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Ditching social media comparison saved my motherhood

To an exhausted mama who is barely hanging in there, sometimes those photos are hard gut punches that can leave her reeling from guilt and feelings of inadequacy. To that mom, here's what I want to remind you of today: It's all an illusion.

Ditching social media comparison saved my motherhood

I suppose there has almost always been someone to portray "the perfect mom." Like Clair Huxtable's perfect combination of elegance and strength, or Tami Taylor's perfect combination of loyalty and passion or how Rebecca Pearson's imperfections actually seem to make her, well, perfect.

We know these perfect TV moms are just actresses playing a role, but today's moms are faced with perfect images day in and day out, and they're often images of people we actually know.

Every time I log on to Facebook, Instagram, or any social media site, I'm typically slammed with photos and videos of what appear to be perfect moms I see every week at school, work, or other activities. These aren't actresses, but real women in my social circles who appear, by their social media posts, to be doing motherhood better.

Each day, I peruse the highlight reels of my friends and family members. I look upon their casseroles, their immaculate kitchens, the flowers from their partners, their gym selfies, and their spotless children. Then, I log off and look around at my dirty dishes, disheveled kids, and last week's craft supplies that still linger on the table and think, man, I really stink at this.

To an exhausted mama who is barely hanging in there, sometimes those photos are hard gut punches that can leave her reeling from guilt and feelings of inadequacy. To that mom, here's what I want to remind you of today: It's all an illusion.

The mom who posted the gym selfie had to hustle to get there today. She didn't feel like going after being up most of the night with her kids, but she threw on some under-eye concealer and she forced herself to go, knowing she'd feel better after. That selfie is her "I made it" declaration.

The mom who shared that photo of her clean and beautifully decorated home spent the entire day getting it in order. The clutter was making her anxious, and that morning she decided she'd had enough of the mess. She worked hard on the house while occupying two small children and taking breaks to play with her kids. That photo is proof of her accomplishment.

The flowers that mom friend of yours posted on Instagram? Those came from her apologetic spouse. What you didn't see was the huge fight they'd had the night before. You didn't see her anger or tears; you just see the flowers.

Those moms posting pictures of spotless children and impressive dinners—they are all just sharing the wins that make them feel good because behind the photo is a mom who struggles, too.

Looking back through my own social media posts, I see photos of my family gathered around the table playing a card game, smiling children on our recent vacation, photos of my kids with their arms around each other, and even a photo of my dogs in Christmas sweaters.

Not pictured? The many tears we've cried struggling through hours of homework, the Hamburger Helper we had on paper plates for dinner, or the family argument we had. I didn't share the cookies I burned, the dog pee on the rug, or the panic attack I had at the grocery store. I'm only sharing a happy sliver of my life on social media. Nearly everyone is only sharing happy slivers, and still—we hold our messy lives up in comparison. Don't al

low yourselves to believe that their lives are as perfect as their newsfeeds.

The next time you log off and look around, here's what I want you to see, mama.

That mess—that mess is magic. It means your kids have been playing, creating, and having fun. It means your house is lived in and loved in. What fun would a picture-perfect house be? There would be no finger painting at the table or puddles on the bathroom floor. These are signs of life, not failure.

The messy counter means you made food for your loved ones. The dishes means they've eaten. The laundry means they're clothed. The pile of blocks means you said "yes."

Remember, happy memories are often made in messy moments.

I admit that messes often make me cringe, but when I'm able to see the magic in the mess, I'm a happier mama. I know one day I'll wish for kid-messes in my oh-so-quiet empty nest, so for today, I'll smile at the pile of Lego bricks and mound of dirty dishes…then I'll ask the kids to come help me clean up!

And if you're a mom who keeps a tidy house most of the time, good for you! I know that doesn't mean you're not letting your kids have fun. It just means you get it cleaned up faster than some of us, so no judgments here. 🙅

Those bickering kids—they're normal. Moms of multiple children often snap pictures of those occasional perfect sibling moments and put them on display. It's understandable. If my boys are being best friends, I want to capture that moment, too. Just don't deceive yourself into thinking that her kids are always like that.

I'm a big believer in teaching our kids to respect one another and learn peaceful conflict resolution skills, but let's face it, siblings argue. Sometimes they get frustrated with each other, as humans do. Remind yourself that no one has ever raised multiple children and achieved perfect harmony.

I know it's difficult to not compare your kids to the kids you see online, to not compare their interactions against the interactions you see in your own home, but you're looking at a brief moment in time, not the complete truth.

Your kids won't live a series of picture-perfect moments together, but with patience, growth, and guidance, they will form a strong relationship that's worth so much more than a photograph.

That soft tummy—it's done miraculous things! Listen, mama, your body is lovable. Maybe it isn't perfect, but it carried your babies, and actually―that in and of itself makes it perfect, doesn't it? It houses your spirit. It's a pretty amazing thing, really.

You probably have at least one friend who posts about her fitness accomplishments, and yay for her! Really! Let's support one another and be happy for one another, for sure, but don't allow her accomplishments to dull your own or make you feel ashamed of your body. You are unique and beautiful.

Comparing ourselves to the "perfect moms" we see on social media not only causes us to feel bad about ourselves and our families. There's another very real consequence. It causes us to miss out on real connections with real moms.

