A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

Human potential is a wondrous thing.

From physical transformation to psychological development, our capacity to evolve and burst forth with new possibilities sneaks up on us as if by magic. This is evident as I watch my friends and family members reveal their shock as my kids become teenagers, “Wow, she is growing,” or “I can’t believe how tall she is now!” I love how growth seems to surprise us over and over again, honoring the wonderful mystery it represents.

Within our children lies dormant the potential for growth. The type of human potential I am referring to is not about academic achievements, social status or good behavior, individual talents or gifts.

It is about the potential for maturity and how they are meant to evolve as socially and emotionally responsible individuals.

As parents we look for signs that measure whether our kids are on track developmentally. Based on the maturation theory as synthesized by Gordon Neufeld, there are three vital signs that can help us take our children’s developmental pulse and consider how they are unfolding. Signs of good development include whether they are moving towards becoming a separate, social and adaptive beings.

Becoming a separate being

As a separate being, a child should be moving towards increasing independence and taking responsibility for decision making. They should be forming a sense of agency and steering confidently towards their own goals and ideas. Realizing one’s potential as a separate being means a child sees oneself as a unique being and will rarely be bored, will be full of vitality and is curious about the world around them.

Signs of becoming a separate being in a 3 or 4 year old includes being able to play on their own for short periods of time and sometimes getting upset by limits and restrictions imposed on them.

The more a child starts to grow and form their own intentions, the more frustrated they may become when they are thwarted and told no. A child at this age may show signs of wanting to do things for themselves such as getting dressed, be toilet trained and can readily tell you their own ideas and meaning about the world they see.

A post shared by Motherly (@mother.ly) on

As a child enters the middle years at around 8 to 11, they will have clearer preferences and ideas about what they like and who they are.

Their particular interests may start to take shape and they may make commitments towards particular activities. They will ideally be able to take more responsibility for household chores as well do their homework with little prompting. They enjoy having a little more freedom and being able to voice their ideas to those they trust.

The 14 to 15 year old who is developing as a separate being should ideally be OK with solitude and be able to fill their time with creative endeavours such as drawing, writing, painting, playing music or physical activity.

They should be able to form goals and steer towards them with confidence, for example, wanting to work harder to get better grades or learn a musical instrument. They may become frustrated with friends who are “copy cats” or who cheat in order to get ahead. The more a teen is in the process of becoming their own person, the more they will push against the ideas of others in order to make room for their own; in short, they become allergic to coercion.

Becoming an adaptive being

As a child unfolds as an adaptive being, they should show signs of being able to persist in the face of challenges. They should grow increasingly resourceful and resilient, and be able to overcome adversity. They are able to cope confidently with stress and can accept not getting their own way all the time. As adaptive beings, they are able to let go of their demands when proven to be futile. In other words, they can hear the word no and accept the consequences that come with this. Kids who are adaptive learn from their mistakes and also benefit from correction.

The 3 to 4 year old is in the throes of just starting to understand the limits and restrictions that are part of their world.

Tears are a common occurrence for many of them, especially when they are told no. With enough patience from their adults and walking them through their big feelings while facing limits, they should come to accept the futilities that are part of life—such as no cookies before breakfast and no running around naked while in public places.

A post shared by Motherly (@mother.ly) on

They are likely to erupt in aggression when frustrated given that the parts of their brain responsible for impulse control will not wire up until between the ages of 5 to 7, if development is unfolding well.

By the time a child reaches the ages of 8 to 11, they should show signs of being able to weather difficult events such as tests at schools or not winning their soccer game.

While they still may be frustrated with their mistakes, they are able to demonstrate more patience in the face of them not erupt with aggression each time. They should seem more resilient and resourceful as they accept the limits that are part of their life, even reminding younger children of the rules and restrictions. When it comes to school they are able to learn from their mistakes with enough care and patience, and can persist even when up against things that are more challenging for them.

As a child enters their adolescent years they may protest limits and restrictions as part of their growing appetite to emerge as a separate being.

By the time they are 14 to 15 years of age, they may struggle to hear no, especially if being pulled in a different direction by their peers and the culture around them. At this age it is important to still maintain a relationship while preserving limits that are required, for example, around technology use or rules for dating. By this age they should have had enough experience with things that are futile that they know better when to persist and when to be the one to change.

