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So much of my first year of motherhood is a blur. I can't tell you without checking her baby book if my daughter slept through the night the third or fourth month of her life, or which nights she woke the most. I know we spent many days in our backyard or at the park, but I can't always put my finger on how exactly we filled those long afternoon stretches (especially the ones without naps). In my memory, she threw up at least once a day the first month of her life, but I don't know if I'm always remembering accurately.


I know I cried almost as often as my baby did in the beginning as I struggled to navigate those choppy new mama waters.

And yet. When I think back to that first year, it's always washed in a glow of joy and celebration, even on our toughest days. My mama tribe is so much to thank for that.

There's something magical about mamas who help other mamas. I think of the dear friends who helped me through those endless last weeks of pregnancy, when my body felt stretched to the limit and I couldn't believe there were still so many days to go. The ones who coached me during labor and were among the first people to hold my daughter's tiny newborn body and soothe her first wailing cries. The ones who always seemed to know when to give us our space and when I desperately needed adult company—and who always managed to sneak in a load of dishes or drop off dinner when they came to visit. Those first days and weeks felt like a blur of exhaustion and happiness, and I was grateful for every woman, from my own mama to my friends, who kept me and my life together so I was able to focus on caring for this new baby I had created.

These were the women who knew my sleep-deprived struggles better than anyone—because they were written in the lines around their own eyes as well. They shared stretch mark battle scars and laughed with me over spit-up and diaper blowouts—things that would have been anything but funny were I alone. They held my baby when my own arms were too tired and forced me to take long showers and naps while they watched the baby because they knew I needed it.

Simply, when they said they got it, they meant it. They've walked my baby-laden steps and carried my same loads. They let me cry on understanding shoulders and helped me find the beauty in the stormiest days. And so many of them survived on the same help they then passed on to me.

Because when mamas help other mamas, everyone's load is lightened.

I'm so grateful that they are my daughter's first exposure to female friends. This supportive village we've made for ourselves fortifies us both and teaches her lessons you have to feel to know.

My tribe inspires me to provide the same level of support to the next generation of mamas—and to return the favor should any of them expand their own brood. It motivates me to be the soul-saving mama tribe that another new mom might need.

Fortunately, it's surprisingly easy to lend a hand to another new mama. Whether it's providing practical help, like offering a home cooked meal or two, helping out with dishes or laundry, or just coming over to hold her baby while she naps or showers, these simple acts can feel incredibly arduous for new moms in the beginning. I was so grateful when friends stepped in. I also love sharing my favorite product recommendations, from the baby carrier that saved me during the "fourth trimester" to the only diaper cream that soothed my daughter's sensitive skin. If passing on these miracle products can help save the sanity of another mama, I'm more than happy to do it.

Because, unfortunately, not every new mom gets the support she deserves. And often, the mamas most in need won't be at my local playground or in my own neighborhood. So I push myself to find ways to help every mom, whether we've ever met in person or not.

That's why one of my favorite ways to give back is the Burt's Bees Baby Baby Bee Box. Not only is it a gift I can give to a new mom in my circle, packed with a whopping three months of gentle, environmentally friendly essentials for a new baby, but it's also a gift that gives back. With every box purchase, Burt's Bees Baby donates a box to a mom in need so she can feel supported as she bonds with her new little one. Because the bond of motherhood extends well beyond my immediate circle.

I can't imagine my life without my mama tribe, and it brings me a lot of comfort to know I can help other moms feel the same way. Mamas helping mamas? That's the real magic.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.


The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

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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Many people experience the "winter blues," which are often worst in northern climates from November to March, when people have less access to sunlight, the outdoors and their communities. Another 4% develops Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of clinical depression that often requires formal treatment.

If you have the winter blues, you may feel “blah," sad, tired, anxious or be in a worse mood than usual. You may struggle with overeating, loss of libido, work or sleep issues. But fear not—it is possible to find your joy in the winter, mama.

Here are eight ways to feel better:

1. Take a walk

Research has shown that walking on your lunch break just three times per week can reduce tension, relax you and improve your enthusiasm. If you are working from 9 to 5, the only window you have to access natural sunlight may be your lunch hour, so head outside for a 20 minute brisk but energizing walk!

