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Despite any negativity you hear—raising a three-year-old is awesome! With my son, age two seemed to be the exciting year of discovery. But as he now grows into a real life threenager before my very eyes it’s amazing to witness him connecting things, making sense of things and most of all questioning things—all in the spirit of understanding the world better. It’s truly remarkable.


With this newfound sense of self, comes responsibility and independence—two things I am trying to teach my son every day.

Here are seven things my husband and I have started to expect him (and show him) to do himself. Some tasks are done better than others...but we’re getting there!

1. Clean up time!—picking up after himself

If you have a toddler at home you can relate to the tornado that they somehow create in a matter of seconds. I wish I could do anything as fast as he can create a mess.

Our new rule? After my son is done playing, before he moves on to the next toy, I ask him to put everything away. I want to show him we all contribute to the responsibilities of the household—encouraging him now sets the foundation for him to be helpful, and eventually do chores, as he gets older.

The same goes for after dinner. When he’s done eating he puts his silverware in the dishwasher and puts his dish in the sink. The other day he put his own laundry away—in the correct drawers!—and I basically passed out. ?

2. No whining please—use your big boy words

Whining has become huge in our household, and so I feel like I say “use your words” 100 times a day. Since explaining that it’s hard for Mommy and Daddy to understand whining, our son is doing a great job with communicating his feelings and why he’s upset or frustrated.

As a parent, I don’t want to put words in his mouth or guess why he’s upset. When he uses his words to tell me how he’s feeling I make sure to praise him specifically and effectively— “Thank you my sweet boy! This helps mama so much! Now I can help you solve the problem because I understand what’s bothering you.” ?

3. Setting a good foundation—helping him understand the basics

By this age, my son can say his full name and spell his first name. Our last name is kind of impossible, so I’m giving him a pass on that for another year or so.

He can also recognize and recite numbers 1-20 and letters A-Z. Working on these things together makes me feel like I’m helping to set a strong learning foundation for him and helps him feel confident in his abilities. As we build towards “sight words,” and eventually reading, these are key pillars that will give him the confidence to get there. It still boggles my mind that shortly he will be able to read to me! ?

4. Playing alone—even if it’s for 10 minutes

Sometimes I have to take a call or prep dinner or use the bathroom, without someone yelling, “Mommy I’m lonely!” Don’t get me wrong, I include him in basically everything—including cooking dinner (even though that tends to make things much slower and messier)...but it’s fun, and something we can do together.

Playing alone is a skill he needs to have and develop—for everyone’s sake! I have also seen his imagination soar because of this. He “reads” books to his stuffed animals, cooks delicious meals in his own kitchen and does landscaping or construction in the living room. It’s magical to watch. ?

5. Basic hygiene skills—even when it makes more of a mess

Things like washing his own hands, brushing his own teeth and washing himself in the tub are all skills he’s currently mastering. In all honesty, these things typically require an additional once over by Mommy or Daddy. BUT—he is learning and gaining a sense of empowerment that he is in charge of his own body and can do these things for himself.

Getting undressed and going to the bathroom by himself are other big tasks we’re working on. These scenarios are where lots of patience and Clorox wipes save the day! But, we are working on it, together. ?

6. Sharing is caring—unless you’re a three-year-old

Let’s start by saying that sharing is a necessary life skill. However, have you ever tried explaining this to a three-year-old? At this age he knows he should share, but isn’t so keen on the idea. He is good with sharing with family, without a reminder—which is great! What we need to work on is when someone comes into our house and wants to play with his toys.

Enter a territory war. In my heart of hearts I can understand the struggle through his big hazel eyes. So of all of the do-by-yourself skills, this is the one that we will work towards mastering—before he turns four. ?

7. Plain and simple—must have manners

This seems to be a lost art in today’s society. How many times have you held the door for someone and they just walk right past without saying a simple “thank you”? These things tend to get under my skin.

Phrases like, “I’m sorry” or “Thank you” or “Please may I” really go a long way to me. Recently in a restaurant after my son got his grilled cheese, he said, “Thank you very much” and the waiter almost fell over. It was a very proud mama moment, I must say.

His newest line is, “Look! Mommy, I’m holding the door for this lady like a gentleman.” Cue heart explosion! ?

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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Life

Dear friend,

I sat across from you today. You are struggling, you are tired.

As I looked into your eyes I recognized the exhaustion and the fear. I recognized the question, the one that asks, "Am I going to be okay?" I remembered a dark season in my life. I remembered when I was so undone with anxiety that I couldn't take the kids to the beach or even make it out of the house.

I remembered when I had no hope.

I remembered a friend who showed up every single day on my doorstep.

