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A common refrain I hear at almost any moms' group, social gathering or parent group is that we parents don't have enough time for ourselves. I hear moms discussing how they haven't had time to get a haircut in years or even a regular doctor's checkup.

Many feel this is just the life of a parent—it's just one of the many sacrifices we make when we have kids. While I agree that self-sacrifice is part of parenting, I don't think we have to completely give ourselves and all our time over to our kids.

Research supports this notion that a more balanced approach to parenting is most beneficial to children and parents. This balanced approach, classically called authoritative parenting (or positive parenting), represents a win-win for parents and children. This approach helps children gradually gain more responsibility and independence while it has the upside of offering parents a little more time for themselves.

What does positive parenting look like and how does it help give us more free time? That is the million-dollar question parents often ask.

Here are just a few ways in which parenting for independence can build crucial skills in your kids' lives and free up time for you:

1. Foster self-regulation skills.

Children are not born with great self-regulation skills; they have to be developed and fostered over the years. Young kids can have very BIG emotions, but limited brain maturity to actually handle them. This approach to fostering self-regulation may require more time from parents upfront, but in the long term, it aids children the rest of their lives. Over time, the type of emotional resources built in children means more time for you to handle other issues.

As researchers, like John Gottman, have suggested, becoming your child's "emotion coach" is one of the best ways to foster self-regulation. In contrast to methods that discipline children's emotional outbursts with time-outs or punishments, emotion coaching allows you to focus on the underlying meaning of your child's outburst.

The focus is on trying to empathize with their feelings, giving them the language to discuss their emotions and then working with the child to solve the problem or set limits on their behavior (as needed).

In day-to-day life, what emotion coaching means for parents is that they no longer have to referee every sibling squabble and over time, tantrums will become fewer and less dramatic. While more time-consuming at first, over time this approach provides children with the emotional skills to handle conflict themselves so you can gradual step away.

2. Allow for boredom.

This is one of the secret hallmarks of positive parenting. Since positive parenting focuses on getting at the root cause of our children's misbehavior, we often find boredom at the end of this process. Some parents believe the answer to boredom is to find more ways to entertain the kids, but positive parenting looks at this from another angle.

By allowing boredom, we teach our kids how to cope with that uncomfortable feeling so they learn how to handle it. Once you get past the initial "whining phase" of boredom, kids will often emerge much more resourceful than you expect. They find a toy they haven't used in months, make up a new game, or otherwise entertain themselves. This is when the magic happens.

When we do not "rescue" them from the uncomfortable feeling of boredom, their world opens up to a whole new set of skills they didn't know they had.

As with self-regulation, the skill of coping with boredom takes time to develop. Once you allow yourself and your kids to be open to the possibilities that boredom brings, you will find yourself with more free time instead of trying to distract your kids with new activities.

3. Ignore (some) misbehavior.

I know this one sounds controversial. Why would you ignore obvious misbehavior from your kids? It requires a little discernment on the part of parents, but once you get the hang of it, it can save you a lot of time and struggle. This approach really is about prioritizing which behaviors are serious enough to require your intervention or boundary-setting and which ones are just annoying.

For example, incessant finger-tapping on the table at dinner time can be annoying (we experience this nightly), but for most people it's not a major form of misbehavior that requires intervention. It's hard to ignore, but is it worth a battle with your child? Probably not. On the other hand, something more pressing like throwing toys at a sibling takes on a level significance that would probably require your intervention.

With positive parenting, our goal is to try to maintain positive interaction with our kids whenever possible. If that means ignoring a few frustrating behaviors, it helps to serve this larger goal. The nice side effect for parents is that you don't have to intervene in every little misstep your kid makes, which frees up your time. You can go to another room and read a book or have a few moments to yourself without guilt.

Additionally, by not scolding our kids for every tiny infraction, we build up the positive relationship vibe between us that will go a long way in moving them towards positive behavior in the future. The parent-child connection really is predominant in this approach.

4. Handle bedtime with care.

Prior to parenthood, many of us probably had those lovely images of bedtime with kids in our mind's eye. We would cuddle with our kids as we read a bedtime story and then they would drift peacefully off to sleep. In reality, we know that bedtime is often fraught with conflict.

At bedtime, the kids are suddenly starving, dying of thirst and have lost the ability to brush their teeth. As our kids delay and stall, we see our free adult time slipping out of our hands. Commonly, our first reaction is harsh enforcement of the rules. We know we need that free time at night, so we attempt to wrangle the kids into bed as quick as possible.