If you are home, bundle up with your kids midday—when the weather is often warmest—and play in the snow, go for a short walk, play soccer, race each other, or do something else to burn energy and keep you all warm. If you dress for the weather, you'll all feel refreshed after some fresh air.

2. Embrace light

Research suggests that a full-spectrum light box or lamp, which mimics sunlight, can significantly improve the symptoms of the winter blues and has a similar effect to an antidepressant. Bright light at a certain time every day activates a part of the brain that can help restore normal circadian rhythms. While light treatment may not be beneficial for everyone (such as people who have bipolar disorder), it may be a beneficial tool for some.

3. Plan a winter trip

It may be helpful to plan a getaway for January or February. Plan to take it very easy, as one research study found that passive vacation activities, including relaxing, "savoring," and sleeping had greater effects on health and well-being than other activities. Engaging in passive activities on vacation also makes it more likely that your health and well-being will remain improved for a longer duration after you go back to work.

Don't overschedule your trip. Relax at a beach, a pool, or a cabin instead of waiting in long roller coaster lines or visiting packed museums. Consider visiting or traveling with family to help with child care, build quiet time into your vacation routine, and build in a day of rest, recovery, and laundry catch-up when you return.

4. Give in to being cozy

Sometimes people mistake the natural slowness of winter as a problem within themselves. By making a concerted effort to savor the slowness, rest and retreat that complement winter, you can see your reduction in activity as a natural and needed phase.

Research suggests that naps help you release stress. Other research suggests that when your brain has time to rest, be idle, and daydream, you are better able to engage in "active, internally focused psychosocial mental processing," which is important for socioemotional health.

Make a "cozy basket" filled with your favorite DVDs, bubble bath or Epsom salts, lemon balm tea (which is great for “blues,") or chamomile tea (which is calming and comforting), citrus oils (which are good for boosting mood), a blanket or a favorite book or two. If you start to feel the blues, treat yourself.

If your child is napping or having quiet time in the early afternoon, rest for a full 30 minutes instead of racing around doing chores. If you're at work, keep a few mood-boosting items (like lavender spray, tea, lotion, or upbeat music) nearby and work them into your day. If you can't use them at work, claim the first 30 minutes after your kids are asleep to nurture yourself and re-energize before you tackle dishes, laundry, or other chores.

5. See your friends

Because of the complex demands of modern life, it can be hard to see or keep up with friends or family. The winter can make it even harder. While you interact with your kids throughout the day, human interaction with other adults (not just through social media!) can act as a protective layer to keep the winter blues at bay.

Plan a monthly dinner with friends, go on a monthly date night if you have a partner, go to a book club, get a drink after work with a coworker, visit a friend on Sunday nights, or plan get-togethers with extended family. Research suggests that social interactions are significantly related to well-being.

Realize that given most families' packed schedules, you may need to consistently take the lead in bringing people together. Your friends will probably thank you, too.

6. Get (at least) 10 minutes of fresh air

A number of research studies have shown positive effects of nature on well-being, including mental restoration, immune health, and memory. It works wonders for your mood to get outside in winter, even if it's just for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. You might walk, snowshoe, shovel, go sledding or go ice-skating. If you can't get outside, you might try these specific yoga poses for the winter blues.

7. Add a ritual

Adding a ritual to your winter, such as movie night, game night, hot chocolate after playing outside, homemade soup on Sundays, or visiting with a different friend every Saturday morning for breakfast, can add beauty and flow to the seemingly long months of winter. Research has suggested that family rituals and traditions, such as Sunday dinner, provide times for togetherness and strengthening relationships.

8. Talk to a professional

Counseling, which helps you identify the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, can be extremely helpful for the winter blues (especially when you are also experiencing anxiety or stress). A counselor can assist you with identifying and honoring feelings, replacing negative messages with positive ones, or shifting behaviors. A counselor may also help you indulge into winter as a time of retreat, slowness, planning, and reflecting. You may choose to use the winter to get clear on what you'd like to manifest in spring.

The opposite of the winter blues is not the absence of the winter blues—it's taking great pleasure in the unique contribution of a time of cold, darkness, retreat, planning, reflecting, being cozy and hibernating. Nurturing yourself and your relationships can help you move toward winter joy.

Weary mama,

You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.

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