She'd ask,What are you afraid of today?" I'd tell her and she'd listen. She'd really listen…that was the gift. When I'd run all out of words I would sit shaking on my porch trying to feel the sun that beat down all around me but never touched my skin.

Then she would say, You are okay, your kids are okay. This is just fear and anxiety." And I would cry until all the tears were gone.

And the next day she'd be back because I'd already forgotten the truth.

Sometimes we need truth holders in our lives because our grip is not strong enough.

Sometimes we need to stand with each other until the sun comes up.

Right now, you are low. Right now you feel like a fragmented version of yourself. It's okay to fall apart. When you are low, others are high. When you are broken, others are okay.

We have all been undone. We have all been undone and then we get put back together piece by piece, and when we find someone else who is suffering we understand deeper and wider. We can hold space for them because we get it.

So, friend, I take your hand, like she took mine because we will walk through this together.

There have been so many times in the past I've watched friends suffer from a distance because I wasn't sure what to say and I was afraid of making it worse. I made their pain about me, and I still cringe when I think about it. I wish that I'd showed up. I wish I'd been brave.

I'm done letting my fear keep me from staying close.

I will not do it perfectly—in fact, sometimes I might do it awkwardly and terribly. I will probably say the wrong thing. I will probably make you mad.

I'm okay with that now.

I will listen to you until you're all out of words. I will listen, and I will listen and then I will take your hand because you are not alone.

I will take your hand because you are going to be okay.

Whatever you do, do not forget that there are songs still left to sing. There are joyful moments coming around the corner that will take your breath away. This, my friend, feels like everything. It feels all consuming and that hope won't ever come, but it's not true…

The sun will come up.

You will laugh again. You will laugh so hard that your stomach aches and tears spill out. I promise. Things will be funny again.

You will have moments again when you hold your kids and your heart breaks into a million pieces because your love is fuller and more overwhelming than you ever knew it could be.

Those are the moments that it is worth hanging on for. They are the moments that are worth more than a thousand years of everything.

Someday, you will be past this and you will look back and thank God that you're on this side of the storm, and then you will thank yourself because it turns out you are stronger than you knew.

Joy is coming.

It can't resist you. You can't resist it. Even when everything is so dark and dingy and hopeless, hang on, because it will come.

For now, when you can't hope, I will hope for you.

When you can't see, I will see for you.

And one day soon you will feel the sun again on your own.

Love,

Your friend

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Love + Village

Dear second child,
I blinked, and three weeks have passed since I brought you into our world.

As the second-born, you get the privilege of not being the "guinea pig." The mistakes I made at the beginning of my journey into life with a newborn I (probably) won't make with you (though new "mom of two" mistakes will inevitably be made along the way).

This time around, I know that if you have the hiccups 10 times a day, I don't have to call the doctor to ask if you'll be okay.

If you spit up a little after every meal, I don't have to worry that you're not eating enough.

If you've never slept longer than a two-hour stretch in your short little life – and if you're still not sleeping through the night at one year old – that there's nothing wrong with you, and that this too shall pass.

But, also as the second babe to join our family, I quickly realized that my attention has been divided from the moment I knew I was pregnant, and even more so the moment you were born.

This time around, I can't hold you like I did your older brother—as often as I want or whenever I want. I put you down when you're crying or unsettled more times in a day than I'd like to because your older brother spilled his breakfast all over his clothes and needs help getting changed.

Your nursing sessions are often interrupted because there was a loud crash in the other room and your brother? Well, he was far too quiet for far too long.

You get passed around from person to person, not because I don't want to be the one who gets to hold you and comfort you, but because this transition has been hard on your older brother and he needs his mama, too.

Before you were born, I wondered how it would be possible to love two little humans as much as I already loved your brother. But, the moment you were born, my heart doubled in size just for you.

So my sweet second-born, despite the fact that you'll probably always have to fight a little harder to get my attention and be a little louder in order to be heard, I want you to know that I love you, too.

I love your newborn smell and the way you calm down the instant you're in my arms.

I love the way your arms always seem to find a way to free yourself of a swaddle, and the way the single dimple on your right cheek appears along with a little smile when you're dozing off to sleep.

I love the way a bath always calms you down and I even love waking up with you all hours of the night because, this time, these are some of the precious only moments we get to spend uninterrupted—just you and me.

In this ever-evolving journey of motherhood, I've quickly learned to savor all of the moments - the good and the bad. I look at your brother, a walking, talking, beautifully chaotic mess of a toddler, and wonder how two years passed by so quickly. I look at him and realize that every moment—especially the 3 a.m. feed and fussing that follows—is one to be cherished because it simply won't last.

