All I can be right now is an 'okay' mom—and I'm fine with that

I know this is a "hard season" of life. But I also know—because every well-meaning person over 40 tells me constantly—that these days go by so fast and to cherish them.

All I can be right now is an 'okay' mom—and I'm fine with that

I recently had a disagreement with my parents about something that was relatively minor but at the moment felt catastrophic. It took a lot of mental energy to engage with them about it in a way that didn't make me feel like I was being a petulant teenager.

My baby had three consecutive nights of less than stellar sleep and while this is, unfortunately, the norm instead of an exception, it felt like it had worn me right down to a bundle of exposed nerves, ready to misfire at any teeny annoyance. Then, my husband respectfully expressed frustration about the disastrous state of our laundry room.


That's when I lost it.

I stormed off while holding the baby and hid in my closet (that's what grown-ups do, right?) and cried hot angry tears while the baby chuckled in my arms, probably thinking we were playing an elaborate game of peekaboo.

I hastily texted a friend a series of incoherent texts that basically amounted to "I CAN'T ADULT ANYMORE."

I have been floating for a while in this uncomfortable space that I know a lot of mothers can relate to. Where I feel dragged in so many simultaneous directions that nobody is getting a complete or competent version of me. I feel a complicated cocktail of guilt, resentment and sadness, as well as a touch of What else am I even supposed to do right now?!

I know this is a "hard season" of life. But I also know—because every well-meaning person over 40 tells me constantly—that these days go by so fast and to cherish them.

But how? How do I knuckle down and get through it and also savor each moment and be present?

There is a lot of talk about "losing yourself" in motherhood. I don't feel like this is true. If anything, I think becoming a parent amplifies who you really are, the good and the bad.

Being a mother to a fresh, vulnerable and needy child has put all of the pieces of me into bold font and then jumbled them up into a heap that I feel like I'm constantly laying at other people's feet and saying, "Here you go. It's kind of a mess but maybe you pick through the wreckage and find something you can use."

I am also struggling with my identity as a "working mom." Because I only work (very) part-time, I feel precariously unbalanced with one foot in stay-at-home mom territory and the other in the working world.

Going into work often feels like a party that I was only invited to as an afterthought. People are glad to have me there, sure, but I am never quite in on all the jokes and I always feel woefully underdressed (both metaphorically and literally because honestly I don't even know if I own pants that aren't leggings at this point).

The mental load of wives and mothers is something that's talked about a lot and it is very real. The constant running commentary in your head about what needs to get done is relentless and it is heavy.

I am so lucky to have a supportive husband who does a lot of things—laundry and dishes and school pick-ups—but there are just things that automatically default to me. Big things like remembering doctor appointments and little things like clearing off the baby's high chair after mealtimes.

I know my husband would gladly help with more if I asked but the idea of spelling out everything that is so inherently obvious to me just feels too exhausting.

But at the end of the day, this is life, right? It is messy and hard and complicated in the exact same breath that it is rewarding and beautiful. As I type this, I have a peaceful snoring baby laying on my chest who will wake soon and gaze up at me with beautiful eyes that take up 75% of his face and a sweet knowing smile that seems to somehow say "Oh good, I knew you'd still be here."

That's all I can do. Keep showing up and trying my best and embracing my flaws and all the cliched reassurances we tell ourselves to make it through the day. And if baby smiles, exuberant hugs from my fourth grader and appreciative kisses on the top of my head from a hard-working husband are my daily reward, I'm doing okay.

Remembering that "okay" is a perfectly fine thing to aspire to these days is probably the kindest thing I can do for myself.

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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

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 supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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