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There are days when everyone needs and wants to be held and there isn’t a second I can find to myself. One of the children in the group is either unhappy, throwing a tantrum, crying or shrieking, and I think, ‘Please go play. Mommy needs a break. Just two minutes to myself. I can’t hold you right now. My arms are about to break.’


I know I will want each moment back that I took for granted—and be begging for the opportunity to chase one of my children down, to have them let me hold them at all.

The incessant one mores—when I’m asked to color one more picture, read one more book or play one more game, after the previous hours of devoting every last breath of energy left in my body—find me answering at times with a slouch and a sigh.

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Yet, I know there will come a time when I’d give anything to be able to sit down and not only do these one more time, but a thousand more times.

There are mornings, afternoons and evenings when I feel like a slave in my own kitchen. When it feels like it’s more of a war zone. I don’t get to sit down, as someone always needs another refill, a second helping—or naturally, there is a mess that needs immediate attention.

And yes, one day, I will look around my kitchen and wish for it to be filled with little people who need me to wait on them hand and foot...all too soon, it will be empty, quiet and lifeless.

There are moments I feel like I can’t change one more diaper, help one more time on the potty, wipe one more messy mouth or clean up one more disaster. As soon as I get one of these tasks accomplished, the next is already awaiting me.

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But I know that ultimately, my need to be needed is far greater than anything else. I will not only miss this, but yearn for it one day.

There are nights when the babies just won’t go down for bed...or for that matter, stay asleep. The times they prolong the inevitable at tuck ins and ask for one more kiss, one more hug, one more drink of water or have just one more thing to tell you, but...for the fifteenth time.

There will come a time I would give anything to have made sure I took each one of those extra hugs and kisses and realize that I’m pacing the halls with an emptiness that can’t be replaced.

The hundreds of times I’m asked daily, “Mommy look! Mommy just watch me! Mommy....Mommy? Come here! Mommy can you help me with this?” There are times I think I could crumble and often, at my breaking point, I wonder, ‘How is it possible for one human being to meet all of these tiny people’s needs all at once, every single day, all day and all night long?’ I feel so defeated at times simply because there aren’t five of me to go around.

One day, I will be praying to have those requests and sweet demands back.

There are never-ending pleas where I’m asked to watch the same show or movie over and over or listen to the same songs again and again. At times, my head aches and spins from it, and I’m certain it will burst if it sees or hears something one more time. I realize at times my much needed social, adult vices are no longer met—they’re simply a thing of the past.

But yes, at some point, I will laugh to myself and want it back.

There are ever-too-early awakenings when I’d give anything to have my kids sleep in and not have each day begin at 65 mph by 5:30 a.m. Most days, when I’m trying to get my eyes to open and remind my legs to put themselves one in front of the other, I’m not sure which direction I’m heading or what needs done first. I’m just doing my head count to make sure everyone is accounted for and made it through another night.

But this, too, will be an exhausting time that I will look back on and smile and think, ‘They were my reason to carry on and pull myself out of bed every day.’ I will find a point when I need to have these mornings again.

There are daily games where I have someone playing peek-a-boo during my two-minute shower or have thumping feet and squeals running through our halls to the point it sounds like someone is being seriously hurt and our house will surely come crashing down.

One day, the peace and silence will be deafening. I will miss this.

There is running from one event and appointment to the next. The constant in and out of the car seats to keep up with our schedule. And while we’re traveling, the unremitting battles in the backseat that are sometimes enough to make it impossible to even attempt to drive safely. All so often I think to myself that I must be one of the most courageous people on this earth to put these tiny people in the car and take all of them out in public alone.

One day, I will turn around and find complete emptiness behind me, with no one asking or needing me to take them anywhere or pick them up. I surely will want it all back.

The daily cleaning the toothpaste out of the sink, switching the shoes that are on the wrong feet, fixing the shirts that are misbuttoned, keeping up with the never ending loads of laundry, tripping over and picking up the sea of toys that lay scattered through the house or once again scrubbing the crayon that has found its way onto our wall.

Yes, all of this, every single last thing, I will want it all back.

That’s the crazy thing about motherhood—the most tiring and sometimes most dreadful duties are actually where we can find the biggest blessings hidden.

The days of Help, “Mommy...Mommy, please...Just one more!” I need to at times beg myself to embrace this, all of this...the struggles, the exhaustion, the wearing of the 50 hats to just survive one day with my little ones because one day, this will all begin to slow down and eventually come to a complete stop. There is no pause button. There is no rewind button. And unfortunately, there is no do-over button.

