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How did you spend your 2019? I know I spent mine giving my body over to twin baby girls, trading in my beauty sleep for late-night feedings and dedicating myself entirely to my family. That's why I've declared that 2020 is "The Year of Me."

What does that mean you may ask? Well, that doesn't mean I'm going to abandon my spunky baby girls or forget about showing love and appreciation for my caring husband. The "Year of Me" means I am going to relearn what it means to love myself.

As I write this, I think of all the mamas I know who are living with one eye on the present, spent with their little(s), and one eye on the future (where their goals live). I often tell myself, I'll start writing my novel again when the girls are a little older or I'll sign up for the gym in the new year.

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But I recently began thinking, why not now?

I'm caught up in mom guilt. I spend much of my time living in between the big moments. I'm on the verge of accomplishing all my goals, and then I remember that every moment spent on those goals is a moment away from my sweet little ones. And vice-versa, when I'm spending time with my littles I'm thinking of all the things I want to do for me.

Yes, my children are a part of my past, present and future plans. But I also have goals and plans just for me. I have goals for my self-care, for my career and for my hobbies that will help me be better.

By caring for myself I will be a better mama, a more loving wife and a happier human.

I am hereby releasing myself of mom guilt, and if it means anything, I release all you mamas out there, too.

So, here's my big plan:

1. Begin living in the present.

I spend way too much time feeling guilty about working on things that interest me because those things keep me away from my children. Then when I am with my sweet babies, I'm thinking about when their next nap is so I can get some me-time.

That's over. I want to live in the now and enjoy every second with my littles. No more guilt or stress. My time with them is precious and so is my time pursuing my goals.

2. Eliminate the idea that my needs come last.

I find myself too often doing things for others (which is great) but I seem to always leave myself out. All my family members' birthdays are in the same two-week span but I try to plan a little celebration for each of them on their birthday so they feel special. This year they told me they didn't have time to celebrate my birthday and they weren't sure they could fit it in. I was upset but I made excuses for them and tried to just brush it off. Some girlfriends called me out and recognized that it was okay for me to want to be celebrated and it was okay for me to be upset. I am allowed to have things and moments that are just mine.

3. Work on being healthy and happy.

I had unrealistic weight goals after giving birth. I thought I'd be back in shape in no time, but the truth is, my body has changed. My entire life has changed. I don't need to be a certain number of pounds again. I just need to feel good and be happy and healthy. Yes I am going to work out and I have already adjusted to a healthier diet, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

4. Read more of what makes me happy.

I recently read "Where'd you go Bernadette?" and I'm sad to say it was the first actual paper book I had read cover to cover in several months. I seem to consistently come up with reasons not to read, but then the minute I start and I get into a book, I find any possible second to read and I have it done in a matter of days. That's proof that I do in fact have the time to read.

I just started reading, "Big Magic" and I'm feeling pretty inspired. Reading helps me feel happier and more creative, so why not read more?

5. Write something that matters to me.

I'm constantly trying to write things (short stories, novels, articles, etc.) that will matter to other people, but the truth is I need to write for me. I can't speak for other people. I know what I know through my own unique experiences. My experiences may be helpful to others and they may not be, that's okay. It's for me first.

6. For the love of everything holy, keep the office clean.

My office at home is much like my brain most days—full of clutter. Sometimes I think I store things in my office just so I have an excuse not to sit in there and get work done. Not anymore. From now on my office is my own little sanctuary, a happy space where mama can get some work done. I've already started hanging shelves and eliminating clutter. Marie Kondo would be proud.

7. "Let it go. Let it go. Can't hold it back anymore."

What a great song, right? Well, it's true. I've got to learn to let it go. When someone really does something hurtful to me I need to tell them rather than blow it off. I've got to stick up for myself. I matter too. I don't mean I'm going to start yelling at every person who cuts me off on the highway. I mean that no one has the power to make me feel less than. Enough said.

8. I'm going to treat myself.

I work hard so my family can have the things they want, so why can't I be included in that? It's okay to buy new clothes, get my nails done or get a new camera accessory or book. It's my money and I can spend it on me. No guilt necessary. Maybe I'll even take a photography or video editing class or something. Who knows what will happen.

While "The Year of Me" is about small improvements in my life for myself, it's about my babies too. I want them to see that it's possible to be good to your family and to continue doing the things that make you, well, you. I don't want to lose who I am or stop doing what I love because my family has grown. I want to use this lesson in life as a way to inspire my girls to be themselves in the best sense of the word.

