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We are mothers. And we do a lot.

We work, we cook meals, we stay home with our kids, we plan playdates, we do school drop off, we clean, we pick up (lots) of toys, we do laundry, we make lists, we check items off said lists, we change diapers, we change sheets after accidents, we grocery shop, we plan, we tend to our marriages and friendships, we treat ourselves to manicures once in a blue moon.


We get things done.

Why? Because we want to. We became mothers for a reason, and we love our families.

But, also—because we have to. We need to take care of our children and tend to our lives so we can keep them (at least somewhat) together. We have responsibilities.

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We absolutely wouldn’t be able to do it all without the help from our husbands, partners, friends, parents, babysitters, etc. but, a lot falls on our shoulders. (Yes, we’re looking at you, mental load of motherhood...)

So how do we really do it all? Day after day, raising small children who have big needs?

We do it by the grace of grit.

Grit is defined by one of the leading grit experts, Angela Duckworth as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals. A goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up.”

Sound familiar? Our status as mothers gives us meaning to almost everything that touches our lives. Our long-term goal is to be great mothers and to raise happy, successful children. And it’s really tough and we fall down—but we get back up and we keep going.

Motherhood requires the mental strength it takes to keep trying day after day no matter how many times you get knocked down.

Because boy, do we get knocked down. We fail. We fail ourselves, we fail our children, we fail our spouses, we fail our employers, we fail society. But luckily, because we have grit, we also have humility which author of Getting Grit Caroline Adams Miller defines as, “The ability to learn from your mistakes and to be okay with not being the best at something.”

I wanted to ask Ms. Miller, one of the leading positive psychology experts today whose ground-breaking work on grit, happiness, success and goal setting has transformed many lives—more about grit in motherhood. She explained to me that as parents, we just aren’t going to always get it right—no matter how much we may want to.

And that sometimes motherhood can feel like something we’re trying to “win” at.

But we may never actually feel like we’re winning, because we don’t always get a ‘thank you’ or ‘great job!’ at the end of the day.

But what Ms. Miller suggests we do when we don’t get things right is to turn to our peers and the experts in the field to learn from them. Gritty people, Ms. Miller believes, learn from other people’s mistakes and failures to better their own lives.

So when my sister shares something she learned from a mom-mistake she made, I can apply that to my life and learn from it (and vice versa.) When I have #momfail during the day with my kids, I tell my husband when he comes home so we can share in the life lesson together. When I see my friend post a story about a bad day on Facebook, I can appreciate that vulnerability and I don’t feel so alone in my mistakes.

Because as mothers, we know we’re going to fail and we know it’s going to be hard in the quest of trying to “do it all.”

Ms. Miller shared, “When you have grit you assume that there will be obstacles and challenges that you cannot overcome. But when you also have the right goal, you can see those tough times through because you have the passion for what you’re doing and the resilience to get up day after day and do (sometimes) thankless work.”

The goal of trying our best for our families day after day and starting with a clean slate every morning makes all of our hustle and busyness and basically all the feels of motherhood—worth it.

And women are already pretty gritty, according to the experts.

Ms. Miller told me why she thinks women are inherently gritty, “Women have to overcome so much—being talked down to, people expecting less of them, having to fight harder to be taken seriously in school and work—a number of hoops you have to jump through to reach adulthood. I think you become pretty tough.”

So what happens if you don’t feel like you are inherently gritty?

You can work on your grit-scale, according to both Caroline Adams-Miller and Angela Duckworth.

And heres how:

Ms. Miller shared her top getting-grit tips with us.

1. You need to set goals.

And these goals must be intrinsically important to you.

2. You need a risk-taking mentality.

Have the mindset of asking yourself “why not?” in order to have more of a risk-taking personality.

3. You need humility.

In order to get feedback from the environment and from other people about what it is you need to do better and what you need to learn.

4. You have to have patience.

That goes back to the importance of goal-setting because when you set the right goals you have the right metrics in place to gauge progress.