In our moments of exhaustion and despair wishing, ‘Oh when they’re old enough for this. We just have to push it out a little longer to make it through this stage.

There will come a time I will be sick thinking that I could have wished any amount of time away and would walk to the ends of the earth to be back here—right here, right now.

I’m given one shot with my children. They are given one childhood with me.

The amazing, yet scary part of all of this, I’m the author of this part of their lives. I determine how their chapters are being written out. Every day, I will go down in flames trying to give them one hell of a story to reread and look back on one day and think, ‘I remember being happy. When I think of my childhood, I simply remember happiness.

And if we’re really lucky enough, they will know in their hearts that their mother, well, she was a huge contributor to that happiness.

As I have my failed attempts and times I only wish I could take back, I simply must try to learn from my mistakes, hoping by God that it bettered me as a parent, move on and try to make the next chapter a little better than the last one was.

Thank God every day we’re given a brand new page to write on. Make today a good one.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

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


Our Partners

Starting this weekend Target will be limiting the number of people allowed in its stores to give shoppers and staff more space to spread out and adhere to social distancing recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Beginning April 4, Target will actively monitor and, when needed, limit the total number of people inside based on the store's specific square footage," the company notes in a news release.

You'll also notice staff wearing gloves and masks over the next two weeks as the company steps up its coronavirus protection measures.

Many people are choosing to stay home and order groceries online, but that's not an option for everyone as long lines at some Target's prove.

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"We're incredibly proud of the commitment our more than 350,000 frontline team members have demonstrated to ensure millions of guests can count on Target, and we'll continue to focus our efforts on supporting them," says Target's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, John Mulligan.

Target is open this weekend but—along with Costco, Aldi, Publix and Trader Joe's—Target stores will be closed on Easter Sunday to give the essential employees in these stores a much-deserved break.

I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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According to attachment theory, when you respond to the needs of your child, a strong bond is formed and woven into their personality, serving as a basis for all future emotional ties. So your kids love and depend on you. And they can feel anxious when involuntarily separated from you, like when you are asleep.

Child psychologist Esther Cohen suggests that it is fairly universal that infants and toddlers try to open the eyes of their sleeping parents. Her theory is that when you are present, but with your eyes shut, you are not responsive, and on some level this causes your child a form of "emotional distress." So the best and easiest way for them to feel better is to wake you up.

Cohen believes that reestablishing eye contact bridges the gap between your physical presence and your emotional presence, making the situation feel normal again. Your kids are relieved that you are alert and there to interact with them—and that you are available to protect them.

Kids are hardwired to seek our attention all the time.

At birth, your brain is only about 25% of its adult volume. Born particularly vulnerable, you depend on years of loving care. This prolonged helplessness has resulted in the evolution of certain behaviors—like baby coos, smiles and crying—that increase your odds of survival within your family.

By the toddler age, they've developed a sense of who you are and what you can do in relation to people, and realize when they are separate from their parents. Toddlers also have what's called object permanence—they can understand who or what is, or is not, present. That means they'll search for objects and people. (And wake you up when they find you.)

Bottom line: When you sneak off for a nap and your toddler looks for you, know that this is a natural instinct for them, and they will grow out of it. But for now, when you are asleep, you are not there, so your kids must. wake. you. up.

And for an extra fun fact: Research indicates that this also could be why it's so hard for you to ignore your partner when working from home. They are there, but technically not available, so you

continually find reasons to interact with them—just like waking them up from a nap. 😉
Life

Navigating family dynamics during or after a divorce is already a tremendous challenge. Throw a highly transmittable virus and a global pandemic into the mix, and many parents will be left with more questions than answers. Matters of custody, financial stability and mental and emotional health take on new significance—and new challenges—under these circumstances. But you can do it, mama.

As a divorce attorney, I've worked with numerous families during these past weeks, in various stages of the divorce process, all of whom are learning to navigate and negotiate unfamiliar dynamics created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are my tips for co-parenting in the context of COVID-19.

1. Show children that you are calm.

Parents know better than anyone how perceptive children are. Even so, we often forget how our moods and anxieties can unintentionally affect our children. To keep the calm in the household, let children see things are under control: Ensure that potential disagreements with your co-parent are kept in conversations between the two of you (not in front of the kids), and give yourself time and space to manage your own stress and anxiety. Stressed children mean stressed parents—and the principle applies in reverse as well.