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When we buy baby gear we expect it to be safe, and while no parent wants to hear that their gear is being recalled we appreciate when those recalls happen as a preventative measure—before a baby gets hurt.

That's the case with the recent recall of Baby Trend's Tango Mini Stroller. No injuries have been reported but the recall was issued because a problem with the hinge joints mean the stroller can collapse with a child in it, which poses a fall risk.

"As part of our rigorous process, we recently identified a potential safety issue. Since we strongly stand by our safety priority, we have decided to voluntarily recall certain models of the Tango Mini Strollers. The recalled models, under excessive pressure, both hinge joints could release, allowing the stroller to collapse and pose a fall hazard to children. Most importantly, Baby Trend has received NO reports of injuries," the company states on its website.

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The strollers were sold through Amazon and Target in October and November 2019 and cost between $100 and $120. If you've got one you should stop using it and contact Baby Trend for a refund or replacement.

Four models are impacted by this recall:

  • Quartz Pink (Model Number ST31D09A)
  • Sedona Gray (Model Number ST31D10A)
  • Jet Black (Model Number ST31D11A)
  • Purest Blue (Model Number ST31D03A

"If you determine that you own one of these specific model numbers please stop using the product and contact Baby Trend's customer service at 1-800-328-7363 or via email at info@babytrend.com," Baby Trend states.

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[Editor's note: While Motherly loves seeing and sharing photos of baby Archie and other adorable babies when the images are shared with their parents' consent, we do not publish pictures taken without a parent's consent. Since these pictures were taken without Markle's permission while she was walking her dogs, we're not reposting them.]

Meghan Markle is a trendsetter for sure. When she wears something the world notices, and this week she was photographed wearing her son Archie in a baby carrier. The important thing to know about the photos is that they show the Duchess out for a walk with her two dogs while wearing Archie in a blue Ergo. She's not hands-free baby wearing, but rather wearing an Ergo while also supporting Archie with her arm, as the carrier isn't completely tight.

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When British tabloids published the pictures many babywearing devotees and internet commenters offered opinions on how Markle is holding her son in the photo, but as baby gear guru Jamie Grayson notes, "it is none of our business."

In a post to his Facebook page, Grayson (noted NYC baby gear expert) explained that in the last day or so he has been inundated with hundreds of messages about how Markle is wearing the carrier, and that while he's sure many who messaged with concerns had good intentions he hopes to inject some empathy into the conversation.

As Grayson points out, these are paparazzi photos, so it was a private moment not meant for world-wide consumption. "This woman has the entire world watching her every move and action, especially now that she and Harry are leaving the umbrella of the royal family, and I honestly hope they are able to find some privacy and peace. So let's give her space," he explains, adding that "while those pictures show something that is less than ideal, it's going to be okay. I promise. It's not like she's wearing the baby upside down."

He's right, Archie was safe and not in danger and who knows why the straps on Markle's carrier were loose (maybe she realized people were about to take pictures and so she switched Archie from forward-facing, or maybe the strap just slipped.)

Grayson continues: "When you are bringing up how a parent is misusing a product (either in-person or online) please consider your words. Because tone of voice is missing in text, it is important to choose your words carefully because ANYTHING can be misconstrued. Your good intentions can easily be considered as shaming someone."

Grayson's suggestions injected some much-needed empathy into this discourse and reminded many that new parents are human beings who are just trying to do their best with responsibilities (and baby gear) that isn't familiar to them.

Babywearing has a ton of benefits for parents and the baby, but it can take some getting used to. New parents can research safety recommendations so they feel confident. In Canada, where the pictures in question were snapped, the government recommends parents follow these safety guidelines when wearing infants in carriers:

  • Choose a product that fits you and your baby properly.
  • Be very careful putting a baby into—or pulling them out of—a carrier or sling. Ask for help if you need it.
  • When wearing a carrier or sling, do not zip up your coat around the baby because it increases the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Be particularly careful when using a sling or carrier with babies under 4 months because their airways are still developing.
  • Do not use a carrier or sling during activities that could lead to injury such as cooking, running, cycling, or drinking hot beverages.

Health Canada also recommends parents "remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times" and offers the following tips to ensure kissability.

"Keep the baby's face in view. Keep the baby in an upright position. Make sure the baby's face is not pressed into the fabric of the carrier or sling, your body, or clothing. Make sure the baby's chin is not pressed into their chest. Make sure the baby's legs are not bunched up against their stomach, as this can also restrict breathing. Wear the baby snug enough to support their back and hold onto the baby when bending over so they don't fall out of the carrier or sling. Check your baby often."