This strategy often backfires and kids re-emerge from their rooms with more requests. The real underlying issue is connection. Kids need their emotional "tanks" filled, especially during bedtime. Research tells us this is especially important with very young children (age 2 and under). One study found that how emotionally responsive parents were to their children at bedtime was a better predictor of sleep quality than the actual bedtime routine. Kids need to feel close and secure in their relationship with you before the day ends.

However, this connection doesn't always have to be crammed into the last half-hour of the day. Finding ways throughout the day to build a connection with our kids often can help ease those bedtime struggles. Spending time with them doing activities they enjoy or reading books prior to bedtime might help build that emotional connection.

In the end, these snippets of time you spend connecting with your child will save you time at the end of the night. When kids feel secure and connected, they are more likely to ease into bedtime, which means a little more free time for you.

5. Delegate responsibilities (yes, chores!).

When you hear the word chores, you probably do not think about time-saving possibilities. However, by getting kids involved in household responsibilities, you gradually gain bits of your time back. We all know that kids benefit from chores; the research on this is clear. One study found that one of the best predictors of successful outcomes at age 25 was having had chores when the child was 3 or 4 years old.

Yet, there are real challenges in encouraging kids to help with household tasks. Kids are often not motivated to complete them, they tend to be slow and they may not be finished the way you prefer. Some of these challenges can be overcome with positive parenting.

Kids who are raised with you as their "emotion coach" will begin to have more empathy for you and the work involved with running a household. This may not happen overnight, but by early elementary school age kids can have strong empathy skills if they've been coached along the way to understand others' emotions.

Similarly, toddlers are often very motivated to be helpful and copy the actions of adults. Many toddlers would love nothing more than to get their hands on a real mop, broom or dust wand. By starting chores at a young age, you can capitalize on this age when chores seem like another game. I've had several parents tell me that their kids actually enjoy cleaning toilets with a brush. Even elementary-age kids often feel empowered by being given a task normally reserved for adults.

Delegating chores is the ultimate win-win for parents and kids. Kids learn valuable life-long skills and parents gain a little time back into their already busy lives.

Parenting will always require much of our time, emotions and patience. By incorporating aspects of positive parenting, however, we can foster the skills that kids need to gradually take responsibility for themselves.

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[Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's emotional journey with postpartum anxiety.]

I see you, mama.

I know you don't want to feel this way. I know you're terrified of everything in the world right now. I know you want to wrap your baby in a bubble and keep them safely in your arms forever. I know you can't "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you are too nervous to drift off in case they stop breathing. I know you don't want to let anyone near your little one because they could be carrying an illness. I know you've cried in the bathroom and begged for the voice to stop. And I know you love your child more than anything in the world.

I know because I was you.

I was in the 10% of estimated women who are affected by Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but had no idea what I was experiencing. I worried about EVERY little thing but just brushed the fears aside, thinking this was just normal of first-time motherhood. But it was something more.

I lived in constant fear that my son was either going to get hurt or he was going to die.

It started the first week of being home from the hospital. I was so scared of SIDS that I actually googled "How much sleep do I need in order to survive?" I would only get two to three hours, not because my child was keeping me up, but because I was scared he would stop breathing and I wouldn't be awake to save him.

I would religiously wash all of his clothes with baby detergent and if I thought I mistakenly used regular detergent, I would rewash everything. I was afraid he would get a skin rash if I didn't. If my husband had the slightest hint of a cold, I would banish him to the guest room and handle all of the baby duties on my own until he was fully recovered.

I would wash and rewash bottles because I was afraid they weren't clean enough and convinced myself if I didn't then he would catch a rare illness. When we supplemented with formula, I wasted multiple cans because I was so scared I didn't measure it correctly, so I would dump it and start over.

I didn't want to be this way. I didn't want to let PPA be the thief of my joy, but anxiety doesn't care who you are or what you've been through. I knew my previous miscarriages attributed to my PTSD, which manifested into anxiety.

I knew I needed help.

I cried so many nights as my husband and baby boy slept because I just wanted to feel "normal." I didn't want to overanalyze every bump or rash or cough, I wanted to enjoy being a first time mom, but I felt like I was drowning.

On top of the anxiety was guilt. I had wanted this baby so badly—I wanted to feel joy, happiness, and gratitude, and yet I felt overwhelmed, sad, and miserable. What was happening?

I would tell myself not to worry, I'd try to convince myself a regular cold was just a cold. But then a voice would come into my head and make me second guess myself. What if it was a serious infection and became fatal if I ignored it? So I rushed my baby boy to the doctor every time I thought something was wrong.

