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Toddlers are pretty well known for being unreasonable. A tantrum over the wrong color cup? A flat-out refusal to put on shoes to go to the park, of all places? They are strong willed little people, there is no denying that.


To navigate this sometimes tricky (but often hilarious) stage while keeping everyone happy and healthy, keep the end goal in mind:d fostering your child’s independence while guiding them into the more reasonable person they will become.

These five key phrases will help you do just that:

“May I show you a trick?”

You may see your toddler struggling with something, but know that if you offer help they will freak out. Some toddlers are very sensitive about their newly forming independence and want to do everything themselves—this is great! When you think about it, independence is a wonderful quality in a child. But it can make things difficult when they clearly need help.

Try offering help a little more indirectly, saying, “May I show you a trick?” Then show him how and let him have a turn to try. Tricks sound fun and this also gives them a way to accept help without admitting that they need it—key in many toddler minds.

“When you…we can…”

To you, it may be obvious why your little one needs to put on her shoes. To her, not so much. If she’s refusing, don’t get caught up in a battle of wills. Try to stay calm and use this little phrase, “When you…we can…”.

For example, “When you put on your shoes, we can go to the park.” Then leave her alone with the task and go do something else until she’s ready.

This has two benefits. First, it avoids directly telling her what to do, and likely tripping their “You’re not the boss of me” alarm. Second, it explains why she needs to do the task.

“Would you prefer this or that?”

Toddlers very much want to have a say. They’ve just found their little voices and they want to use them. Help celebrate this desire by offering them choice, whenever possible. Too many choices overwhelm, though, so stick to two or three.

Think about when in the day the power struggles and “no’s” are the most difficult. Then consider that situation and think about how you could offer some choice.

Is it diaper changes? Get two patterns of diapers and let him choose which to wear.

Is it going to get in the car? Ask if he’d prefer to skip or hop to the car today…and do it with him.

Is it cleaning up toys? Ask if he’d rather put away the blue or the red blocks first.

The truth is, toddlers often don’t have much choice. They’re too young to be the deciders and sometimes things just need to get done. Offering them these small choices though shows them that you respect their opinions, and keeps them from feeling like they’re being bossed around all of the time.

“I wonder if you know how to…”

If time is not of the essence, try musing aloud and see if it incites action in your little one without you even having to ask. “I wonder if you know how to put on your own pants.” They will often race to do it themselves.

Similarly, try “I wonder if you know where your shoes are” instead of “go get your shoes”. They will be eager to show you all of the things they know.

“The clock says…”

We all know the phrase, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Except for toddlers.They always blame the messenger and the messenger is often us parents. Create a “third point,” something else to place the blame on.

For example if you tell your child it’s time to leave the house for school, she sees the directive coming from you. She may think it seems arbitrary or may just not feel like being told what to do. But what if the order was not coming from you?

Try saying, “The clock says it’s time to leave,” while pointing to a clock. Make the clock the enemy, instead of you. You can also set an alarm for this purpose and say “The alarm says it’s time to go.”

If it’s time to return a beloved library book try, “The library’s rules say this book has to go back today.”

If it’s your child’s job to set the table, post a list of family jobs, point to it and say, “The job list says you’re responsible for setting the table”.

The key is to point to some tangible thing the child can see like a list or book or object, and attribute the necessity for action to that thing.

At the end of the day, toddlers are small. You could simply pick them up and put them in the car or force shoes on their little feet. But one of our roles as parents is to help children develop their will, to help them become willing participants.

These language tweaks will help you obtain your child’s cooperation, without making them feel powerless. When they feel that their autonomy is respected, toddlers are much less likely to respond with “no” and many battles can be avoided.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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