Hey sleep-deprived mama, you need to take yourself on a date

I am their mother—totally, wholly and entirely. It is my proudest role. But that is not all I am. 

Hey sleep-deprived mama, you need to take yourself on a date

If you’re a sleep-deprived mama that stays up late for no reason, I get you.


No, really. I get you.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that at one point, someone has said to you: Okay, you’re sleep deprived—it’s essentially all you ever talk about, so why are you still up now that the kids are in bed?

My very logical, rational husband doesn’t understand why, despite the fact that I haven’t slept for longer than a two-hour stretch over the past couple of months, I still stay up well past the kids’ bedtime. You say you want ‘me-time’—but isn’t sleep the ultimate ‘me-time’? ‘ He asked me once.

Before I had kids, the concept of ‘me-time’ was pretty stock standard.

I’d take the full hour lunch break at work and walk through the shops with no agenda whatsoever. On the weekend, I’d set off to the gym on my own for an hour and then stop by my favorite cafe and grab a cappuccino. Sometimes I’d get more than one bout of ‘me-time’ in one day. It was great.

Me and myself had the perfect amount of quality time together.

Now, as a stay-at-home-mother of two kids under 3, most mornings start with me being pulled from my bed either figuratively, by the sound of my 6-month-old wanting to nurse, or literally, by my 2.5-year-old yanking on one of my limbs asking for her daily smoothie and Paw Patrol. (Disclaimer: if I’m really lucky she wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and her father is the recipient of this wake-up call instead.) After getting out of bed, I begin the diaper-changing-breakfast-providing factory line as quickly as possible so that I can inject some caffeine into my bloodstream.

Enter one of the top-5 things I didn’t quite understand before I had kids...being a stay-at-home-mom means that almost everything I do in the course of a day, will be interrupted.

I’m going to be totally honest with you—recently I’ve felt myself becoming resentful towards the fact that I am always, always, being interrupted.

I never get a minute to myself.

Never.

I can’t finish a single task from start to finish. And on the rare occurrence that I do, it’s usually when they’re napping—and I can’t really bask in the success of that because the whole process was saturated with the anxiety and panic of wondering whether I just heard someone wake up.

Hungry? Don’t bother making that sandwich. That’s why the cliché of mothers eating their kids’ leftovers was born.

Need to pee? Sure. Go right ahead, knowing that you will be followed, so you will either have an audience or the phrase “are you finished?” chanted repeatedly through the door loudly.

Just had a moment of inspiration for something you want to do? A project you might want to start, perhaps? BAM. Stop. Interruption. I need a snack. I need crackers. I want to go to the playground. I’m sitting on my baby sister. I’m hungry again. Feed me. My gums hurt. Hold me. That sound scared me. Hold me. I just rolled over and now I’m stuck. Pick me up. Feed me. Hold me. Play with me. Sing to me. Dance with me. Just sit there and watch me. Deal with my diaper. Now deal with her diaper. Oops, my diaper again, please. Feed me. I need you. I’m tired. I need to sleep. I’m bored. Let’s play. Feed me. Hold me.

Wait, what was my thought again?

I’ve recently created a list on my smartphone titled “Things I Want To Do.”

Do not confuse this with a simple to-do list.

It’s not just things I need to do. It’s made up of the haphazard half-thoughts that run through my mind while I’m tending to the kids. The thoughts I don’t quite get to finish. The moments of inspiration to start something, do something, think about something. I’ve started noting them down. It’s made up of the little errands that crop up. Things I know I’ll probably forget. It’s made up of emails I need to send. Text messages I need to respond to. New recipes I want to try. Amazing world-altering ideas I have.

It’s sort of like a poor man’s Pinterest board, I suppose.

When I surveyed this list the other day, I thought to myself, ‘When will I ever get around to doing all, or any, of these things?’

Resentment. I felt that resentment again. And I didn’t like that feeling.

I did understand though—this is why I stay up late.

The few hours between the kids going to bed, and the first middle-of-the-night waking, are the only hours in a day where I might possibly not be interrupted. Even a need as basic as sleep is interrupted, from when my head hits the pillow until it’s time for the day to officially start.

So I sit there, splayed on the couch at 8 p.m., wanting to do everything—everything—on that list, but literally feeling like I can’t move my body and will it to do anything at all. I’m just. So. Tired.

So a couple of days ago, I told my husband I needed something.

I need a regular date—with myself.

While I’m home with our children, I need to be interrupted, but then be able to graciously accept that interruption and not feel like I have to cast away everything that I want to the side.

I need to think of something I want to do, just for myself, be interrupted, be okay with being interrupted because I know that I’ll have my time to get back to that thing, whatever it was.

So I asked for a weekly 3-hour me-time date. To do whatever I want, wherever I want, however I want.

Maybe I want three hours to bake in the kitchen while he takes the kids out somewhere. Maybe I’ll go out to a cafe on my own and write. Maybe I want to lock myself in the study with noise-cancelling headphones on and design something. Maybe I want to go for a run. Maybe I want to get my nails done. Maybe I just want to walk somewhere, anywhere, and stop and explore whenever I feel like it. Maybe I want to call my mom. Or finally sort out that really messy cupboard. Or sleep. Take a nap. Go for a swim. Whatever.

