sharing the mental load

The holiday season is upon us, but let's just say that this doesn't exactly conjure up feelings of holiday cheer and excitement for everyone. To many people the holidays are an incredibly stressful period of time for a variety of reasons. Within a very short time period there is a lot to juggle, and let's face it: As mamas, we often feel like that exponentially expanding to-do list falls squarely on us.

There is the planning of parties, buying gifts, the endless to-do list, making decisions about social plans, shopping for outfits to wear to said social plans, wrapping up the work year and coordinating winter vacation plans—just to name a few.

The mental load of pulling off a successful holiday season is no easy feat and it's common for anxiety levels to run high. If our mental loads get too heavy and we feel like we are carrying them alone, we may start to resent our partners or support system and take the stress out on them. Ideally, we should share the load with our partners or village, making for a less anxious and more joyous holiday season.

Here are nine strategies to help share the mental load and ease your holiday stress, mama:

1. Pick a good time together + schedule it

We're all guilty of wanting to unload on someone else when our stress levels are high. If it's not a good time, your partner or family member may not be receptive and you will be left feeling disappointed. Rather than set yourself up for that, have a planned team huddle at a scheduled and agreed time when you are both available, willing and most receptive.

It could be in the evening after the kids are asleep, an early morning chat before the day starts, a phone conversation or during a night out. Put it on your calendars and plan to give your undivided attention.Throughout the holiday season, I encourage several of these plus check-in points and updates.

2. Write it down

Before you can share your mental load you have to identify what is on your (or your partner's) mind. Begin by making a list of all the things you need to do with the timeframe (making it as detailed as possible), and all the things you feel worried about with the holiday season. Mental load isn't just the tangible concrete tasks, but the added weight of how we feel about these tasks and the things that concern us.

3. Be mindful of your tone

When communicating, make sure your tone is supportive, encouraging and fun. This isn't a time to criticize and argue. Remind yourself that the more you can be in it together, the better it will feel for both of you.

4. Delegate tasks

Look at the list together and decide which tasks each of you can accomplish best. Each of you has strengths (and weaknesses), so delegate based on strengths, availability and interests.

For example, if you are really creative about gift ideas but your partner is the best bargain finder, make a list of items you want to purchase and have them do the actual purchasing. If your partner doesn't get riled talking to family about holiday logistics but you do, have them be the family liaison.

If you want to control everything and want your partner to take the kids out for the day to give you time to get it all done, that works too. Whatever the breakdown of tasks, ensure you are both on the same page about them.

Remember, if you choose to take ownership of something on the list, you can't also resent your partner for not doing it—that's not fair. If you want them out of the kitchen when you cook, let's not complain "Why am I always the one cooking?" When we delegate and accept the tasks we have divided, we want to also be okay doing so.

5. Learn to let it go

Once something has been delegated, let it go! Your partner is a different person than you and will inevitably do things differently than you—perhaps on a different timeline than you would want or in a different way than you want.

Part of reducing your mental load will be becoming comfortable that it will be done differently than you want, but that it will still get done. If you delegate and also then micromanage what you have delegated, you are not actually reducing your stress. In fact, it may feel even more stressful than just doing it yourself!

6. Offer positive feedback

It's easy to harp on the things we don't like about our partner. Remember, the more you criticize, the less likely that your partner will want to be in it with you. If your partner feels that nothing can ever be done right by you, they will stop even trying and resentment will only further ensue. If efforts (for both of you) are acknowledged and praised, you are much more likely to want to do more of it. Besides, wouldn't you rather have a happy relationship than have the perfect color napkins at your holiday table?

7. Communicate—don't mindread

How great would it be if everyone around us knew exactly what, when and how we wanted things all of the time? Unfortunately that's not reality. No matter how long someone knows us or how much someone loves us, that doesn't mean they know what is going through our minds and what exactly we want at any given moment!

Since we can't expect our support system to mindread, we need to be really clear and specific about what we do want.

It's also important to be clear about how you are feeling. Rather than internalizing and feeling angry or concerned about a situation, communicate it. If we don't actually verbalize it, it will still come out, just in less than ideal ways. If you feel concerned about a family dynamic, talk it through so you don't feel like you are shouldering it alone. Sometimes talking about it can also give us another perspective.

8. Manage expectations

The holidays are naturally going to heighten our stress levels. The more we can articulate our expectations of how we want things to go and what we are feeling anxious about, the better we will be able to manage and game-plan for our stress.