So thank you, my sweet second-born, for this new perspective on motherhood. We've only just met you, but you fill our home and our hearts in ways that only you can. You add more joy and meaning to our days, and you've brought more love into our family in ways that only you, as our second-born, can.

So, my precious second-born: you may not know it yet and it may not always feel like it, but I want you to know that I see you, I hear you, and I love you, too.

Love,
Mama

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Life

We are almost into Pumpkin Spice season—this summer, this month and this week have flown by! But don't worry, we've been taking note of the good news stories you need to read when you have a moment to slow down.

Grab a coffee and get comfortable, mama, because these are the headlines that made us smile this week:

This kindergarten father is total #dadgoals

As Today reports, dad Jamie DeSpain is going viral for making his kindergarten daughter's day by taking her stuffed cat, Sophia, to work with him and putting her to work.

DeSpain's oldest daughter, Hadley, had been taking Sofia the cat with her to school as she made the big leap into kindergarten this month, but last week her dad realized she'd forgotten Sofia in the van when he'd dropped her off at school. DeSpain didn't want to cause an interruption at school, so he just brought Sofia into work with him and began texting his wife, Erica, photos of Sophia doing work around the office.

"I kind of have a goofy streak and Hadley really appreciates goofiness," Jamie DeSpain, who lives in Madison, Alabama, told Today Parents. "Combine that with her love for stuffed animals...[it] made for the perfect dad setup."

He took pics of Sophia taking phone calls, doing emails, having coffee and even having a pensive look out the window, which DeSpain captioned: "wondering what Hadley is doing."

When dad got home, his daughter was thrilled with her stuffed animal's big day out and was happy to be reunited with both her father and Sofia. Hadley was so thrilled with the experience that she asked her dad to repeat the mission the next day with her stuffed dog, Mocha. The cotton-filled canine was spotted doing various office tasks and, of course, drinking some coffee. 😂

Hadley's mama says her husband's antics were a welcome bit of fun and helped the family remember that while kindergarten is a big step, Hadley's still a little kid (and it seems her dad is too, at least at heart).

"Sending Hadley off to kindergarten has been a big transition for us as a family, but this activity reminded us that she's still little," Erica DeSpain said."We want to soak up that childlike wonder as much as we can, and this activity was a great way to do just that."

We think office buildings are about to see an infestation of stuffed animals!

This father's viral Instagram video is total #dadgoals

Father Jimmy Howell has gone viral for giving his 9-month-old daughter Kensley an adorable pedicure.

"She got a little crazy with me today due to the fact that I was filing her nails a little too rough, y'all see why I can't do anything for free, I'm charging her next week, just watch," he captioned the video he posted to Instagram.

"Kensey, this is free," He jokes in the video after Kensley seems to protest the spa service for moment. 😂

With the power of dad humor, Howell not only got the baby's toes clipped (which is hard to do!) but got her laughing, too. He says he has weekly "spa talks" with his daughter, so it's no wonder his baby nail skills are so on point.

Viral kindness: "Please ask me if I have sunscreen" 

We have all been there—sometimes you're the one who needs an extra diaper and sometimes you're the one who has one to give. The point is, every parent needs help sometimes and most are happy to pay it forward when it is their turn to give a diaper to a stranger in need.

Wisconsin mom Shelby Beck captured this perfectly in a Facebook post this week after she went to the park with her daughter and a fellow mama had to ask her for a favor.

When the stranger approached Beck, she could tell she was uncomfortable. "She shrugged her shoulders and quietly said 'I'm embarrassed to even ask, but do you happen to have sunscreen we can use?' As if she was somehow ashamed that she forgot to pack sunscreen today." Beck wrote.

She continued her Facebook post with an open letter to parents who find themselves in the same situation as the sheepish stranger.

"Dear fellow mamas,

Please ask me if I have sunscreen. Ask if I have baby wipes, diapers or even extra snacks.

Ask me if your toddler can sit down and play with us while you find a shady bench to nurse your newborn.

Hand me your phone and ask me to take a picture of you with your sweet babies - we all know mamas aren't in enough photos.

Ask for help. Ask for love. Ask for anything.

Even though we are strangers, please ask me.

It's not easy being responsible for little humans but it's easier if we help each other out.
We're all in this together.❤️"

We could not agree with Shelby more. Mamas helping mamas is a beautiful thing (and asking for sunscreen could even lead to making a mom friend!).

Oh, and one last thing...

Oh, and if you need a good cry this weekend, check out this viral Michael Bublé video that has parents everywhere crying about our kids growing up. Team Motherly could not get through it without sobbing! Just like summer, their childhoods will be over before we know it so take some time to connect with your babies this weekend. They're off to kindergarten today—off to college tomorrow! 😭


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News
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