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Mama needs help, but she's not going to ask.

Because she thinks she should be able to do it all.

Even though she's one person, she thinks she alone should calm all the temper tantrums.

Answer all the work emails.

Clean all the rooms.

Make all the deadlines.

Schedule all the appointments.

Organize all the playdates.

But the truth is, it's exhausting to manage everything on her plate. On average, mothers work 98 hours a week. Throw in the mental load of motherhood (she's solving parenting dilemmas in her sleep, too) and you have a recipe for serious burnout.

Motherhood is meaningful and beautiful, but it's exhaustingly unrelenting.

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Mama needs help.

Here are 50 ways you can lighten a mother's load. She might not ask for help, but if she did, this is exactly what she would want—

Partner with me

1. Be a true and equal partner

Women work more during the week (most of it unpaid home/ child-care work), do more chores on the weekend and burden more of the mental load of parenthood than most men. To my partner—please realize how much I am doing and find new ways to make this more equal for both of us. Even if you're away at work during the day, there is appointment-scheduling/item-purchasing/family management work you can do. Let's find more ways to be equal partners in this important mission of raising a family.

2. Be my village

Historically, women raised their families in the same homes and communities as their sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents and extended relatives. We had extra people, warm hearts and lots of helping hands to do all the work of raising a family. Today, many moms are doing it alone, far away from where they grew up. Please reach out to ask how you can help—even across the miles. We need lots of support and I'd love your help, but only if you ask.

3. Make schools more family-friendly

Please understand that every complicated homework assignment you send home that my kid can't complete on his own becomes one more task on my list. Please don't assume that class parents are “class moms." Please make meeting times more friendly for working parents so that more moms and dads can attend. Consider start times and dismissal times that account for realities of modern family life. The more you can do to recognize everything mothers already have on their plates, and how to encourage more participation from fathers in the school environment—the better. It will help moms, dads and their families.

4. Make churches + places of worship welcoming

My kids are squirmy. They squawk. They need to breastfeed in the middle of services. Please don't side-eye me. Please don't tell me you wish I didn't come. (True story: that happened.) Please offer a friendly smile, a “good job, mom" and family-friendly amenities (changing tables, kids services, accessible walkways). I need this time to center myself. Make sure we feel welcome.

5. Send me all the delivery services

My actual partner in crime? THE UPS GUY. I haven't met a delivery service I didn't love. Grocery deliveries? Done. Stitch Fix? I'm wearing it. Diaper subscription? Bought it. If there can be a delivery service for it, I want it. I'm basically never leaving home again. (Looking at you, Starbucks...) ☕️

Encourage me

6. Speak words of affirmation

This whole motherhood thing is so much harder than I thought it was going to be. (Mom, how did you make it look so easy?) When you say, “You're a wonderful mother" and, “You're such a patient parent" I feel like I'm on the right path—and your positivity becomes the encouraging voice in my head on the very hard days.

7. Acknowledge my workload

Ask about my recent work trip. Recognize when I'm up late finishing tasks to help my family. Commend me on getting my kids to school with their pants on. (Not always the easiest task!) Motherhood is long and hard and my work can feel invisible. You encourage me when you acknowledge how much work I'm doing for myself, my kids and my whole family.

8. Show me some affection

I might be touched-out but there's nothing like a sincere bear hug from someone who knows you, loves you, and thinks you're doing awesome. Hug me. Squeeze me. Mean it.

9. Send me a note

You know that happy dance you do when you get a little ray of sunshine sent in the form of a “thinking of you" note to your mailbox? Those thoughtful gestures make me feel loved and remembered—and remind me that there is a world beyond my messy, tiring house run by tiny people. Thank you.

10. Assure me everything is okay and my kids are normal

Sometimes it feels like I'm a one-woman ringmaster and my kids are the circus. Assure me that this hard work and sacrifice and chaos isn't just worth it—it's normal.

Give me a break

11. Surprise me with an hour/night/weekend/week off

Show up. Take the kids. Whether it's for an hour, a day, a weekend or a week—you'll be my hero—forever. It's not that I don't love my kids, it's just that the work of motherhood is never-ending. This surprise break will help me rest and be the mom I want to be.

12. Say 'I've got bedtime tonight'

No seriously—there are no sexier words in the English language. Take over bedtime tonight (and every night?) and I'll feel ready to go to bed earlier, be done with evening chores sooner, and wake up refreshed thanks to the bonus snooze time.

