A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Shifting your parenting approach is a big transition, and you can expect some bumps as you and your whole family learn new patterns of relating. Those bumps don't mean that you're doing anything wrong, even if your child sometimes "acts worse" than she ever would have before.


In fact, what's happening when your child acts out is that she's showing you feelings from the past, from those times when you yelled or punished, and she felt so alone and misunderstood. It takes extra compassion from you, but your empathic response will heal those hurts so you can all move on. You might think of it as healing old hurt feelings so they stop driving new bad behavior.

Many parents also find themselves feeling guilty for the way they acted before they discovered peaceful parenting. But feeling bad doesn't help you act "good," any more than it helps your child. So ditch that guilt. You're paying the price, after all, and making amends now, by helping your child heal those old hurt feelings.

Still wondering how anyone makes it through even one evening parenting peacefully? Here's your plan. Take it step by step.

1. Start with yourself

The "peace" in peaceful parenting comes from you. Specifically, from your commitment to regulate your own emotions. That means that when you feel upset, you stop, drop your agenda (temporarily) and breathe. You notice the sensations in your body, which helps you be more present, so you don't get hijacked by anger. You refuse to act on that urgent "fight or flight" feeling that makes your child look like the enemy. Whenever possible, you delay taking action until you feel more calm.

This takes practice—both in the moment with your child, and in general, as you become more aware of your own thoughts and emotions. It's not easy. In fact, it's really, really, hard. Every time you do this, though, you're building gray matter in your brain, which develops impulse control. And you're excavating those triggers, so you don't get upset so often.

2. Focus on connecting

Peaceful parenting doesn't work without connection. So before you change anything else with your child, start building up your bond. Otherwise, you'll drop your punishments, but your child still won't feel motivated to "do right" and you'll just see more testing behavior. Start spending at least 15 minutes connecting one-on-one with each child daily, just following his lead and pouring your love into him. You'll be amazed at the difference in the way he responds to your requests.

3. Explain what's happening

Once you see more connection and cooperation, initiate a discussion.

"You know how I used to yell at you and send you to your room when you broke the rules? Have you noticed that I've been yelling a lot less? I'm so sorry that I've gotten into a bad habit of yelling so much. I love you so much, and I know you try hard. You don't deserve to be yelled at, no matter what. No one does.

We still have all the same rules. So it is never okay to lie or break promises or hit your brothers. But we think you'll learn more from cleaning up your messes and repairing your mistakes than from being punished, don't you? So when you damage something, including a relationship with someone in our family, we expect you to make a repair. We'll always be there to help. And when you're upset, we want to help you with whatever problem you're having. Let's begin by having a family meeting about what household rules are important to us."

4. Ask for cooperation

"Our most important rule is that in this house we treat each other with kindness. I'm going to work very hard not to yell at you, and to really listen and be kind. Do you think you can work on this rule, too, and be kind to your sister?"

You can count on your child losing control sometimes and breaking the kindness rule. Resist the temptation to use that to justify your own yelling—you're the role model, after all.

5. Offer support and model win-win solution

"I know your little sister gets on your nerves sometimes, and she always wants to play with your things. That's really annoying to you. You deserve to be able to keep your treasures safe. But it isn't okay to yell at your sister or hit her. Why don't we work together to find a safe place for your treasures where your sister can't get at them? And if you start getting annoyed at her, what can you do instead of yelling?"

6. Keep setting limits

You become more flexible as you see it from your child's point of view more often, and that's a good thing. But you'll still need to set plenty of limits. The key is to set the limit BEFORE you get angry, while you still have a sense of humor and can empathize with his perspective.

"You wish you never had to stop playing and get ready for bed, don't you? I bet when you grow up, you'll play all night every night, won't you?! And right now, it's time for your bath."

Acknowledging your child's perspective as you set the limit is what helps them cooperate with you.

7. Teach reparations

If you've been punishing, you'll feel unfinished if your child breaks a rule and you don't punish him. So train yourself to think in terms of repair, instead.

After everyone has calmed down and is feeling reconnected, have a private discussion with your child about what happened. Be patient, listen and really empathize. That's what will help him past it. "You were pretty mad when he did that... I hear you."

Resist the urge to teach until after your child has opened up to show you all that upset that caused him to act out. Then, point out the cost of his actions, being careful not to shame or blame. "When you said that to your brother, it really hurt his feelings... I wonder if it made him not feel as close to you."

Ask your child if there is anything he can do to repair the damage. "I wonder what you could you do to repair things with your brother?

Resist the urge to punish or force an apology. Instead, empower your child to see that he can repair his mistakes. "You know we always clean up our own messes, right? This is just a different kind of mess, like spilled milk. I know you'll think of just the right thing to make things better with your brother....I can't wait to see what it is."

Just as with matter-of-factly cleaning up the spilled milk, the process of cleaning up his messes will teach him that he doesn't want to cause those hurts to begin with. Just remember that this isn't a punishment. It's his choice.