Becoming a social being

If we want our children to realize their potential as global citizens, then they will need to consider another person’s perspective while also holding on to their own point of view. Despite myriad of competing and contrasting views, they should be able to hold onto their identity, ideas, meanings, preferences and intentions. Being a social being means being able to cooperate, understand fairness and appreciate the context around them. It underlies healthy moral development and the capacity to use words to communicate thoughts and feelings.

A 3 or 4 year old is in the middle of developing a sense of identity so becoming a social being is not on their radar.

Personhood must come before community and so the focus of the young child is usually on themselves. While parents may worry that a young child is too self-absorbed, it was nature’s intentions that they must come to understand oneself first before being exposed to the views and perspectives of so many others.

Due to brains that are still under development, they often lack the capacity for patience and think fairness means getting their own way. They don’t mix well with others and it is quite natural for them to prefer their own company and to get lost in worlds of their own creation.

A post shared by Motherly (@mother.ly) on

As a child enters the years 8 to 11, they should be increasingly able to understand irony and paradox.

At last, knock-knock jokes start to make sense and they are more patient when frustrated. With ideal brain development they are now able to experience mixed feelings, being able to take into account someone’s perspective as well as their own. They may shown signs of true cooperation and consideration, as well as being able to act with courage. If development is unfolding well they should mix better with others and work towards solving problems and conflict. They should demonstrate more balance and stability in their emotional expression given their increased capacity to reflect and make sense of their experiences.

As a child enters into early adolescence they seem to take a step backwards and become more emotionally volatile or unpredictable. This is due to changes in the brain and their expanding consciousness which can flood them with experience and emotion.

By the time they are 14 to 15 years old, there is ideally some levelling out and emotional stability returns. They should start to show increasing signs of seeing the world not through a single perspective but being able to take into account multiple experiences and issues. The development of moral reasoning and awakening to a community larger than oneself will be underway with glimpses appearing in their statements or ideals. Their capacity for courage will allow them to steer confidently towards their goals.

By the time a child emerges from their teenage years they should be more fit for society and able to contribute back to it.

Our children’s selfhood cannot be taught or forced; it must be nurtured, cultivated, preserved and protected. The realization of human potential is about our capacity to evolve and transform as separate, adaptive and social beings. Within each of us lies dormant the promise of a mature future but it takes time, patience, understanding and good caretaking.

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, said it best idea when he claimed growth could only be made sense of in hindsight and not while it is unfolding. Within our kids is the promise of a mature future, one that adults in their life play midwife to.

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99


2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98


3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99


4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25


5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99


6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95


7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com


8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79


9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99


10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99


11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95


12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19


13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99


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

Our Partners

If you're about to be a parent, whether it's for the first time or not, then you've probably thought about all the changes in your life that are coming—especially in the area of finances. Having a baby alters your financial picture. If you take maternity or paternity leave, those changes can be even more pronounced.

If you have student loans in repayment, you may find it difficult to make monthly loan payment with a new baby, and you might be wondering how to make it work.

So how do you handle student loan payments while on maternity leave?

Here are the options available to student loan borrowers:

Family leave deferment

If you have a federal student loan, you can ask for a parental leave/working mother deferment, which offers you time without payments. Becoming a new mother isn't cause for an automatic deferment, like a job loss or serious illness, and so you'll have to work with your servicer directly to request this type of deferment. Navient, one of the largest federal loan servicers, offers information about this deferment on their website.

To be eligible, you'll need to either be pregnant or have a baby less than six months old. You must prove this via a birth certificate or doctor's statement confirming your pregnancy.

In addition, you cannot be working full-time or attending school during the deferment period. If you're hoping to ask for a deferment without taking the time off work, you'll find your request denied. The maximum length of a deferment is six months.


A forbearance allows you to either make a smaller payment or postpone payments completely. Like the deferment, you'll need to contact your servicer and request it. If it's approved, you can take some time off of your student loans while you're off work. Just be aware that even during forbearance, interest continues to accrue, which means your total balance will increase during that time.

Income-based repayment plan

If you'd prefer to keep making payments but just need the amount reduced, you can apply for a new income-based repayment plan. The Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan caps your monthly payment at 10% to 15% of your discretionary income. And since it's also based upon the size of your family, it will account for the fact that your family size has changed, and your discretionary income has decreased. To apply, contact your loan servicer.

