Motherhood is frustrating, but here’s how to find your inner calm

Feel the emotion, be humanly annoyed for a moment and then choose to let go,

Motherhood is frustrating, but here’s how to find your inner calm

There exists this brief moment upon receiving an experience where a choice is offered. In this space, choosing to take a calm breath can make all the difference.

This aware breath extends time just enough to shift from an emotionally driven reaction to a consciously chosen response.

A deep breath has this remarkable power to provide a pause before reacting while also activating the nervous system responsible for creating calm in the body and mind. When we are calm we are able to make decisions that help not hurt. Our thoughts are rooted in love and our actions stem from kindness.

Being a parent is hard—I don’t believe saying this means I don’t love my children or am not grateful for the blessed opportunity to be a parent. On the contrary, perhaps it means that the colossal care carried can feel heavy at times.

As a mother of two young children I feel this depth of love that is truly difficult to describe. I am discovering that this journey of parenthood is revealing parts of me unseen. I have been opened to limitless love and pushed to my limits of patience. I have felt exhausted, exasperated, eager, and excited, all in one moment.

I am learning that the only way to truly release frustration is to feel it first. To be in it and then release it with the continuously moving change that will fade into the past, as everything does.

I give myself permission to feel upset and with that same awareness offer myself a deep breath. Then, with ease, I consciously mind-shift to goodness, choosing to see the positive and feel the flow of gratitude.

In my desire to intentionally create a peaceful environment it is essential that I parent from a place of calm instead of circumstance-compelled chaos. Through deep listening and forgiving practices, I can connect to my calm center by taking a few aware deep breaths, and then encouraging my children to do the same.

We breathe all day long, most of the time unaware of this miraculous energy sustaining us.

When we pause to take a deep breath, we stop long enough to be fully present in a moment while also filling every cell of our body with new and nourishing air. With each breath we create space to connect, to calm, and to care.

While waiting for my young son to buckle his seatbelt in the morning, I often find myself standing at the door, consciously turning to face the trees to take a calm breath instead of impatiently telling him to “hurry up” while he plays with the buckle and sings a song. I will continue this practice until his buckle song drifts into the past as he matures a little more in the present. (And then I may hear it in my head every time I buckle my seatbelt in the years that follow, and will probably smile.)

It has been an evolving practice to sense the tension rising in my body and receive it as a message to take a deep breath, to lovingly respond and not irritably react. Like every practice, it is not perfect, and sometimes the calm breath doesn’t come quick enough and I have to apologize to my children and myself. And I believe that it is okay for them to know I am not perfect; maybe it will guide them to accept their imperfections too.

I have been witness to the beautiful sight of my children taking a deep breath and encouraging the other to “just take a calm breath” upon moments of frustration. I have felt the joy of holding an irritated child as together we took conscious calm breaths, connecting to one another in a most sacred way. And I have gratefully experienced the bliss of little arms wrapped around me while the words “calm breath mommy” are whispered in my ear.

I encourage my kindred mamas (and papas) to take a calm breath upon reacting on emotion. I lovingly urge you to feel first, create space second, and live last.

Feel the emotion, be humanly annoyed for a moment and then choose to let go, knowing that carrying anger does not support you or your child(ren). We can’t avoid all unsettling circumstances, but we can choose how we hold them.

Take a deep breath with an intention to create calm, and live from this place of calm. Think calm and be calm.Offer yourself a time-out, or rather, a time-in. A simple breath can connect you to your calm center.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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


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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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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