What if he resists? That means that he needs more help from you to heal his upset before he can move on to repair. Double-check to be sure you aren't lecturing, and that you're really seeing his perspective. If old resentments are creating a chip on his shoulder, then make a commitment to yourself to start the repair work today to melt those resentments.

8. Expect emotions

When children are punished, they learn that those big emotions that drive them to misbehave get them into trouble, so they try to stuff those "bad" feelings down. That doesn't work, of course. The jealousy, frustration and need are still there in your child's emotional backpack, popping out at the slightest provocation. The only reason your child keeps them under wraps is because she's afraid. So once you stop punishing, those emotions are bound to bubble up to get healed.

Acting out is not a personal challenge to you. When your child "acts out" she is acting out feelings that she can't express in words. Like "All those times you yelled at me, and I was so scared...I acted like I didn't care, but I was terrified inside....That fear is still inside me and it eats away at me and feels awful....So I lash out to keep those feelings down." No child could tell you that, so she acts out.

Train yourself to see misbehavior as a cry for help. Emotions are never the problem; humans will always have big emotions. And, of course, that doesn't give her license to hurt anyone else. The key is to help your child work through the hurts and fears that are under her anger, so they no longer drive her behavior.

How do you help your child with those emotions? Connection, laughter and tears.

9. Create safety

When your child shows you his upsets, stay calm. Don't take it personally. The more you stay compassionate and accepting, the more he'll feel safe enough to show you the woundedness behind his anger. (Anger is just the body's fight response to those threatening feelings.) Expressing those tears and fears is healing. Once he shares them with you—and he doesn't even need to know what they're about, or to use words—those upsetting feelings will evaporate, and he won't need that chip on his shoulder to protect himself.

If he's stuck in anger, create more safety by being as compassionate as you can about what's upsetting him. If that isn't enough to help him cry, and he stays angry, it's a sign that he needs more daily empathy, and more daily laughing with you. Both build trust.

10. Help your child make sense of her experience with a story

"When you were little, I was having a hard time... I yelled a lot... I didn't know what else to do... That frightened you.... So you got very very mad sometimes... Nowadays I work really hard to be kind, and not to yell... You don't get so frightened... And you are learning better ways to show me when you are scared or mad... We work together to solve problems in our family... Everyone gets upset sometimes... We try to listen to each other and be kind... Then we always repair things between us... There is always more love."

All children benefit from using words and stories to understand their emotional life. Just be careful to empathize, not analyze so she feels understood, not invaded or lectured.

11. Model apologies

Don't force your child to apologize, because it leads to resentment. But if you model apology yourself, your child will learn to follow your example. When something goes wrong, take as much responsibility as you can to model how to step up and take responsibility.

"I see two upset kids... I'm so sorry I wasn't here to help you work this out before you both got so upset and started hitting... and then I got worried someone was getting hurt, so I started yelling, too... I'm so sorry... Let's all try a do-over... I know you don't want to hit each other, hitting hurts... And I hear how mad you are... Let's start over so you can tell each other what you need without attacking each other."

Notice there is no blame or shame here, which makes it easier for everyone involved to consider how they might have contributed to the problem, and to acknowledge that.

12. Expect setbacks

You're human, so you aren't perfect. The secret of making this transition is having compassion for yourself, just as you do for your child. Expect to make mistakes. Expect some days to be a huge struggle. Parenting is hard, and this kind of parenting is even harder when you start. But it gets easier. And even while it's hard, you're healing your child's old wounds and your own so you'll feel the difference. Quite simply, there's less drama and more love.

13. Every morning, make the commitment

"For me, this type of parenting is a daily choice. Every morning I have to make the commitment not to yell, to stay calm, to chose love. And there is something very empowering about that. I apologize to my kids when I make mistakes and slip. I see that when they accept my apology, they feel empowerment and generosity of spirit. This influences their behavior with each other - there are more kind words and gestures, more "I'm sorry" and more "Don't worry, I know it wasn't your fault" that they extend to each other, than before. There are days when things are a big struggle, but I really feel that something is changing deep within our hearts AND I feel us grow closer together when we choose love, and when in the middle of a tantrum I hug my child and genuinely tell him that I hear his pain and that I'll help him work through it."

You're on a path now that leads to a happier, more peaceful family. Two steps forward, one step back still gets you where you want to go. Soon you'll find yourself in a whole new landscape. Enjoy the journey.

Originally posted on Aha! Parenting.

You might also like:

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

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.

You might also like:

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.

Keep reading... Show less

In the space between birth and raising a baby is a mama who is rediscovering who she is and letting go of what she was. Except there is no road map that guides you on this unknown path. There is only the void, the feeling of overwhelm that comes at the juxtaposition of new motherhood, where piecing together our past and present seems like a disjointed collage.