Pay as you earn (PAYE) plan

Another option is the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan, which allows you to pay 10% of your income, but only up to the payment amount you would have paid on the standard plan. Because the income and family size are reassessed each year, this plan is great for growing families. It allows you to get a temporary reprieve with lower payments. Then, as you further your career and increase your income, your payment gets back on schedule. Your servicer can help get you set up with the PAYE plan. Your spouse's income is only counted if you file taxes as married jointly.

Revised pay as you earn (REPAYE) plan

Under the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan, you'll pay the same 10% of your income, with annual reassessment of your situation. You won't, however, get a break from counting your spouse's income. With REPAYE, all income counts regardless of how you file your taxes. The good news is that anything left on your balance will be forgiven after 20 years. Talk to your servicer to see if it's a good fit.

Income contingent-repayment (ICR) plan

The Income Contingent-Repayment (ICR) plan is either 20% of your discretionary income, or what you'd pay on a fixed repayment for 12 years, whichever is less. Just as in the other options, you must update your income and family size each year even if nothing changed. In addition, you may have to pay taxes on any amount that is forgiven because the government considers it income. It does, however, work on subsidized, unsubsidized, PLUS, and even consolidation loans, and can be applied for with your servicer.

Budgeting for a baby

There's no way around it—having a baby brings a lot of new expenses. From the things you'll need to buy before the baby comes, to the amount of diapers, bottles and other things your child will need in their first year, you'll need to figure out how much that will cost and how to correctly budget for it. Babycenter.com has a calculator that can help you break down what your child will cost in a given year. You can divide that number by 12 to understand the monthly costs.

Then, you'll want to identify where you can cut back, if possible, to continue meeting your monthly student loan obligations. For some, that might mean eating out less and bypassing the afternoon latte. For others, it'll require a full restructuring of the budget, especially if you plan to take maternity leave that's not fully paid. Since most maternity leaves are unpaid, you'll need to consider expenses, monthly bills, or other obligations that normally comes out of your paycheck and add those to the budget for the time that you're home.

After you get a handle on what your finances will look like and you have a functional budget, don't wait for your child to arrive before trying to live on that budget. In fact, the sooner you start cutting back, the better. That way, you can get a head start on saving, and you'll also be able to adjust any facets of your budget that prove unworkable.

The bottom line

Having a baby is a joyful experience. But caring for a newborn brings enough stress without the anxiety of how you'll pay student loans while you're on maternity or paternity leave. The best time to plan for your new family member is long before you bring them home. Take the time to talk to your servicer, make a budget and prepare your finances for your baby.

Originally posted on lendedu.

You might also like:

Learn + Play

Michael Bublé knows how to make music that makes us feel all the feels, and his viral lyric video for his song "Forever Now" proves it.

If you've got kids heading back to school, watch this at your own risk and with some tissues handy, mama.

Michael Bublé - Forever Now [Official Lyric Video] youtu.be

The video is a simple animation of a child's room as it transforms over time from a nursery to the packed-up bedroom of a young adult leaving the nest. We held it together until it got to this part: "It wasn't so long ago, we walked together and you held my hand. and now you're getting too big to want to."

The video reminds us of the classic children's book Love You Forever, and that the babies in our arms today will one day be in someone else's arms.

Right now, when our days are filled with bottle washing and shoe getting and making sure that no one falls asleep in their car seat the days sometimes feel so long, but Bublé's telling us something that we sometimes forget: One day we will be looking back and wondering why these long days went by so fast.

You might also like:


It would be easy to look at one of Tori Roloff's (of Little People, Big World) stunning maternity photos and think everything is going perfectly for the soon-to-be mother of two, who is expecting a baby girl with her husband Zach. But Tori is keeping it real: Though the photos may show her in a pretty dress, cradling her baby bump against a stunning backdrop, Tori isn't loving every second of her pregnancy. And you know what? That's okay.

The pregnancy is so rough, Tori initially didn't even want to commemorate it with photos (though we bet she's glad she did upon seeing the finished product!).

"I'm not one of those women who loves being pregnant," Tori writes alongside one maternity photo, which she posted to Instagram. "In fact there's not a lot of times I do love being pregnant. Don't get me wrong. I thank God for this amazing gift every single day and I know how blessed I am but it definitely hasn't made me feel my best."

But let's make one thing clear: Just because Tori is clearly finding parts of pregnancy unpleasant, that doesn't mean she isn't immensely grateful for the chance to carry her baby.