If all we see is each other's perfection, we are very likely to miss each other's pain. Maybe it's time we use our phones for more than scrolling and tweeting. Call a friend and share what's really going on in your life. Listen to what's really going on in hers. Behind every post is a real mom with real worries and struggles.

None of us are perfect, but each of us is perfectly enough.

*This post is adapted from a chapter in my upcoming book, The Gift of a Happy Mother.

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The Motherly Shop is here 🎉 (and it has exactly what you need, mama)

We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

Since the beginning, Motherly has existed to help mamas of all experiences feel seen, understood and supported. Through expert and mom-to-mom advice and information we've been here to help you along the motherhood journey.

With that same ethos, we've created The Motherly Shop—an online collection of products curated for every stage of motherhood. We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best from brands and makers that really care—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

To make browsing a little easier, we curate the products based on mama needs + pain points. For example, here's our newest collection created to gather everything a pregnant woman needs.

Check out some of our favorites from our Becoming Mama collection and get shopping!

The sleep support

Belly Bandit SOS pillow

Finding the right position for sleep can feel like an Olympic sport when you've got a baby belly to accommodate. Belly Bandit, masters of creating wearables that support pregnant bodies, also managed to create the ideal tool for side sleeping.

$80

The wear-anywhere maternity dress

Stowaway Collection Maternity Becca dress

Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? They sew everything in Long Island City, NY and source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

$80

The chic but practical shoe 

OSAY the label slip on

Bending over to put shoes on is so overrated. We've got you covered with the most stylish and obsession-worthy handmade loafers with a secret. Just fold down the back, and BAM! slip-ons. Additionally, the La Babouche Loafer + Slip-On OSAY the Label beauties are made from recycled leather that literally forms to your feet.

$135

The delicate reminder

Whether it's whispered sweetly, shrieked from the top of the big slide, or echoed through the phone from thousands of miles away, 'mama' is the name you'll respond to for the rest of your life. Like all the Tiny Tags necklaces, this sweet reminder is laser engraved by highly skilled artisans in the USA.

$105

The stylish diaper bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag

Mina baie vegan stevie

When leaving the house requires as much prep as an international flight (ah, remember those?) having a spacious bag you can depend on is key. Mina Baie bags not only deliver on a space for everything, but also manage to do it in style. They're the kind of bags you'll carry even when you manage to leave your little one behind.

$178

The elegant baby book

Echo Art Bindery Baby Memory Book

From the minute they're born there are so many milestones and memories to capture. We hand-picked the gorgeous clothbound baby memory book from Echo Art Bindery for its small batch-feel and attention to detail. Made from high-quality paper it features colorful custom illustrations, a silver-stamped endive cover, and questions and prompts to help you remember those magical first days and beyond.

$62

The empowering accessory

Sontakey 'I was made for this' bracelet

Words are powerful. Reminding yourself that you can do hard things can go a long way in giving you the energy and confidence to do so. The beautiful mantra bands from Sontakey were created by two mamas who have made it their mission to empower others with these words of encouragement.

$35

The most delicious way to celebrate

Tost non-alcoholic refresher

Time to raise a glass, mama! We've long since had a crush on TÖST's non-alcoholic sparkles. The gingery cranberry tea blend is delicious on its own or even as a mixer. From baby showers to toasting an ordinary Tuesday that went off without a hitch, we think you'll be crushing on it too.

$50

The pampering belly oil

Esker belly oil duo

Moisturizing, soothing, and totally divine, Esker's belly oil duo is formulated with only the cleanest botanical essential oils. One for morning and one for nighttime, they're ideal for pampering that beautiful belly of yours around the clock.

$75

The hydration-friendly water bottle

Welly traveler water bottle

Meeting those daily hydration needs can be a challenge. (So can making it to the bathroom 700 hundred times a day, right?) We're big fans of Welly reusable bottles which not only look super sleek with their stainless steel and bamboo combo, but also include a removable infuser to brew tea or flavor your water.

$30

The pre-packed hospital bag

Belly and Bag fully prepared

Leave packing your hospital bag to the pros. After all, you have plenty of other things to think about right now, right? The brilliant women at Belly and Bag have truly thought of everything and packed it up just for you.

$225

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

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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The new top 100 American baby names, according to the Social Security office

Did you have a baby in 2018? Did your name make the top 10?

kasietannerphotography.com

[Editor's note: We know that being pregnant can be, well, a lot. And understanding what you really need versus what's just a nice-to-have takes time . With your needs in mind, we've selected the best products for pregnancy in The Motherly Shop. We've got you, mama.]

No one can beat Emma when it comes to naming babies in America. This week the Social Security Administration announced its annual list of the most popular baby names in America and Emma has the top spot on the girls' side for the fifth year in a row. On the boys' side Liam took the top spot for a second consecutive year.

According to the Social Security Administration, these were the top 20 baby names in America in 2018:

Girls: Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Charlotte, Mia, Amelia, Harper and Evelyn

Boys: Liam, Noah, William, James, Oliver, Benjamin, Elijah, Lucas, Mason and Owen

How do those top 10 lists compare to the top baby names of 2017? Well, the girls' list is nearly the same except that Mia and Charlotte switched spots, and Harper (a name that fell out of the top ten the previous year) is back and has ousted Abigail. On the boys' side, Lucas kicked Jacob out of the top 10.

The real changes happened lower down in the data. Let's take a look at the popular baby names that were trending hard in 2018:

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