With this space brings a tide of emotions that ebb and flow as you become acquainted with this new person birthed alongside your sweet babe. Pregnancy is just the beginning of a transformational journey that is motherhood.

But when that void is met with fear, lacking support, and confusion, it is easy to feel like you are grappling in the dark unknown. It is common to feel like you have lost yourself, like you no longer recognize the person that was when you look in the mirror. And that can be a frightening feeling.

New identities, postpartum bodies and weight loss

Coupled with this transition are the gnashing messages that play to our fears: "Get your body back," "Lose the baby weight," creating an illusion that the way to rediscover who we are is by returning to the body that once was.

This is the trap we easily fall in during our most vulnerable moments, in the identity crisis of crossing into motherhood. We are defined by how quickly we lose weight or if we get back into those pre-pregnancy clothes. In the space of the unknown, taking charge of our body size and weight gives a pseudo-sense of control; when in fact, we are seeking a defining sense of self when everything we once knew has changed.

When diet culture takes on the disguise of control, familiarity, and wellness during a time of change and uncertainty, it's no wonder we cling to its false promises, even after everything our bodies have shown to be capable of in the growth and birth of new life.

In its sneaky way, diet culture takes on many different forms, like fasting, skipping meals, cutting out food groups, counting macros and so on. It becomes easy to justify these things for the sake of wellness, but any way you are manipulating food to somehow trick your body to think it needs less nourishment falls into a dieting mentality.

Postpartum dieting is not healthy

Wellness in postpartum has been watered down to mean weight loss, which puts more value on the appearance of our bodies as opposed to its functioning. This dangerous mentality can cause poor body image and overall body dissatisfaction, which is connected with many potential problems postpartum.

Postpartum moms often see themselves as needing to lose a certain amount of weight, which has been shown to trigger body image concerns, increased mental health issues, and eating disorders.

Research has also found that high levels of body dissatisfaction in the postpartum period may be connected with disordered eating behaviors and lower breastfeeding self-efficacy. In many ways, the pursuit of weight loss in postpartum and putting greater emphasis on appearance over function of our bodies could create a vicious cycle that negatively affects both mother and baby during a critical time of development.

Could it be that the overwhelming desire to lose weight after having a baby is related to something deeper, like the fear that is connected with a loss of identity? Is the possibility of regaining your pre-baby body mean more about finding yourself again?

As women, the postpartum period is a time when we are experiencing tremendous change (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc), coupled with pressures from society to meet unrealistic appearance standards. Focusing on weight loss as a solution for "control" during such a stressful time can only further complicate things.

What if you could take a step back and figure out how to redefine new motherhood without focusing on weight loss postpartum? What if you took dieting out of the equation? How could you best support yourself and be kind to yourself during this vulnerable time of transition in postpartum?

Redefining postpartum wellness

For starters, here are some ideas for things you can do to support your postpartum recovery and healing, while being gracious to yourself during a time where there is increased pressure to make health mean dieting or getting down to a certain weight through ways that can be self-sabotaging.

Honor your postpartum body be eating intuitively

Research has found that new mothers who follow a more intuitive style of eating actually had greater postpartum BMI and weight decreases. More importantly, postpartum women who practice intuitive eating principles have positive improvements in mental health and lifestyle behaviors. Tell me which diet can offer that to a postpartum mom?

Respect your postpartum body with gentle movement

A majority of new moms who feel pressured to lose weight may engage in exercises that are actually harmful to their body that is recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. Instead of punishing yourself at the gym or rigid exercise program, move your body in ways that feel good to you in order to reap maximum benefits.

Celebrate with a postpartum closet edit

Hanging on to clothes that don't fit your changing, postpartum body will only worsen your body image and make you feel bad about yourself. Take the time to go through your closet and get rid of clothes that no longer fit your current body, style, or the season of life you're in. A postpartum closet edit can free up so much mental space to focus on what really matters and support a positive postpartum body image.

Let go of unrealistic expectations

There is no denying the internal and external pressures we face to change our bodies in the postpartum period. But what if you could let go of some of those unrealistic expectations? Choosing to care for your body by not forcing an arbitrary standard of weight loss does not mean you are letting yourself go. It means you are proactively being kind to yourself and your body for all it has brought you though.

Do you deserve anything less than that?

The postpartum transition is one of the most grueling times we experience as mothers, and the added pressure to lose weight only makes things more difficult. By being gentle with yourself and caring for your body, mind and spirit, you are creating a secure foundation from which you and your family will blossom.

In the process, you will learn to become better acquainted with the new mother birthed along this journey. You will find that within her is sound wisdom and innate sense of worthiness that has always been there. You just need to give yourself care, compassion, and time to bloom where you have been planted in this new season of life.

In the end, when you step back and look at the big picture, you will realize that those mismatched pieces you were piecing together have in fact created a mosaic, a stained glass picture of your one and beautiful life.

Originally posted on Crystal Karges.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.