An ode to the things mamas loved in 2017

From Montessori to minimalism.

An ode to the things mamas loved in 2017

2017 has been quite the year (to say the least.) It’s been tumultuous and exhausting. It’s been empowering and inspiring. It’s been a year of shocking event after shocking event (in good ways and bad.) But one thing I personally loved from 2017 is connecting with you mamas and learning and growing alongside you.

It’s been one amazing ride so far, hasn’t it?

Thanks for including us in your journey—for sharing your thoughts and opinions, your photos and life hacks—and mostly, your stories.

It’s been an absolute pleasure and we can’t wait to show you what’s in store for 2018. It’s going to be pretty magical. ✨


We talked about a lot together this year, girlfriend. Here’s some of the stuff we loved most.

1. All things Montessori

Montessori was a big one for us—and with key terms like ‘calm’, ‘positive’, ‘purposeful work’, ‘freedom’, ‘creativity’, ‘happy’ associated with this parenting and teaching style—it’s no surprise. We wanted to talk like Montessori teachers, create Montessori play spaces, buy all the Ikea-Montessori-inspired things, eat the Montessori way, and buy our newborns Montessori toys.

We wanted to teach our children Montessori-inspired math, Montessori-inspired self-care, Montessori-inspired chores, Montessori-inspired outdoor play, and Montessori-inspired social skills dealing with sharing and apologizing.

2. Getting rid of ‘stuff’

We craved simplicity and minimalism in 2017—and based on some of your Instagram photos, I know why—because your clean, fresh and crisp spaces are beautiful and inspiring. We wanted to ditch the things we didn’t need anymore or clothes that didn’t fit. We wanted to free our minds and spaces of clutter. We wanted to take control of our lives and get organized. And we definitely wanted to eliminate unnecessary toys. (Experiences rule, anyway!)

We loved minimalist baby products, minimalist holidays, minimalist homes, minimalist parenting styles, minimalist nurseries—a minimalist lifestyle in general. We needed it, it freed us—it even saved us and our children. ?

3. Peace, love and happiness

There was a lot of craziness in the world this year, that’s for sure—so maybe that’s why we craved peace and love. Why we wanted to focus on happiness—for ourselves and our children. Why we wanted to let go of anger and manage our anxiety. To balance the scary with the amazing.

We loved chatting about peaceful parenting and positive parenting. We want to be better, do better and feel better. (But we have a little secret—you’re already rocking it, mama.)

4. COFFEE, obvs

Moms loving coffee is such a cliche. I know. But if loving coffee and being a mom is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Coffee is my friend, my support system, my lifeline. It’s there for me after a night of multiple child wakeups or when deadlines are approaching. It comforts me, energizes me and keeps me going.

We will drink coffee in our home. We will drink it in the car alone. We will drink it while in bed. We will drink it even before our children are fed. We will drink it in a cafe. We will drink it with our bae. Coffee is good for us, they say. Coffee rules any way. ☕

5. Celeb news

A lot happened with celebrities this year—pregnancies, mom tips, having to ‘defend’ their mothering techniques—and we loved joining the conversation. We especially loved Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Serena Williams, Kate Middleton, Joanna Gaines and anything Kardashian. (I mean with Kim, Khloe and Kylie pregnancy rumors—there was a lot going on in that family!)

Sometimes it’s nice to realize celebrities are just like us—trying to figure out teething like Serena, praising our village like Mila, talking about sex and marriage like Pink, or asking Twitter for help dealing with pregnancy headaches like Chrissy (those are rough!).

6. Baby names

Coming up with potential baby names is so much fun it could *almost* convince me to go for baby number four. Almost. We loved checking out the latest creative baby name lists like the top baby names you can expect to hear in 2018, the most popular baby names from 2017 and the surprising names on the path to popularity.

We loved reading about names that mean ‘thankful’, unique names, names inspired by celebrities, and older, classic names. What we learned? Baby names are fun, babies are cute, let’s keep making ‘em! (If I stop at three, I’ll just keep adoring yours on #TeamMotherly.)

7. Target, duh

I mean, again, the Target-loving-mom is as cliche as the coffee-loving-mom, but there’s a reason some cliches exist—because some of them are true! This one being one of them, in my humble opinion. Target rules—plain and simple. ?

We loved Target for their promise of same-day deliveries and nursing rooms, for their car seat trade-in deals and sensory-friendly clothing lines, for teaming up with Pinterest and the Gaines’, for making us feel comfortable and supported. Basically, for making our lives better, easier and more beautiful. Thank you, Target.

8. Growing your family

Essays about growing your families seemed to resonate with a lot of mamas. Maybe you’ve taken the plunge, maybe you’ve decided to wait—or maybe you are already at the perfect number of children for your family. Either which way, we all loved to read about other mamas’ takes.

Whether it was contemplating baby number three or preparing for baby number two’s arrival or knowing how to ask for help (the second or third time around)—you wanted the 4-1-1 on what more children would be like.

9. Self-care

Self-care rose to the top of our priority list this year. Maybe (hopefully!) we were able to make more time for it, but either way—we were definitely thinking about it. Everything from what to do when self-care seems like one more thing you need to cross off your to-do list to self-care ideas for exhausted parents. Everything from making time for it (particularly in the morning or during nap time) to believing that taking time for ourselves truly does make us better mothers and partners.

I think we should declare 2018 the year for self-care, mamas. You in?

10. Validating each other

Above all, what made this year inspiring, was the support and love and community felt all around us from #TeamMotherly. We validated each other’s feelings of overwhelm, loss, love, rawness, exhaustion, chaos, magic, failure, joy, strength, friendship, worry and happiness.

We were there for each other when our mental loads felt too heavy, when we felt guilty for working, when we felt overwhelmed with being a stay-at-home mom, when we said “me, too”, when we dealt with tantrums, when we were really tired, when we were trying to keep up, when we felt like we weren’t enough, when we felt the weight of the world on our shoulders, when we missed our freedom and felt like we were losing ourselves to motherhood.

We were there for the tough times and the amazing times, too—to celebrate working mothers, to praise our sisters, to face our fears, to thank our parents, to love on our partners, to revel in our strength and to feel like we’re really in this together.

Thank you for all the support, #TeamMotherly. And here’s to an amazing 2018.

Remember, mama, you’ve got this. ?

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

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

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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