For example, if you have different expectations about what it means to be on time for a party or an airplane flight, talk about it in advance and come up with a plan together. Figure out what time specifically you will plan to leave rather than a vague let's get there on time.

9. Find humor

While it's last on the list, I think this is one of the most important tips I can give. It's so important to laugh. Find a way to be a team in the holiday season together and laugh about the things we may find stressful. Know that when you laugh at it together, it takes the weight of the situation away and also brings perspective.

In This Article

    How one company is making a huge difference for LGBTQ youth

    Take notes, all you other brands, this is how it's done

    Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

    This article is sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    We spoke to Chris Bright (he/she/they), Director of Public Training at The Trevor Project, who works closely with H&M. Chris shared with us the Trevor Project's important mission, and what all brands should do to best support LGBTQ youth today.

    1. For those that do not know, what is The Trevor Project's mission? What is it all about and its impact on society?

    The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. Our mission is to end suicide among the estimated 1.8 million LGBTQ youth under the age of 25 in the U.S. who seriously consider suicide each year.

    Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project launched TrevorLifeline, the first 24/7 national lifeline supporting LGBTQ youth in crisis alongside HBO's broadcast of the Academy Award-winning short film Trevor. The first calls were answered that night. Since then, we have grown from reaching several thousand LGBTQ youth per year to becoming the preeminent resource for LGBTQ young people in crisis, directly serving over 200K LGBTQ young people in the last fiscal year alone. We work tirelessly to save young lives by providing support through our free and confidential crisis programs on platforms where young people spend their time — online and on the phone. In addition to TrevorLifeline, we offer 24/7 digital crisis services including TrevorText and TrevorChat, as well as TrevorSpace, the world's largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth.


    H&M + The Trevor Project

    2. Can you describe the nature of the relationship/partnership the Trevor Project has with H&M?

    Our collaboration with H&M has been remarkably successful, with H&M driving awareness of The Trevor Project and our services among its audience while also demonstrating its strong support of LGBTQ young people. H&M first partnered with us in December 2020 during our "Every Single One" holiday campaign, where they donated $250K in matching funds for Giving Tuesday. This helped The Trevor Project have our best-ever Giving Tuesday moment.

    Our work together has had extensive impact, allowing H&M to engage employees, customers, and community members in conversations about LGBTQ Allyship through Trevor's resources and mission. We're thankful for H&M's support, which helps us continue to operate and improve our 24/7 life-saving crisis services so we can serve more LGBTQ young people.

    3. Why was H&M the right company to partner with?

    H&M is an established yet relevant brand that has the attention of young people, and we're always so thankful to partner with youth-facing brands that can not only spread messages of love and support, but also can increase the awareness of our crisis services and resources. We know that H&M genuinely cares about creating a better future for LGBTQ young people.

    4. What do you see as the biggest challenge or struggle for LGBTQ kids today?

    LGBTQ youth are incredibly diverse, with so many intersecting identities and unique experiences — making it difficult for me to pinpoint what might be the single biggest challenge or struggle for all LGBTQ youth today.

    What I can say, however, is our research reveals numerous challenges or struggles that may be more prevalent across the board for LGBTQ youth. According to our 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which captures the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24 across the U.S., nearly 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. Over 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health and more than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful.

    What's clear is that while there is no single biggest challenge or struggle for our LGBTQ youth today, it's critical that we find ways to uplift and support each and every LGBTQ young person that we can.

    5. Since it's back to school time, are there stressors or situations that are uniquely heightened for LGBTQ youth, other than the standard new school year jitters, that people don't necessarily know about?

    Our research has found that LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one LGBTQ-affirming space had 35% reduced odds of attempting suicide in the past year, with LGBTQ-affirming school environments having the strongest association with reduced suicide attempts. Since the onset of COVID-19, the volume of youth reaching out to us has significantly increased, at times nearly double our pre-COVID volume. Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety have been heightened as a result of the pandemic, further emphasizing the need for LGBTQ youth to have access to spaces that affirm their identities, such as gender-neutral bathrooms, trans-inclusive sports, and positive extracurricular activities such as Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs).

    LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one accepting adult — whether it be teachers, coaches, or counselors — were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. The Trevor Project created the Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention, which includes requirements for teacher training, mental health instruction for students, and policies and procedures for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that as in-person learning returns, schools provide LGBTQ students with safe learning environments where they can feel empowered, supported, and accepted by their peers and educators.

