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As I look back on new motherhood, here’s what I wish I knew then

Oh, what I wouldn't give for a tiny incident of a kindergartener packing a bag and stomping off in a tantrum.

As I look back on new motherhood, here’s what I wish I knew then

Underwear. Shorts. T-shirt. Stuffed animal. One by one my son packed each item into his Batman suitcase, mumbling under his breath about the unfairness of life.

“Okay, Mom, I'm leaving. And I'm not coming back!"

Then off he went, out the door, his chubby little hand pulling all his apparent worldly possessions behind him. He was five when my son “ran away" from home…to the stop sign at the end of our cul-de-sac.

My hubby and I watched him leave from the front lawn, shouting out our proclamations of love and well wishes. Lest you think I'm a crazy, we knew full-well our type AAA would turn around before walking out of eyesight and realizing we weren't coming after him. Allowing him to stomp off and protest was our way of affirming his frustration.

After welcoming back our mini-prodigal, we listened long and hard to all his complaints: he's always the one getting in trouble, little brother gets away with everything, little sister gets way too much attention, and he never gets to do anything fun.

Oh, the stresses and strains of being the oldest with all of five years under his belt.

So we told our mature-beyond-a-half-decade little boy we understood his concerns and showered down love like rain upon him. We explained how some things in life are difficult by default.

Those of you with kids in the youngish stage can surely relate to the throes of childrearing multiple offspring. Kids tug our mom hearts in every direction as we try to manage our days and keep our sanity. Emotions related to infractions, frustrations, or accidents tend to grow exponentially because of exhaustion and the feeling that of no end's in sight. I lay awake for nights on end after our son's pack-up-and-leave incident. Guilt and sorrow overwhelmed me.

However, what I've learned looking back, now that my three kids are in their 20s, is how much truth lies beneath the statement, “little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems." Oh, what I wouldn't give for a tiny incident of a kindergartener packing a bag and stomping off in a tantrum.

From the Shop

Sweet reminders that you'll always be their mama.

Decades later, I've realized how some – okay, tons – of my worries, fears, frets, and overanalyzing ways caused unnecessary stress and angst. This is not to say that the burdens we feel in any stage of parenting aren't valid. We can only relate to where our feet our planted, therefore every struggle is relative and real.

I do wish someone would've told me years ago not to sweat the small stuff when motherhood overwhelmed me to the nth degree. I guess a book by that title did come out during my mad dash of raising littles, but I recall an inability to apply the principles. They sounded foreign with so much responsibility weighing on my heart, you know, ensuring the heath, livelihood, and safety of three human beings.

Which is why I'm saying to all of you, “Try your best not to sweat the small stuff." Tomorrow will have enough big problems of its own, and raising teens and young adults requires full-mettle moxie. You might as well conserve your energy now so you have the strength to navigate the pressures of later.

Here is a rundown of a few things to consider today as you prepare for the intensity of the future.

What matters now:

  1. Love.
  2. Basic necessities: food, clothing, shelter.
  3. A place to call home regardless of 8,000 Lego pieces, goldfish, cheerios, singleton shoes, and dirty diapers scattered all over the floor.
  4. The ability to shower every few days. Having clean insides – heart and soul – goes a lot further than fresh hair and flowery armpits.
  5. A vehicle that gets from a to b. Who cares if 79 library books, half-full juice boxes, scraps of food, and wrappers slide all around the floor at every turn?
  6. Love.

What matters later:

  1. Love.
  2. Knowing the health of your child's self-esteem.
  3. Awareness and action plan against all the evils competing for your child's soul: porn, drugs, alcohol, social media fantasy land, bullies.
  4. Warning signs for mental illness and a resolve to get your child necessary help.
  5. Open lines of communication about all things with a spirit of non-judgment and loving support.
  6. Love.

My small lists are not to say huge problems don't exist for parents of young children, or to claim that the teen and young adult years come wrought with automatic strain. Every possibility exists on a vast spectrum of experience, but when we look at the "what matters later" list, those types of problems carry a lot of weight.

When we release some of the little stuff that goes along with raising young kids, we have more willpower to absorb the big-time shock and awe of stewarding young adults.

I'm encouraging all of you younger moms to do things differently than I did. You are strong. You are brave. You have what it takes to get through each day just doing the simple things. Love every moment, stay present, and know that when the future comes and big problems surface, you can handle it after rising above these little struggles now.

I'm cheering you on from an empty nest while trying to stay strong parenting from a distance. We both can do this!

True

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.

$159.99

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!

$29.99

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.

$29.99

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. 🙌

$9.99

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.

$14.99

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.

$24.99

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.

$8.99

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.

$7.99


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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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

Our Partners

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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