"This photo truly embodies what I LOVE about pregnancy. My growing bump is a symbol of a healthy girlsie [sic]. It's a reminder that I'm in a position that many women dream of and trust me—I do not take it for granted," she adds.

One Instagram user sums up our feelings on this post pretty perfectly. "Pregnancy is so hard and I think some people assume that if you don't love it, you're ungrateful. I think you can recognize the difficulties of pregnancy and still be grateful for it — they're not mutually exclusive. This photograph is stunning and you are glowing. Embrace your feelings, no matter what they are. You're valid in them! Sending you big love," she writes in the post's comments.

Our take? Pregnancy is not easy...at all! Morning sickness, exhaustion, back pain, hip pain, belly pain...let's just say expectant mamas can be in a lot of discomfort and voicing that discomfort is totally acceptable.

Yes, pregnancy is an amazing blessing (and one that not every woman gets to or wants to experience), but not enjoying every single second of it doesn't take away from the gratitude an expectant mom feels. So to Tori (and all the other uncomfortable preggos out there), here's what we'll say: Don't beat yourself up for not loving pregnancy. It doesn't mean you love your baby — or the privilege of carrying them—any less.

You might also like:


There's nothing more important than the bond between a newborn baby and their parents. And while an emotional bond and attachment between parents and a child happen overs years of development, the first year is the most important because a baby's brain grows most rapidly in the first 12 months of life.

In fact, According to Scientific American, paid parental leave benefits baby's brain development. Research shows infant's brains form up to a thousand new connections per second, but those connections form best when the babies are exposed to the kind of stimulation parents on paid leave can provide.

Every parent in America should have the chance to bond with their newborn child, and America deserves a national paid leave policy that supports families.

While the nation works on a single policy, there are some very special workplaces stepping up to the plate and leading the way when it comes to helping parents do what they do best: parent.

Here are 11 employers who get it.

1. Patagonia

Holly Morissette, a recruiter at Patagonia, recently went viral with a post on LinkedIn in which she shared her experience as a breastfeeding mama working at Patagonia.

"While nursing my baby during a morning meeting the other day after a recent return from maternity leave, our VP (Dean Carter) turned to me and said...'There is no way to measure the ROI on that. But I know it's huge.'" Morissette wrote.

"It got me thinking...with the immense gratitude that I have for on-site childcare at Patagonia comes a responsibility to share a 'call to action'. A PSA to tout the extraordinary benefits that come along with not asking employees to make the gut wrenching decision to either leave their jobs or leave their babies. TO HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR JOBS OR LEAVE THEIR BABIES."

Morissette is right here. A recent survey found for 49% of expectant women, it can feel like a choice between breastfeeding or job growth and in two-thirds of cases when breastfeeding mothers point out when they are being discriminated against they ultimately lose their jobs.

That is why Morissette wrote her viral post, to raise awareness of how Patagonia is supporting parents. She hopes that maybe parents will reference her post in conversations with their bosses.

"That perhaps just one person will brave the subject with their employer (big or small) in the hopes that it gets the wheels turning to think differently about how to truly support working families. That with a bit of creativity, and a whole lot of guts, companies can create a workplace where mothers aren't hiding in broom closets pumping milk, but rather visiting their babies for large doses of love and serotonin before returning to their work and kicking ass. It's no wonder that Patagonia has 100% retention of moms. Keeping them close to their babies keeps them engaged. And engaged mothers (and fathers!) get stuff done. Thank you, Patagonia, for leading the way," she wrote.

This is hardly the first time Patagonia's commitment to parents has received attention. The company's family-friendly policies are well known and go way beyond breastfeeding acceptance.

As Quartz reports, Patagonia has been a leader in family-friendly policies for decades. It's had an on-site daycare for over 30 years and busses drop kids off at the corporate headquarters after school. The childcare isn't free, but it is quality care run by teachers and is conveniently located for busy parents. Anyone who has been waitlisted for day care or had to add an hour to their commute for drop-offs can understand why Patagonia employees love this so much.

The company also offers 16 weeks of paid maternity leave and 12 weeks of paid paternity leave. In 2016, Patagonia reported that for the previous five years it had seen 100% of its new moms return to work after maternity leave, and it's no wonder.

[This post was originally published July 8, 2019. It has been updated.]

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.