    H&M + the Trevor Project

    6. In what way is the support that The Trevor Project provides crucial to LGBTQ youth, especially as it pertains to suicide prevention?

    The support that The Trevor Project provides is so crucial because suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people — and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. LGBTQ youth reach out to Trevor because we are LGBTQ-affirming and a trusted provider of crisis services. All of our volunteers are highly-trained to answer calls, chats, and text from LGBTQ youth 24/7 when they are feeling suicidal or need a safe, non-judgmental place to talk.

    Almost three-quarters of youth stated that they either would not or were unsure if they would have another service if The Trevor Project did not exist. We aim to be there for every young LGBTQ person in crisis with a clear message: you are loved, your life has value, and you are never alone.

    7. What do you think the responsibility is for brands to be involved in pro-social, activism-related work?

    Everyone can play a role in creating change and building progress in our society. Brands — especially those with large platforms and influence — have a responsibility to fulfill that role as well. We recognize H&M and our other brand partners for helping spur progress on important issues, and we encourage others to follow suit. Beyond the essential financial support that brands can provide to nonprofits like The Trevor Project, there's also a direct benefit for the community when brands are loud about their support of Pride; we've found that more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community positively impact how they feel about being LGBTQ. Finally, it's important to remember that Pride doesn't begin and end in June — the opportunity to support Pride is 365 days a year. We are thrilled to have H&M as a year-round partner for The Trevor Project, demonstrating their authentic support for our work.

    8. What is one of the biggest impacts or positive results you have seen come from the partnership between The Trevor Project and H&M?

    We wouldn't be able to do the work we do and make the progress we've made without our brand partners like H&M. The Trevor Project has experienced significant growth in the last few years with the implementation of our five key program areas: crisis services, peer support, research, education and public awareness, and advocacy. Since 2019, we've been working to scale our volunteer training to increase the number of crisis services counselors on a yearly basis. In addition to original, intersectional monthly research briefs, our research team launched the world's largest survey of LGBTQ youth mental health in 2019, and has released a total of three national, annual reports. We've ramped up Trevor's advocacy work on the local, state, and federal levels to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, including bills to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy that have been in introduced in 40 states. H&M's partnership helps us advance this work by raising significant funds and awareness for our mission. During June 2021, when H&M served as one of our key Pride Partners, our crisis counselors served over 19,500 crisis contacts with free, confidential support via phone, chat, and text.

    9. How important is it for LGBTQ+ youth to see allies in popular culture, be it a celebrity or high profile person, mainstream brand, etc.?

    LGBTQ representation in the mainstream media is extremely important as it makes LGBTQ youth feel seen, validated, and confident that they are not alone. Over 80% of youth said that celebrities who are LGBTQ positively influence how they feel about being LGBTQ, and more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community have a positive impact on their LGBTQ identity. As we continue to see increased visibility for marginalized communities in popular culture, diverse images will become normalized, which in turn creates a safer, more accepting world for all of us.

    10. For people who want to get involved with a cause like The Trevor Project, what is the best way to make a difference?

    There are a number of ways to get involved with The Trevor Project – from making a donation (TheTrevorProject.org/Donate) to applying to be a volunteer (TheTrevorProject.org/Volunteer) to spreading the word about our resources.

    Affirming spaces and support systems work to save young LGBTQ lives. People can be active in their communities to ensure that more safe, affirming spaces are available and thriving. Even making an effort to respect someone's pronouns and encouraging those around you to do the same can make a huge difference. Our research has also found that LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt. If you get the opportunity, be that one person for a young person in your life.

    If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project's trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

    Our Partners

    This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

    One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

    I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


    Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

    The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

    Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

    Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

    Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

    Woodland Snug comforter

    Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

    The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

    $249

    Braided Pom Pom Throw

    Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

    $145

    Lumbar pillow

    sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

    What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

    $65

    Crystal infused sleep mask

    sunday citizen sleep mask

    Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

    $40

    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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    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

    We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

    Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

    When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

    Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class

    pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

    $79

    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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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

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


    Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

    $139

    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    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

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    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

    Sensory play set

    kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

    Filled with sand or water, this compact-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.

    $19.95

    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

    Foam pogo stick

    Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

    green-toys-dump-truck

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

    $22

    Hopper ball

    Hopper ball

    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

    $14.99

    Pull-along ducks

    janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

    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.

    $16.99

    Rocking chair seesaw

    Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

    $79.99

    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.

    $79.99

    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.

    $24.75

    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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    31 popular girl names + their beautiful meanings

    From Olivia to Charlotte and beyond, here are some of the most popular girl names today and their meanings.