Meghan Markle is a new mom who was caught off guard during a moment she didn't expect her baby to be photographed. Every parent (no matter how famous) has a right to privacy for their child and the right to compassion from other parents. If we want people to learn how to safely babywear we can't shame them for trying.

Mama, if you've been shamed for wearing your baby "wrong" don't feel like you need to stop. Follow the tips above or check in with local baby-wearing groups to get advice and help. You've got this.

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At one of the most important nights of their career, celebrities made sure their hairstyles stayed put at the 26th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. As a collective, the hairstyles were beautiful—french twists, bobs, pin curls and killer cuts filled the red carpet on the night to remember.

And surprisingly, the secret wasn't just the stylist team, mama. For many of the celebs, much of the look can be attributed to a $5 hairspray—yes, you read that correctly.

Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray was one of the top stylist picks for celebs for a lightweight, flexible finishing spray, leaving tons of body and bounce. Unlike most hairsprays that can take several minutes (even a half hour) to set the look, this extra-hold one contains a fast-drying, water-free formula that helps protect your hair from frizz in minutes. As a result, celebrities were able to hold the shape of their styles with mega volume.

"Dove hairspray works well by holding curls in place with maximum hold and ultra shine, while still maintaining soft, touchable texture that is easy to brush out," says Dennis Gots for Dove Hair, who styled Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the SAG Awards. Translation: It's great for on-the-go mamas who want a shiny hold that lasts, but doesn't feel sticky.

Here are a few awesome hairstyles that were finished with the drugstore Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray at the SAG awards:

Lili Reinhart's French twist

"I sprayed Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray all over Lili's hair to lock in the shape and boost the shine factor, making the whole look really sleek," says stylist Renato Campora who was inspired to create the look by Reinhart's romantic gown. "Lili's look is sleek and sharp with a romantic twist."

Cynthia Erivo's finger waves

"This look is classic Cynthia! I knew I wanted to keep it simple, but it's actually quite detailed and intricate up close," says stylist Coree Moreno. "While the hair was still wet (yes—I needed to work fast!) I generously spritzed on the hairspray for all night hold without flaking. The hair continued to air dry perfectly while she finished up makeup."

Nathalie Emmanuel's curly high pony

"Nathalie wanted a retro Hollywood glam for the SAG Awards, so I used her natural texture and created a high pony with loose tendrils framing her face and neckline," says stylist, Neeko. "I finessed the look with the hairspray to lock in the style while keeping her hair looking and feeling touchable."

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's slicked back bob

"I used duckbill clips on different areas of her hair to keep the shape and curl while the hair air dried. Air drying the hair allowed for maximum shine and then I sprayed lots of hairspray all over to truly lock in the sleek shape and enhance the shine," says stylist Dennis Gots, who was inspired by a 90s vibe for Waller-Bridge's look.

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Who doesn't want a hairspray that makes your hair feel as good as it looks? Dove Style+Care Extra Hold Hairspray holds body, volume and enhances shine. It gives your hair touchable hold while fighting frizz, even in damp or humid conditions.

$4.89

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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We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labor as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.

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The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Max Lawson is Oxfam International's Head of Inequality Policy. In an interview with Vatican News, he explained that "the foundation of unpaid work done by the poorest women generates enormous wealth for the economy," and that women do billions of hours of unpaid care work (caring for children, the sick, the elderly and cooking, cleaning) for which they see no financial reward but which creates financial rewards for billionaires.

Indeed, the report finds that globally 42% of women can't work for money because of their unpaid care responsibilities.

In the United States, women spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men, Oxfam America notes in a second report released in cooperation with the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

"It's an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labour, whether it's poorly paid labour or even unpaid labour, it is a sexist economy and it's a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men," Lawson explains.

According to Lawson, you can't fight economic inequality without fighting gender equality, and he says 2020 is the year to do both. Now is a great time to start, because as Motherly has previously reported, no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 (one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015) and no country will until the unpaid labor of women and girls is addressed.

"Governments around the world can, and must, build a human economy that is feminist and benefits the 99%, not only the 1%," the Oxfam report concludes.

The research suggests that paid leave, investments in childcare and the care of older adults and people with disabilities as well as utilizing technology to make working more flexible would help America close the gap.

(For more information on how you can fight for paid leave, affordable childcare and more this year check out yearofthemother.org.)

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