13. Buy me a pedicure/massage/hair treatment

Splurging on myself used to be my thing—but lately I have to pay for pediatrician co-pays, organic chicken, preschool tuition, sky-high childcare, clothes my kids outgrow every six months, developmentally-appropriate toys, a replacement car seat cover after #theincident, gymnastic classes, kids seats on the airplane and toothbrushes that mysteriously disappear. While I need wellness treatments more than ever, my budget isn't in alignment. Help a sister out?

14. Ask me to plan my dream vacation

Studies show that the mere act of planning a vacation can relieve stress. If the budget allows, ask me what kind of getaway would leave me feeling rejuvenated. Time to bond as a family? Time alone to sleep late and think deep thoughts? Either can work. Plus, it doesn't have to be a fancy getaway to the tropics—even a few days stay-cation without kids would feel like the life of luxury. But let a girl dream.

15. Better yet—just plan the trip for me

I have a ton on my plate. If you haven't noticed, putting myself first isn't exactly my specialty. If you could step in and plan a relaxing getaway, confirm it on my calendar, and take care of the childcare logistics to make it happen, you'll be my forever hero.

Clean all the things

Just going to leave my never-ending list here below. Studies say that EVEN WHEN MOMS WORK FULL TIME, they do more housework than their male partners. If you really want to lighten a mother's mental load, can someone other than mom clean something? Everything?

16. Laundry

It never ends. HELP.

17. All surfaces + floors

Why are they so sticky? Wait, on second thought—I don't want to know.

18. Fridge

Things just get lost in there, man.

19. Car

It's basically a coffee cup and Cheerios storage center

20. Email inbox, if you dare

^Enough said.

Notice *me*

21. Don't just ask about my kids

After you ask “How are the kids doing?" ask me how I'm doing, too. (Please.) Since becoming a mom, I feel like I've become a little bit invisible—like, “Meet Liz, the human who brought you this child."

22. Ask me about how I spend my days, not if I'm “'just' a mom"

If you know I work a job, ask how it's going. Inquire about the new project I'm working on or that new passion project I'm throwing myself into. If I'm a stay-at-home mom, ask me about how I spend my days and what I love to do outside of being a mom. Show me you're interested in who I am as a person.

23. Keep me company

Listen without trying to solve anything. Be present in my life, even without specific hangout plans. Be a warm body when I'm feeling lonely. (And new motherhood can feel REALLY lonely.) Be present for me physically.

24. Ask for my opinion about something other than my kids

Don't get me wrong, I love my children more than anything and have very strong opinions about my favorite toddler products, but I'd love to be asked about my life outside of motherhood. I have done a lot of reading recently on [insert important political topic here] and I'd love to talk with you about it. But I feel almost-invisible when I'm only asked about my kids. Hello, real life adult human person here!

25. Specific compliments go a long way

You love my dress? Thank you! I haven't felt like a fashionista since 2008 but it's so appreciated. Adore my parenting style? Let me know! It will encourage me during the hard days. I need to hear that I'm doing something right in this challenging day-to-day life—so your compliments are oh-so appreciated.

Nourish me

26. Drop a fully made meal off

I am a one-woman cafeteria staff. These kids want to eat all. the. time. Not to mention how often I long for the days when 50 dishes weren't piled in my sink at all times. If you ever drop a meal off for me, I'd consider it the best ring + run of my life.

27. Run to the grocery store for me

Heading to Trader Joe's? Text me and ask if I need anything. Chances are I'm running of that ONE THING and skipping a grocery trip is a dream come true.

28. Take me out to eat

Better yet, just take me out to dinner. No planning, no clean up, no dishes to put away. THIS IS MY FAVORITE OPTION.

29. Nourish me in other ways, like a favorite podcast

I don't just need to be nourished by food—I need to feel like my brain is firing on all cylinders, too. Inspiring messages help fuel me. If you have any amazing podcast, send it my way. (I love Oprah's Super Soul Conversations—so enlightening!)

30. Inspire me with an awesome article

Not to brag, but Motherly has more than its share of pick-me-up pieces to inspire moms through the hardest days. Did you read one and think of me? I'd love to see it.

Change the system

31. Paid maternity leave

The fact that one-quarter of women head back to work out of economic necessity within two weeks of giving birth is a profound tragedy. Dozens of studies prove that providing paid leave to new mothers benefits mother, child, family and society in the long run. Let's finally do it, America.

