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Why 'lazy parenting' is actually a recipe for happy families

There has been a growing buzz lately about what some are calling "lazy parenting." It's being touted as the antidote to helicopter parenting, and, while its name may suggest otherwise, it's actually anything but lazy.

So what's the deal with lazy parenting? How do I do it and what will it do for my kids?

When I first heard of lazy parenting, I thought someone had been spying on my house on Fridays from 5:30pm until bedtime.

You know, the time when my husband and I have no energy left for parenting, so we have dinner picnics—cold cuts, apple slices, cheese sticks and crackers while sitting on a blanket on the family room floor—and then the kids play by themselves while I stare at the ceiling thinking about how many loads of laundry are waiting for me this weekend.

In those moments, I feel like I'm simply there as a somewhat engaged supervisor, making sure no one gets hurt, and nothing catches fire. It certainly doesn't feel like "good" parenting, and I often felt guilty that I wasn't doing more. I was a parent, and I was being lazy—that's lazy parenting, right? Not entirely, it turns out.

In actuality, the outcome of my Friday night laziness was similar to the outcome of lazy parenting, but I was not fully grasping what was going on.

Lazy parenting is about intentionally providing your child with opportunities to develop a sense of self-efficacy, which in turn will bolster confidence, independence, and responsibility. It's about mindfully stepping back to allow your child to struggle on their own for a minute rather than rushing in and rescuing. It's about letting your child find out just how much they are capable of. And they actually are capable of a lot!

Children can benefit tremendously from this approach to parenting. When parents step in prematurely when a task seems difficult, or don't even allow their child to enter a situation that could potentially be challenging, children do not get a chance to learn what they are capable of.

Additionally, depending on their age, they may begin to internalize a belief that they are incapable—if mom always rushes in to help, it must be because she knows I can't do it. This can contribute to increased anxiety as the child begins to encounter life outside the home, where mom isn't available to help all the time.

If parents continue to anticipate and take care of every challenge for their child, the child also loses out on the chance to develop basic life skills. I sometimes see this in older teenagers I work with.

A parent has always taken the lead on making sure homework is done, projects are completed, and social plans are made. Now the teen has transitioned to college and is struggling significantly. They don't know how to organize themselves or manage their time. They have difficulty making and maintaining friendships. These are very bright young adults, but they were simply never given an opportunity to learn basic executive functioning skills.

So how is what happens in my family room at the end of the work week different from actual lazy parenting? What I was doing was accidentally lazy parenting—more lazy, less parenting. I was simply zoned out, and luckily my kids managed to play nicely without my direction.

Lazy parenting as an actual parenting style is quite intentional. It will look different depending on how old your kids are, but here are a couple of places to start:

1. Create a yes space and then let them have at it

Find a spot in your home that you can set up for your child that allows them to freely explore anything and everything within it. It can be an entire room or an area of a room that you are able to contain. Fill it with age-appropriate items that do not require close supervision for safety. Then let your child explore while you step back.

Depending on your child's personality and age, they may need you to be physically present in the space with them, but the point is that you do not direct or constrain the play. Let them do their thing! You don't have to worry because you know they are safe. Resist the temptation to rush in if they are struggling with something—a toy they can't figure out, or a pillow they can't climb over.

Give them time and space to work through their frustration and master the problem. This is the goal: Learning that they are independently capable.

2. Get comfortable with natural consequences

Giving your child responsibility involves accepting that there will be times that they do not do what they need to do. Lazy parenting accepts this and says that within reason, children should suffer the natural consequences of their decisions.

For example, consider the middle school child who is old enough to pack their backpack each night. Previously, mom was checking to make sure every homework assignment was completed and packed for the next day.

Following lazy parenting, mom walks her child through the process and then leaves the child to handle the actual checking and packing herself. On the days that she remembers to follow the routine, everything works out well, and the child feels confidence and pride in her ability. On the days that she skips what she knows she's supposed to do, homework assignments are forgotten at home.

While mom may be tempted to rescue her daughter when she notices the folder left behind on the kitchen table, she does not. Instead, she knows that her daughter will be able to manage the natural consequences and that experience will help her remember the next time.

In general, intentionally lazy parenting is the shift in thinking from, "I need to move in and fix this for my kid" to, "I need to step back and see if my kid can manage this on their own. It might take longer and be messier, but if they can do it themselves, then they should."

Even if you don't end up embracing this parenting style 100% of the time, it can be liberating for you and your child to try it from time to time. You'd be surprised what they can handle on their own!

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

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2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

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3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

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4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

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5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

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With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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


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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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