    When baby name trend trackers write about the top names of the twenty-first century, their job gets pretty easy when it comes to the top girl names. The list of popular girl names has remained surprisingly stable in the past two decades.

    No dark horses, no surprises—just tried and true classic girl names like Amelia and Charlotte vying for the top alongside "newer" more modern names like Arya and Isla. So whether choosing a popular girl name tops your list of pregnancy to do's or you plan to wait until you meet your little one to choose her name, when the decision is made it will feel so right that you'll wonder how you could ever have considered anything else.

    Here are some of the most popular girl names today and what they mean.


    Harper

    Of English origin meaning "harp player", it's hard not to think of Harper Lee when you hear this name. The "To Kill a Mockingbird" author brought this family name into the public consciousness in the 1960s. Flash forward to 2015 when it first entered the Top 10 girls name lists, and it has stayed there ever since (it didn't hurt when Victoria and David Beckham named their little girl Harper in 2011).

    Avery

    While seen most often as a girls' name, Avery is actually a really lovely unisex name as well. Meaning "ruler of the elves", this sprite-like name originated in the Middle Ages and is of English and French origin. While it's been floating around for the past several decades, the name has increased in popularity in recent years, as it provides a fresh alternative to uber-popular Ava.

    Camila

    An exotic name growing in popularity, Camila is derived from Latin, meaning "young ceremonial attendant". The Spanish Camila name is pronounced ka-MEE-la, not to be confused with the British version, Camilla, ka-MIL-la. If you are a fan of pop music, you're likely know Camila Cabello, who used her first name for her debut album. Camila also has the added bonus of a great nickname build in: Mila.

    Amelia/Emilia

    Amelia is a German name that means "hard working." The Germanic root of this delicate and pretty name, amal, means "work," and is suggestive of fertility and productivity. Parents inspired by the determination and adventurousness of Amelia Earhart love the name Amelia for their daughters. My daughter's name is Amelia, but we actually came about it in a funny way. My husband and I both liked the nickname "Millie" and looked for a proper name that used it as a nickname. Vetoing Millicent and Mildred, we saw Amelia was next on the list and loved it!

    Charlotte

    Charlotte is a French name signifying "freedom," and the feminine form of the name Charles, which means "a free man." Charlotte has been the name of queens, princesses, authors (most famously, Charlotte Bronte) and a certain beloved, wise spider from the classic E.B. White novel for young readers, Charlotte's Web.

    After a lengthy period in which Charlotte was relatively underused as a girls' name, she leapt into the Top 10 in the early 2010s and is currently at #6 in popularity, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA) as of 2019.

    Aurora

    Of Latin origin meaning "dawn", Aurora was the name of the Roman goddess of sunrise. Perhaps your child will be an early riser with this name? Aurora is also associated with the Northern Lights, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis, as well as the enchanting princess from Disney's Sleeping Beauty. Between a goddess, princess and gorgeous natural phenomenon, it's hard to go wrong with this one.

    Violet

    The name Violet's popularity has slowly risen over the years, finally cracking the top 50 list for the first time in 2015. A celebrity favorite, Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck chose the name Violet for their first child. Meaning "purple" and of English origin, it's one of the prettier flower-themed names out there, and the color purple itself has been associated with royalty for centuries. While I do tend to think of Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (who wasn't the sweetest of characters), I can see why this pretty name has climbed in popularity over the years.

    Olivia/Alivia

    Olivia is a girls' name of Latin origin meaning "olive tree," an ancient symbol of friendship and peace. As Nameberry notes, Olivia first rose to prominence as a girls' name in the 14th century when Shakespeare used it for one of the heroines of Twelfth Night. Olivia is currently the #1 girls' name in the U.S. (according to the SSA as of 2019) and is popular in other countries as well, including parts of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Olivia is a strong, feminine name with sweet nicknames like Livvie and Liv, and a host of famous namesakes (actress Olivia Wilde comes to mind).

    Ava

    Ava is a girls' name of Latin origin that means "life." Ava is a name associated with elegance and charm, and has been chosen by a number of celebrity parents for their daughters, from Reese Witherspoon to Hugh Jackman.

    Ava shot straight into the top 5 names for girls in the 2010s from relative obscurity (despite Ava Gardner, a famous actress in the 1940s and 50s) and shows no sign of slowing down—it is currently ranked as #3 girls' name and is predicted to land the #1 spot before the end of the 2020s.

