Hot dogs, sunscreen and all the other ways I’m 'messing up'

Why does it have to be so incredibly complicated?

Hot dogs, sunscreen and all the other ways I’m 'messing up'

Sometimes I just want simple. Easy.

Hot dogs on the grill with mustard and ketchup and chips and beans kind of easy. But the grill probably has carcinogens and the hot dogs are bad and the beans come from a can and the ketchup isn't organic and I should be making something better from Whole Foods which is on the other side of town and my vehicle isn't a hybrid and I'm late already for the school line.

For instance, I've scoured my email at least a dozen times making sure I have all of the end of the year information written down. Field days and programs and special slushy ice to buy and end of school terms and teacher's special presents and notes and what to wear and team colors and bags to bring and you know what?

I'm still missing stuff.

And all of those emails and things to do and volunteer stuff—it stresses me out.

Why does it have to be so incredibly complicated?

I just don't think my mom had to do this crazy amount. Unless I'm totally mistaken, I think she sent me on the last day of school with a paper grocery bag for me to shove everything in from my desk and picked me up for lunch at a park near school. And for years that paper bag would break and I'd have to carry the bottom to prevent all those papers from flittering away. And for lunch, we had hot dogs and beans and chips. And watermelon which we ate with hands dirty from playing because we didn't have portable hand sanitizers.

I kind of wish for simple.

Running in the sprinkler and hot dog simple.

I can't even buy sunscreen without looking at 43 options, different SPF ratings, and then am met with articles about the dangers of sunscreen mixed with the dangers of not using sunscreen. The spray is toxic or you need the natural kind and that doesn't do anything on my kid's fair skin. There are articles about how sunscreen saves lives and how sunscreen is toxic.

Sometimes it just feels like I have to settle to make a "losing" choice because there aren't any perfect solutions.

Again. I think my mom had Coppertone25 for me.
And I burned despite her diligence.
And the dermatologist loves me. But she tried.
And I ate red dye Freezie pops in the process.
Along with non-organic hot dogs.

But I survived.

I really, really, really did.

I had summers of playing outside and bike riding and going in the sprinkler and eating raspberries and sometimes we watched too much television or ate extra popsicles but you know, it was okay. My mom was able to let us be kids without having to be told 58 times every day about ways that she could be "messing up" her kids. It's really not even about the dangers of the stuff in food— because I get that—it's more about the dangers now of way too much information with no good answer.

Us moms have enough pressure already out there and we don't need 483 conflicting studies that all conclude we're messing up. We just need to remember the power in one thing.

Doing our best.

And I think that all of these not so perfect solutions are causing way too much stress. And if we're not careful they're making us miss out on the moments because we're stuck reading those 43 emails and debating over sunscreen and we feel guilt over the hot dogs and end up going to bed wondering if we're doing a good job. Well let me tell you this—my mom did a good job.

In fact, she did a great job.

So I'm going to try my best. I'm going to feed them healthy food. But I'm also going to let them get those freeze pops and run in the sprinkler and all of the other stuff. Because I'm not perfect and no matter what I do there will be a study telling me it's bad.

I'm a mom.

Just like you. Stuck in a sea of mom solutions and miracle products and lists of rules that can make any simple decision terribly complex. But you know what? I love my kids. So I navigate these waters and scour the emails and tries to remember the sunscreen but still sometimes forget.

It's okay.

My kids know I'm there for them. That's not messing up. It's mothering. That's the real power of motherhood in this complex crazy world. And sometimes even have hot dogs and beans for dinner.

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This article was previously published here.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

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

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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