When I started feeling that resentment, I knew I had to change something.

This wasn’t my children’s fault. They’re not out to get me. This is my job. I’m supposed to be here, and really be here, for them. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to try and do things for myself as well while I’m with them, but I need to make peace with the fact that with kids this young, they will need me—often, and for almost everything. I will be interrupted. I most likely won’t finish most of the things that I start.

And that’s okay. That’s just how things flow with little kids around.

But I don’t want to lose myself. I don’t want to forget who I am.

I am their mother—totally, wholly and entirely. It is my proudest role and it fills me with so much joy and love I can barely take it. But that is not all I am. I was, and am, many things before I became their mother. I miss her, sometimes. She has a heart that fills with excitement at the prospect of a new project or goal. She is revitalized by the adrenaline flowing through her body after going for an intense run. She loves to sing—loud. She has ideas. She wants to do things. She loves her family, but she feels that part of herself becoming smaller and quieter.

She knows that motherhood is an indescribable, beautiful sacrifice of so much of yourself, but she also knows, that to be able to take care of the people she brought into the world, she needs to make sure she takes care of herself, too. She needs to take herself out on a date, to remember what she loves about herself and to remind herself of everything she has been through to arrive at this landing point in her life.

Does the mama in your life need a date with herself?

I’m willing to bet she probably does. Whether you are that mama, or you’re married to her, or you’re her best friend, her parent, her neighbor—tell that mama to take herself out on a date. She may resist it and start to tell you the five hundred reasons why it’s not feasible. Whether you’re talking to yourself, or to another person, tell her—this is important. You can make this work. You don’t even need to leave the house. And you’ll be happy you did it afterward.


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    The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

    Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

    Conz Preti

    Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

    This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

    Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


    Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


    Belly oil

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

    Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

    $58

    Belly mask

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

    Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

    $42

    Nipple + lip ointment 

    HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

    Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

    $28

    Belly tattoos

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

    A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

    $18

    This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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

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    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

    We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

    Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

    When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

    Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class

    pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

    $79

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

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    BABYBJÖRN

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

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Sensory play set

    kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

    Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $19.95

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Foam pogo stick

    Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

    green-toys-dump-truck

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

    $22

    Hopper ball

    Hopper ball

    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

    $14.99

    Pull-along ducks

    janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $16.99

    Rocking chair seesaw

    Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

    $79.99

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $79.99

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

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

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    Extended breastfeeding just happened for me—and I'm in no rush to end it

    My son is two and a half and still nursing, and it's what makes sense for us.

    eclipse images/ Getty

    When I became pregnant with my first child, I assumed that I would breastfeed. I also assumed that I would pump and give bottles. I even had all the bottles, a bottle warmer, and a bottle drying rack all ready to go. I made sure I got my pump before the baby came, so I was ready. But then, I actually tried pumping a couple of times and hated it. It was tedious, time-consuming, and not as effective, so nursing was the standard between my two children. It came naturally for me, and I found it the easier of the two options since I stayed home with them anyway. I was always there when they needed it.

    I was able to breastfeed my first until she was two and a half, at which point, I was seven months pregnant with her brother. Between the hormones, being touched out, and being uncomfortable, I decided to fully wean her. It had been coming for some time because the clock was ticking on getting her to sleep on her own before the new baby came since we had been co-sleeping up to this point.

    I cut night feedings first, moved her to her own bed, and then weaned her completely as I went along in my pregnancy. She still wanted to nurse to sleep, but I had to stop eventually because I was so uncomfortable. My body and brain could not take it anymore, but I'm proud I made it that far with her and that I nursed that far into pregnancy.

    When my second child came around, my son, breastfeeding was not only easier, but I found myself here: extended breastfeeding.


    He recently passed two and a half, which is where my daughter stopped, and he is still co-sleeping. He still nurses quite a bit, because his tummy hurts because of constipation issues. He still uses it to soothe and help him go back to sleep at night. He's getting too big to stay in our bed much longer, but I'm in no rush to wean him completely until he's ready.

    Being able to stay home with them has definitely fostered the breastfeeding relationship. Cuddling is a huge part of it, too, and I'll continue to breastfeed until it makes sense to stop.

    While my husband doesn't always agree with that philosophy and tells him that he's a big boy and can be done having milk, it's ultimately not up to him. I told my son that we would work through it together.

    It is still an emotional connection thing, and at the same time, it still has benefits for him. He's still getting nutrients especially designed for him. He's still getting supplemental nutrition while he doesn't want to eat as much otherwise if his stomach is hurting.

    My body has been doing this for a long time. I'm used to it. While I get touched out some days, I also know how helpful breastfeeding still is to help him settle down and how much he still appreciates it. I don't feel the need to cut him off quickly—both for his sake and mine.

    I'm also painfully aware that this is probably my last baby. My breastfeeding journey, over five years in the making, will soon be over. As long as he is still getting the benefits and I'm not stressed over it, I'll let it continue on a limited basis. I know it will end soon—it has to. He will be growing up and entering the next stage before I know it. But until then, I'm going to cuddle my baby boy a bit longer. I'm going to let him nurse at certain times and in certain situations.

    I never intended to do extended breastfeeding with either of them, but it just happened naturally. And that's okay. You need to do what makes the most sense and do what your intuition tells you is right for your family.

    Parenting