    Aria/Arya

    The name Aria is a girl's name of Hebrew (meaning lion) and Italian (meaning air, song or melody) origin. For the musically inclined, I definitely think most of Aria's literal meaning, air, which is a musical term denoting a kind of song or melody in opera. Aria first entered the scene in 2000 and has risen steadily in popularity over the years. Game of Thrones fans will be particularly interested in the name, thanks to the young heroine Arya Stark.

    Luna

    The name Luna means "moon" and is of Italian origin, stemming from the Roman goddess of the moon. Luna is often depicted driving a chariot in Roman art, and is a popular name for fans of Harry Potter who may be influenced by the character, Luna Lovegood. While this may seem like a more "new age" name, Luna has actually been around since the turn of the 20th century. Often ranked number one on Nameberry internal charts, it has a solid place in the top 20 most popular girl names. So popular, in fact, that celebrities like Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, and Penelope Cruz and Javier Barden picked Luna for their little girls.

    Isla

    Of Spanish and Scottish origin, the name Isla means "island" in Spanish. This top girls name is part of a growing trend of classic, old-fashioned names and is also popular in Europe, particularly England, Wales and Scotland. You may think of the actress Isla Fisher, too? Names that end in "a" tend to be popular: Ava, Ada, Ella, Emma… the list goes on!

    Hazel

    The name Hazel is a girl's name of English origin meaning "the hazelnut tree". I think it's fair to say Julia Roberts helped bring this old-fashioned name back into popularity when she named one of her twins Hazel in 2004, and it has maintained a place on popularity lists ever since. Most recently, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski named one of their daughters Hazel. This botanical and nature-inspired name is really quite pretty. And while it can be found in literature periodically, the most influential Hazel of recent years is the heroine of John Green's Fault in Our Stars.

    Scarlett

    This may seem obvious, but the name Scarlett means "red" and is of English origin. According to Nameberry, the word is thought to derive from the Arabic siklāt, referring to silks dyed with kermes. Among them, the fanciest color was scarlet red. Scarlett is also one of the most popular girls' names starting with S, right up there with Saylor and Savannah. While some might immediately think of Scarlett O'Hara from the movie Gone With the Wind, these days actress Scarlett Johansson is top of mind.

    Maeve

    A popular name in Ireland and now in the United States, Maeve means "she who intoxicates". The name appears in Irish mythology in two forms, one as the powerful warrior Queen of Connacht, and the other as the Queen of the fairies. According to Nameberry, Maeve "makes an excellent first or middle name choice, with more character and resonance than Mae/May and more modern charm than Mavis." You be the judge.

    Nora/Norah

    Another name of Irish origin tops popular names for girls list: Nora. Meaning "light", Nora has two separate origin stories, and is said to be a derivative of both Honora (based on the Latin word honor) and Eleanor (a shorter form of Eleanora).

    This lovely name (another ending in "a") has only grown in popularity over the years. I think immediately of author and screenwriter Nora Ephron, and singer Norah Jones

    Sophia/Sofia

    Sophia is a Greek name that means "wisdom." Sophia was the #1 girls' name for much of the early 2010s, and it remains a top choice for parents wanting to give their child a name that signifies intelligence and grace on their little girls.

    Sophia has a sophisticated and international appeal that gives it extra staying power (I'm thinking of Sophia Loren) with popular variants that include the French Sophie and the Italian Sofia.

    Chloe

    Chloe is a girls' name meaning "a young green shoot," and was the springtime name of the ancient Greek goddess of fertility Demeter. A classic name that peaked in popularity in the early 2000s, Chloe has now begun trending downward slightly in the ranks. Notable women named Chloe include the actress Chloe Grace Moretz, the Kardashian sister Khloe, and (surprise!) award-winning author Toni Morrison, who was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford.

    Freya/Freja

    The name Freya is a girl's name of Norse origin meaning "a noble woman" and is the name of the Norse goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. Popular in the U.K. and growing steadily in popularity in the United States, Nameberry predicts Freya will only continue its rise. Literary types will be reminded of Joseph Conrad's novel, Freya of the Seven Isles.

    Abigail 

    Abigail is a girl's name of Hebrew origin meaning "my father is joyful". Often thought of as a Biblical name, in the Old Testament, Abigail was the wife of David, said to be beautiful, wise, and prophetic. In the early nineteenth century, however, Abigail became a term for a maid which led to a decline in popularity. Needless to say, Abigail has risen again thanks to a rise in vintage and old fashioned names- all the way to the top 20 popular girls' names, and quite high on the list of girls' names starting with A.

