and older children will love creating their own shapes and designs with the magnetic pieces.

People Blocks Zoo Animals 17 Piece Set, People Toy Company, $34.99

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

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As any parent knows, newborns need to eat a lot to keep fuel in those tiny tummies. For breastfeeding mamas, that can translate to nursing sessions anywhere, any time of day—which can make it feel like a full-time job. So, what's a mama to do when she has other things on her to-do list?

Let's take a look at some celebrity mothers who are showing the world that mamas have legendary multitasking skills. 👊

Jessie James Decker is a backseat breastfeeder

By the time her third child was born, Jessie James Decker had a few tricks up her sleeve when it came to breastfeeding on the go—including how to get situated in the backseat of the car to nurse her son while he was strapped into the car seat.

Decker doesn't recommend mamas go without a seatbelt like she did, but sometimes, a bad day out with the baby calls for extreme measures. When little Forrest couldn't stop crying on the way home from his mama's photo shoot, his mama did what she had to do.

"I hopped in the back seat with Forrest and fed him with boob out leaned awkwardly over the car seat to calm him down," Decker says. "On the way home I cried, I got stressed and anxiety, and I was just a mom trying to do my best just like we all are no matter the situation."

Pink takes a hike

When son Jameson was a baby, Pink proved that breastfeeding didn't have to mean sitting at home in a glider. With some assistance from a baby carrier and a perfect position for Jameson, the multitasking mama was able to go about her hike like it was no big deal.

Gisele Bündchen 'grammed her breastfeeding glam session

In 2013, the super model proved she's also a super mama by multitasking a full-on beauty session while breastfeeding. Recognizing what a team effort it was, Bündchen captioned the post, "What would I do without this beauty squad after the 15 hours of flying and only three hours of sleep."

Tess Holliday was inspired by her fellow supermodel mama 

Tess Holliday followed in Gisele's footsteps after her youngest was born, posting this photo to Instagram. It that proves that breastfeeding mamas can not only multitask, but also don't have to conform to certain body ideals to look amazing postpartum. Any size, any shape, any time, anywhere—breastfeeding mothers like Holliday are normalizing breastfeeding and our bodies.

Padma Lakshmi proves you don't need a team

Without a beauty squad on call, Lakshmi took her multitasking to "level 💯" by using a nursing pillow to free up her two hands. It takes a brave woman to attempt mascara while breastfeeding, but the Top Chef host clearly pulls it off.

Whether a mama is trying to feed her baby on the go or while she's getting glam, it isn't always easy. Motherhood is about trying to do your best even when it feels like 100 things are going on at the same time—and yet we manage, like the super mamas we are.

[Update, September 23: This post was originally published June 12, 2018. It has been updated to include Tess Holliday's Instagram post]

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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So many parents wish there was a way we could add more hours to the day. Unfortunately, we're stuck with just 24 of them, but we can try to make the most of the time we've got. One way more and more working mamas are maximizing the time we do have is by cutting out the commute and working from home.

It can add an hour or two back to your day, and (depending on your hours and circumstances) it can even make childcare arrangements easier. And with more big companies offering legit remote opportunities, it's easier than ever for parents to find these opportunities. As Motherly recently reported, Amazon is on a bit of a remote hiring spree ahead of the holiday season, and it's not the only one.

Williams-Sonoma is currently seeking Seasonal Customer Service Associates to work from home. It is looking for remote workers in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Phoenix, Reno, Tulsa, and near Raleigh, Columbus, Braselton, and Oklahoma City.

These work-from-home positions are part of Williams-Sonoma's plan to hire about 3,500 associates for its Customer Care Centers. The company says a "significant portion of positions" for the Customer Care Centers will be work-from-home. They're looking for remote workers who live no more than an hour and a half away from one of the Customer Care Centers as "on occasion our Work From Home associates must come to the Care Center for meetings and training with advanced notice," the company notes in the job postings.


The positions are very similar to what Amazon is looking for: Basically customer service reps who can take inbound calls to help shoppers with orders, returns and issues with finding products or deliveries of products. Williams-Sonoma is looking for people who can work 30 - 50 hours per week, and the pay is listed at $12 per hour.

Another perk is a 40% discount on most merchandise, which great because the Williams-Sonoma umbrella includes brands like Pottery Barn and West Elm as well.

Sounds like this could be a great gig for a mama with customer service skills and a high-speed internet connection.

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Plenty of modern motherhood paraphernalia was made to be seen—think breastfeeding pillows that seamlessly blend into living room decor or diaper bags that look like stylish purses. The breast pump though, usually isn't on that list.

It's traditionally been used in the privacy of our homes and hotel rooms in the best case scenarios, and in storage closets and restrooms in the worst circumstances. For a product that is very often used by mothers because they need to be in public spaces (like work and school), the breast pump lives a very private life.

Thankfully, some high profile moms are changing that by posting their pump pics on Instagram. These influential mamas aren't gonna hide while they pump, and may change the way the world (and product designers) see this necessary accessory.

1. Gail Simmons 

Top Chef's Gail Simmons looked amazing on the red carpet at the 2018 Emmys, but a few days after the award show the cookbook author, television host and new mama gave the world a sneak peek into her backstage experience. It wasn't all glam for Gail, who brought her pump and hands-free bra along on the big night.

We're thankful to these women for showing that breast pumps belong in public and in our Instagram feeds.

[Update, September 21, 2018: This post was originally published on May 31, 2018, but has been updated to include a recent Instagram post by Gail Simmons.]

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  2. Behati Prinsloo shamed for 'pumping and dumping' during date with hubby Adam Levine
  3. Nicole Phelps pumping in an evening gown is the ultimate definition of a multi-tasking mama 👏
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