32. And paid paternity leave

Paid leave for dads isn't just great for that father-child bond, it actually helps mothers. “Fathers taking parental leave helps not just children but moms, too, by changing who changes the diapers and the whole culture around work and family," a government report found. And studies show that women whose partners can take paid leave actually benefit professionally, since those dads are more likely to take on household duties in general and support a woman's career.

33. Accommodate family-friendly practices like flex work

Just because your company has always expected people to sit in a chair and work 9-5 doesn't mean that it must be that way. It's time to accommodate flex schedules and remote work for men and for women. It makes economic sense, too—and will help me fulfill my goals at home and at work.

34. End the “mommy penalty"

It's time to change the narrative around working motherhood and stop punishing talented women for becoming moms. Mothers are offered, on average, 16% less pay than non-mothers, because of an assumption that they would be less committed to their jobs. Yet other studies have found that moms of multiple kids are actually the MOST efficient workers.

35. Support stay-at-home moms

Many stay -at-home moms are highly educated. Some stay home out of economic necessity. Still others are taking time off from work with the intention of one day on-ramping back. It's time to support mothers regardless of what choice they make surrounding work—with no judgment, only understanding and an empathetic ear.

Improve parenting culture

36. Say goodbye to guilt

Whether you're a SAHM or a working mom or somewhere in between, our culture burdens women with feelings of guilt for whatever they choose. Let's make this millennial generation the generation that ditches guilt for good. We're all doing the very best we can, choosing the right thing for our families.

37. Stop the mom shaming

Let's be the generation that ends mom shaming for good.

38. Use social media for good

Ever see an innocent Facebook thread devolve into criticism,negativity and judgment of another mother? We're over it. Let's use the power of social media to encourage and lift other moms up. Be the Facebook 'like' you want to see in the world.

39. Get dads fully onboard

Parenthood is a team sport. Let's empower men to step into spaces previously only occupied by women. Let's stop gatekeeping and start inviting men, even if they change diapers differently or dress kids in “unique" outfits.

40. Pat ourselves on the back

PARENTING IS HARD. But you already know this. Let's celebrate the days you get to school on time or get your kids to eat vegetables. Because even on the most average of days, moms are clocking in 16 hours of childcare or work. Parenting is a relentless task, for decades on end. You're doing AMAZING, mama.

Be my friend—or my lover

41. Be my mom friend

So many days, I feel super lonely. Even though we're all in this together, sometimes it feels like motherhood incredibly isolating. I might need you to reach out, to invite me to join your playgroup, or to meet you for lunch at Chic-Fil-A. I might need you to suggest we go out for drinks, or even to drag me to Barre class.

42. Introduce me to your mom friends

The next best thing to being my friend is to introduce me to your tribe. If you've already found a group of girls who just GET IT, I want in. Perhaps I've moved to a new place and don't have a social network. Maybe all my friends don't yet have kids. Letting me into your friend group is clutch—thank you for the book club, group date night, or post-dropoff hangout.

43. Support me from afar

Even if we don't live nearby, I so value the support I get from friends. Your long-distance texts to check-in, make me laugh, and encourage me mean THE WORLD. Even if I write back a day (or a week later), it makes me feel so loved to know I've got support coming in from all around.

44. Encourage my hobbies

These days, it seems like I don't have time for fun. I used to cook! Paint! Write poetry! Go running! But too often, I don't make time for the things that truly recharge me.

45. Date night

I know it's a cliche, but I still need date night. I need time to connect with my partner. I need a reason to feel like my sexy self again. I need WINE AND CHEESE and no screaming children nearby. I know it's expensive to go out. I know we're super busy. I know we're exhausted. But we need this.

Last but not least: Fuel me

46. Water

Gotta stay hydrated but I often remember to hydrate everyone but me.

47. Wine

CHEERS.

48. Coffee

Always.

49. Coffeeeee

At all times.

50. ALL THE COFFEE

Starbucks delivery please!

There's the magazine cover photo of the new celebrity mom glowing as she looks down at the beautiful, sleeping baby in her arms—and then there's real life.

In real life, postpartum mothers are just as likely to be wearing diapers as their babies are, and bumps need months to deflate.

That's why we're so grateful for the way celebrities are ditching damaging narratives about postpartum perfection and embracing the messy authenticity of new motherhood. Thanks to these modern mamas, the rest of us are seeing our own experiences reflected in pop culture, and that lets us know we're not alone.

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