    Audrey

    Of English origin, the name Audrey means "noble strength" and has been around for centuries. For context, Shakespeare bestowed the name Audrey on a character in his play, As You Like It. Thanks to the radiant Audrey Hepburn, the name has stayed near the top of girls' name lists for decades and is often considered when parents are looking for girl names that mean strong, brave, or powerful.

    Grace 

    One of the most classic names out there, Grace is of Latin origin and is derived from gratia, the Latin word for "grace." Used as a virtue name, it refers to divine grace, and the love and kindness of God. The name Grace will always be synonymous with Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. A popular name since the Victorian Era, I don't see Grace ever losing its most popular girls name stature.

    But, if Grace is too overused for you, consider variations on the name that have also become more popular over the years, like Gray or Grayson.

    Adelaide

    Of German origin meaning "noble" or "nobility'', the name Adelaide is growing in popularity along similar names like girls' names starting with A, like Ava, Ada, Adeline and Amelia. One fun fact: the German princess who married British King William IV in 1830 was known as "Good Queen Adelaide", and inspired the name of Adelaide, Australia.

    Lily/Lilly

    Short for Lily flower, this fleur-themed name is as pretty as it sounds (and would probably smell great, too, if that were possible!) It's name popularity has grown steadily since as far back as the late 20th century, and now finds itself on a seemingly permanent place in the Top 25 of popular girls names. A symbol of purity, in Biblical terms, Lily means "God is abundance". These days, parents-to-be might think of singer Lily Allen or actress Lily James.

    Isabella

    Of Italian origin, Isabella means "God is my oath" and has been recognized in literary circles for hundreds of years, from Shakespeare to Jane Austen. A charming name that comes with the best nicknames around, like Izzy, Iz, Bella and Belle.

    Vivienne/Vivien/Vivian

    I'm partial to this one as this is the name of my second daughter (we spell her name Vivian). Of French origin meaning "alive", this name is a gorgeous one any way you spell it. And if you're a Pretty Woman fan, then you're really going to love it.

    Eleanor

    Of Greek origin meaning "bright, shining one", Eleanor is one of those classic girls names that never really diminishes in popularity, and for good reason. Beatles fans will love it because of the song "Eleanor Rigby", as well as the variation Elinor, used by Jane Austen in "Sense and Sensibility".

    Ella

    Another name I'm partial to, as this was my grandmother's name and is my younger daughter's middle name. Similar to Eleanor and Elizabeth, Ella really stands on her own. Of English origin meaning "fairy maiden", could you get any sweeter for a girls' name?

    Mila 

    Of Slavic and Russian descent, Mila means "dear one". A name that had dipped out of popularity, Mila is becoming more and more popular in the last few years (it's ranked in the top 20 of baby names in 2021, according to BabyCenter)!

    Evelyn 

    Interestingly, Evelyn, which means "wished for child" was originally used as a boy's name, and is of Irish and English origin. It's also another example of the rise of vintage, old-fashioned names.

    Gianna

    This pretty name is the feminine form of John in Italian, which means "God is gracious", and is growing in popularity. It's a shortened form of the more formal Giovanna, and in turn, Gianna can be shortened to Gia or Nina, two equally adorable names!

    Check out additional baby name ideas here.

    Baby Names

    Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

    "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."


    This second half has been the happiest she's ever felt, she explains, adding that life with daughter Raddix and husband Benji Madden feels like the "sweet spot" of her life story. But having a child at 47 is a different experience than having one at 27...and it does mean Diaz will be spending her 50s and 60s raising a child while some of her peers will be spending theirs off to college.

    The first-time mama is taking it all in stride, telling Campbell with a laugh: "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    She continues: "Having a family when you're young...it's like anything when you're young: You do it. But when you're my age and you decide to do it, it's a real choice. You really have to work hard for it."

    Right now, raising her daughter (and working on her wine business) is what feels right for Diaz. She tells Campbell she doesn't think she's going back to acting. "I feel really resolved. I mean, I never say never to anything, first of all, but I feel really resolved," she explains. "I haven't made a movie since 2014. It's been a long time, it's been seven years or six years since I made a film. Girl, I am okay with that."

    Sometimes, what's right for you in your 20s isn't what's right in your 40s. Cameron Diaz proves that, and she proves that the door to motherhood doesn't close on your 40th birthday.

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