3 simple steps to lessen the mental load of motherhood this year

I believe every mother can have a more fulfilling, joyful year.

3 simple steps to lessen the mental load of motherhood this year

I love the January vibe. A fresh, new year has just begun and it is teeming with possibility and promise. It's a new chapter in my unfolding story of motherhood and family. As I'm thinking about the changes and additions I want to make to my motherhood story, I want to ask you a question, mama: What will you pen this year?

I invite you to journey with me into 2019 with a promise beyond getting in shape or completing a project to a real commitment to making the story we tell in this new year one that brings healing and hope to ourselves and to the hearts in our homes.


Here are three ways I believe every mother can have a more fulfilling, joyful year.

1. Consider what you feed your mind, and stop multitasking so much.

We take in so much these days, mama. Assess what and how much information you're ingesting and whose opinion you're considering. There is no shortage of negativity in our midst, but we do not have to keep letting it in.

We have the ability—and even the responsibility—to filter what goes into our minds and to make healthy, positive choices. If it drains you, shames you, or causes you drama, it's a good time to limit or cut it out.

It's not just about cutting out the bad, though. We need to cut it all back. According to Charmaine Perry on the American Counseling Association blog, "Continuous overload puts us at risk for mental and physical disorders and diseases as stress, anxiety, negative self-talk, and self-image escalates."

She goes on to say that "when we scroll pages of content daily, they bury themselves in our psyches and connect with the fears that we are all already struggling with and amplifies them."

Mulitasking and motherhood go hand in hand, but couldn't we do it quite a bit less?

Neuroscientist Earl Miller says that our brains are "not wired to multitask well." He says, "When people think they're multitasking, they're actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there's a cognitive cost in doing so."

Even though we think we are getting a lot done, multitasking is actually making us less efficient. In addition, "multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline which causes mental fog, but also creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation," says neuroscientist Daniel Levitin. He calls it "the ultimate empty-caloried brain candy."

More research is needed on how information overload is affecting our brain—and to the point of this article, our mothering— but I believe it's safe to say that we could do with a bit of downtime. Perhaps quieting all of those voices will help us tune into our own a little better.

2. Focus on the light.

It is understandable to want to vent from time to time. We all need a listening ear. But what happens when we stay in that negative space, complaining about the trials of motherhood on a near daily basis?

When we focus on the hardships, they have a way of growing bigger. In the same way, when we focus on the negative traits in ourselves, our children and our partners, we tend to lose sight of their light. I previously discussed how we can see our children (and by extension, anyone in our lives) through a different lens and how we can change our language to amplify their light.

By focusing more of our attention on the joys and blessings of motherhood and the positive traits and actions of those around us, we can both increase our own feelings of happiness and contentment as well be an encourager to our loved ones.

We know that complaining is bad for your brain, according to science. Consistent negative thoughts physically change your brain to make it easier and more likely for you to have even more negative thoughts in the future.

Basically, you're training your brain to see the bad, and this could have a negative effect on your personality as well. In addition, this negativity weakens your immune system, raises your blood pressure, and increases your risk for certain diseases. It also, unfortunately, has a negative effect on those who hear your complaints, bringing down their moods as well.

In that negative mindset, you'll probably become overly critical of everyone, including your children. Research shows that parental criticism affects how children's brains respond to emotional information. Children with critical parents might avoid paying attention to faces expressing any type of emotion, and this could affect their relationships with others. Children exposed to high levels of criticism are also at risk for depression and anxiety.

Let's watch our tongues this year. I have two quotes pinned to my cork board as a reminder. "Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys." – Rita Schiano and "See the light in others and treat them as if that is all you see." – Wayne Dyer

3. Embrace the season you're in.

Motherhood is a constant changing of seasons. Each season has joy to offer, and yet I've been guilty of getting caught up in longing for seasons passed or wishing for the next one to arrive. I've wanted to make them little again so I can rock them to sleep or make them older so they can be more independent. I believe one of the keys to joyful motherhood is learning to embrace the season you're currently in instead of looking to those ahead.

In my book, The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting, I wrote:

"Childhood is not a race. Neither is parenthood. Let's stop rushing through, looking only for the next season to come, and take time to savor the one we are in. The sand is slipping through the hourglass, and there is no slowing it down. Just a blink, and suddenly there is a bit less in the top of the glass than there was before. Time is slipping away. Although time cannot be slowed, it can be embraced. There is delight to be found in our ordinary days. While they may pass by seemingly uneventful and unimportant, there is no such thing as an unimportant day when you are shaping a child's life. Embrace the time you have. Enjoy the season you are in. Each season is sweet in its own way, and each one will be missed when it is gone. Don't miss the beauty of the bud while you're waiting for the blossom. Each stage of a child's life offers us a chance to know him a little better and to grow a little closer."

My hope for you and for me is that we can be more mindful during this particular season and that we might notice more joy, reflect more light and love a little deeper. Wishing you a beautiful year, mama.

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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