My kids taught me something I never expected—how to be my true self

I am a mom to two very different kids. My six-year-old daughter has always been a force of nature. She is loud, determined, and strong-willed.

This little lady knew from the moment she could dress herself that she was a tomboy. She soon became “allergic” to all things pink, and decided superheroes would be the preferred toys of choice.

As hard as it might be, I’m trying to let my kids be whoever they want to be.

Another mom once asked me if I was sad that my daughter wasn’t a “girly girl.” I honestly had never considered my feelings on the topic. I never thought being “sad” was something I should be able to feel, just because my kid wanted to be herself.

That’s not up to me, and I am happy my kid is happy being herself. I actually think it’s cool she knows how she wants to dress and acts differently from her friends—that took me years upon years to figure out for myself.

I’d say she’s on the right course to staying her true self, which is so hard to do.

My son, on the other hand, has more influences forming his little personality. He imitates his sister most of the time, which can be good and bad. It’s perfectly fine that he’s into all things “boy” like my daughter. I actually look at it as an investment when I get her toys, since I know he will use them—same thing with her clothes from the boy’s section.

I also feel like he does things he wouldn’t do if he hadn’t learned the behavior from the six-year-old. He used to be such a sweet little man, but lately, his attitude is right on par with the Kindergartener. Is it him, or is it his environment and the modeling after everything he sees? I’m not completely sure.

I love to see my son when he is alone, away from his sister’s influence. It’s in these moments I can see what he will be like once he decides to be himself.

He is kind and calm. He will sit for an hour playing alone, talking nicely to dolls and Legos equally. I only hope he can become a little less impressionable, like his sister. He’s the one getting in trouble at preschool, just because he follows what the other boys are doing. My daughter never had this problem.

The other day we were on vacation and my son did something I truly loved. He was playing dress-up with his cousins and sister. He chose his Elsa gown and a necklace and wanted help putting them on. I didn’t skip a beat and helped him right into the dress.

He was beaming with pride, wearing that gown, and I loved seeing him make a decision for himself and follow through.

He wore gowns and dresses our entire trip to my sister’s house. I love the fact that no one questioned it or made him feel odd for his choices. He wasn’t imitating his big sister—I can barely get dresses on her for weddings—he was just being himself.

These kids are teaching me lessons I should have learned years ago.

Be true to you! Don’t care what other people think, they don’t dictate your happiness, and they shouldn’t have a say in what you want to do in order to be happy.

From watching these two, I’ve learned that the whole “dance like no one is watching” phrase isn’t exactly accurate. It should be “dance like everyone’s watching, and you DON’T care.”

Let kids be themselves and someday those kids will grow up into confident adults who not only stay true to themselves but also encourage others to do the same.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this


One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.


Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.


Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.


Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.


BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


When we recognize kids' unwelcome behaviors as reactions to environmental conditions, developmental phases, or our own actions, it lets us respond proactively, and with much more compassion.

Here are 10 ways kids may seem like they're acting "naughty," but really aren't.

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