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2. Be transparent with your co-parent.

Communicate as openly and honestly as possible with your co-parent about yourself and your children. Keep your co-parent updated about you and your children's location, home education and health (physical and emotional). It is critical that, in the case of an emergency and in everyday life, both parents be fully aware and in sync regarding children's whereabouts and welfare. Transparency breeds trust; secrets breed mistrust and animosity.

3. Keep your rules.

Because this moment feels so uncertain and some of our regular norms have fallen by the wayside, there can be a tendency to let other household rules start to slide. Make sure everyone remembers their responsibilities within the family.

School might be at the kitchen table now, but having children make their beds, get dressed and brush their teeth in the morning helps maintain a sense of normalcy that can be helpful for children when things seem tumultuous. Maintain chore schedules, eat dinner together and continue to follow rituals and rules that remind children (and parents) of the responsibilities we have.

4. Consult your health care provider when disagreements arise.

If you disagree on social distancing measures, I usually advise both parents to telephone their child's pediatrician or health care provider and agree ahead of time to follow their advice. Parents can also consult the CDC measures and agree to follow those protocols. Educating your co-parent can be the most helpful thing to do now.

If you are divorced and work with a parenting coordinator, they may also be a helpful resource. If not, a third party, like a mutually trusted friend or relative can serve as an impartial mediator to help you come to a reasonable agreement.

5. Maintain boundaries.

For parents and children in this time, it is important to maintain a degree of personal space. Many of us have been directed to self-quarantine, and isolation is not easy. The nationwide efforts to keep us apart in order to contain the virus have put many of us in closer contact with those around us than we may be accustomed to.

Constant shared space and time can certainly introduce new stress into an already tense environment. While these small measures may not seem significant, taking time to yourself to be alone—even just in a separate room—can be healthy and good for group morale. Take a walk, do some yoga, whatever it looks like, take care of yourself as a parent right now.

Be flexible with your co-parent.

Flexibility, transparency and reasonableness need to be at the forefront of all decisions. Remember that this is an unprecedented situation, and it calls for flexibility, especially in scheduling.

Both sides need to be reasonable if someone becomes ill, of course. If your co-parent can't travel due to illness, then you need to be understanding about this issue and work with them to provide makeup time for the future. But the situation also calls for transparency by the parent who is sick. That parent should provide the information necessary to make the co-parent feel comfortable that they have appropriate resources and are taking proper precautions to keep children and adults safe and healthy.

Plan ahead.

While immediate concerns may be taking center stage right now, planning for the future has never been more crucial. Make time to sit down with your current or ex-spouse and take stock of your respective finances, your job security and your co-parenting schedule management as soon as possible, and create a plan (and a backup plan) for going forward. Though it may not be comfortable, transparency with your current or ex-spouse is essential.

Be smart, plan ahead and above all, stay safe.

Love + Village

As a mom of three and former social worker working for many years in the fields of adoption, Sara Ester of Sara Liz Photography knows firsthand the importance of family time. When she learned that families all over the country are self-isolating due to the coronavirus outbreak, she knew it was the perfect time to capitalize on moments of connections. Her mission was simple: promote family time to ease stress and promote happiness.

Liz reached out to dozens of families on social media asking if they would like to be photographed on their porch for a "Front Porch Session" and the responses were huge.

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Photo by: Sara Liz Photography

"Amid all the COVID-19 stuff going on I asked if families would be interested in a quick five-minute session on their front porches to document what a crazy experience it has been to be quarantined at home," Ester told Popsugar. "The people participating ran with it! So many families made funny or encouraging signs, showed up in their pajamas or yoga pants, and just really embraced the whole 'quarantine chic' idea. It was really reaffirming to see how everyone is in the same boat. We're all just trying to do the best we can with a crappy situation!"


Photo by: Sara Liz Photography

We're living in perilous times and it's nice to see families using the lockdown as an opportunity to bond. After all, it doesn't matter how big or small your house is, it's the love inside that counts.

Photo by: Sara Liz Photography


"Photography, specifically documentary photography is a big part of how I see and function in the world a lot of the time," Ester shared in an Instagram post. With everything being so overwhelming the last week or so, it has helped me to also keep in mind that what we are dealing with is historical."

News
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