I went to the pediatrician over 20 times in my son's first year of life. One time I went because I thought he had a cancerous mole, which turned out to be a piece of lint stuck to his hair. I felt like I was losing control of myself.

Eventually, when my son was 3 months old, I went to a therapist for help. I needed someone to hear me and give me the tools to overcome this. I am not without daily anxiety, I still have many fears and I have to bring myself back to reality, but I work on it every day. I cope and I make an effort to continue with my therapist so I can beat this.

Even though this topic is hard to write about, I have no shame in my story. Carrying a child is hard, giving birth is harder, and jumping onto the roller coaster of motherhood is one hormonal, wild ride.

Mamas, we are allowed to not be okay and we have every right to make that known. I wasn't okay and it took every ounce of strength I had to get myself out of the darkness.

If I could tell you anything about struggling with this, it is this: PPA is real, it is not normal, and getting help is okay. Do not feel ashamed, do not feel embarrassed, and don't for one second think you owe anyone an explanation.

Do not let a single person make you feel like you are less of a mother. You are a magnificent human being, a loving mama bear, and you will get through this.

I see you, and I'm holding space for you.

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Ready to bring a baby on board? Feelings of excitement can often be met with those of financial concern as you prep for this milestone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2015, the cost of raising a child is $233,610—a number that can make anyone's jaw drop to the floor.

But before you start to worry, here are ways you can become more financially savvy before the baby is born:

1. Budget for healthcare costs

The cost of delivering a baby can vary by state, but suffice it to say it can be thousands of dollars. Castlight Health found that the lowest average cost of delivery was $6,075 in Kansas City, MO and the highest average cost $15,420 in Sacramento, CA. Costs are even higher for a Cesarean delivery.

The first thing you want to do is check your insurance and see what they will cover so what you will be responsible for. Then create a separate savings account so that you can cover any costs that you're on the hook for. You can set up automatic savings after each payday up until the baby is born to help assist with any healthcare costs associated with delivery.

2. Cut your expenses

Before the baby arrives, do a spending audit and see where you can slash some expenses. Free up any leftover money to help cover the increased costs that will come, such as food, clothes, and formula.

If you're struggling with how to do that, take a look at all of your expenses and write next to each either"want" or "need." Look at your "want" list and see which expenses are ones you can either eliminate or cut back on. If it doesn't bring you joy or add value, ditch it! You might even find subscriptions that you didn't know you had.

3. Go for second-hand goods

Of course, there are some things you definitely want to buy new for baby, but things like clothes and toys you can get second hand and save a lot of money. Your baby will grow so fast and buying new clothes every few months can add up. If your family members or friends have old baby clothes or toys they're willing to part with, it will save money and you can pay it forward down the line.

4. Look for sales or coupons

Clothes and toys are items that you can buy second hand, but products, like a car seat and crib are best new. You want to be up-to-date with safety and know what you're getting. Before going shopping, search for sales or coupons before you head out. A little research online can go a long way and save you hundreds.

5. Have a garage sale

If you need to make room for baby, it's time to get rid of items that you no longer use or need. Take all of the stuff you are planning to get rid of and have a garage sale to make extra money. You can also try selling online on Craigslist, Poshmark and OfferUp too.

Take the money you earn from selling your stuff and put it in your savings account earmarked for your baby.

6. Get a 529 plan

It's never too early to save for your baby's college. You can open a state-sponsored 529 plan which is a tax-advantaged savings account for education-related costs. Instead of asking for gifts or toys from family and friends, you can request money to go toward a 529 plan. It will be an impactful gift that will help your child in the future and help lessen the financial burden on you.

7. Prep now instead of later

Your whole world will change when your baby arrives, so in order to save money, time and stress, create a plan now. Is there a family or friend close by who can babysit if you need some rest or have to run an errand? Ask them now if they can help out.

Start preparing meals in bulk that can be in the freezer and easily made so you don't have to think about food. Put your bills on autopay so that you don't miss any payments and get hit with late fees. Know how long you can get maternity or paternity leave and understand how that will affect your income and budget. Getting all of this ready ahead of time can help you in the long run.

8. Purchase life insurance

While thinking about why you need life insurance can be a bit stressful, preparation is essential, especially when you're adding another member to your family. Life insurance will provide financial support if you had a loss of income due to something happening to either you or your partner.

9. Understand any tax benefits

The birth of your baby will affect your taxes, which can actually end up putting more money back into your pocket. Do some research online and see how a dependent will change your taxes in your state, such as new exemptions available. Or, find a trusted accountant or tax specialist in your area who can walk you through your options.

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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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