5. You need to work on changing the channel in your head.

So when the going gets tough, emotionally or physically try to incorporate a phrase or a song or a picture—something you can train yourself to click on in your mind which will allow you to keep going.

6. You need to surround yourself with gritty people.

The key to staying gritty and encouraging grit among other women is to surround ourselves with people who lift us up.

This life we signed up for may not be easy, but we do what we need to do. It’s hard, but we’re passionate and it’s so, so worth it. We are mothers—we are strong, capable, gritty women.

So the next time someone inevitably asks you how you “do it all” you can say...

With my superpower: grit.

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Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.

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To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.






Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.






Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.



Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?



Cornrows

We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.






Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.




Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.








Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.









Lifestyle

When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) started making headlines in early 2020 the expert advice was simple: Don't panic.

This week the CDC warned that the outbreaks of the virus will very likely happen in the United States, but it's important to know that officials still don't want parents to panic, they just want us to be prepared.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Messonnier said.

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It is totally normal to read this and be concerned mama, but there are several things we need to unpack before we let our anxiety overwhelm us.

Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus response in the United States:

Top doctors are preparing for this

As the virus has spread rapidly overseas America's top doctors have been monitoring the situation. In not quite two months' time 80,000 people have contracted the illness and fewer than 3,000 of those people have died.

In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed (most of those were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan or people who caught the virus while traveling overseas). There have only been two cases of person-to-person transmission on U.S. soil, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more than 1,000 professionals working on the response to this virus, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modelers.

"CDC staff members are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, and medical management of cases; and with academic partners to understand the virulence, risk for transmission, and other characteristics of this novel virus," the agency states on its website.

And while there have been delays in implementing Coronavirus testing measures in the Unites States, experts are working to resolve issues and make testing more efficient. As the New York Times reports, the health and human services secretary "told a Senate panel that federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers."

In other words, the experts in the United States are preparing to fight this virus and they want the American public to be prepared, too.

This could impact school, work and daily life

That's why the CDC is telling us to get ready, not to cause panic or anxiety but just to set the expectation that life could be disrupted by this virus. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Messonnier said Tuesday.

She says schools may have to close or otherwise adjust to an outbreak and students may have to start doing tele-schooling online. She also wants businesses to start preparing to hold meetings remotely rather than in-person and to encourage telecommuting during any outbreak. Community activities like sports and church may also have to be canceled or modified.

As the New York Times reports, "Scientists don't know who is most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Children seem less likely to be infected. Middle-aged men seem to have been disproportionately infected, according to some studies."

This could be really disruptive for families

It is true that the scenario Messonnnier is outlining could be really disruptive for families. No one wants this to happen, but if it does have to happen it's a good thing we are getting the heads up.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for possible interruptions to daily life:

  • Talk to your workplace about any plans it has for operations during an outbreak.
  • Speak to your child's school or childcare provider about how it plans to operate in a worst-case scenario.
  • Ask your doctor for an extra prescription of any medications your family needs, just in case an outbreak makes going to the pharmacy not possible.

Here's how to protect yourself + your family from the Coronavirus

The CDC does not recommend that we all go buy face masks. Face masks are only recommended for people "who show symptoms of COVID-19...[and] health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Instead, here's what we can all do to avoid the illness, according to the CDC:

  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe."

We know this is serious and kind of scary, mama. But please, don't panic. Know that pandemic experts are working to keep your family safe. According to the CDC, the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators are working on development of candidate vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19."

On Tuesday, President Trump said the coronavirus is "very well under control in our country" and "is going to go away." The health experts who work for the government are doing everything they can to prove the President right, but they do want the public to be ready in case it doesn't go away as fast as he (and all of us) would like.

News

For nine months, your mother was all you knew.

Before I held you in my arms, your mother held you and never let you go.

Before I sacrificed time for you, your mother gladly sacrificed her body.

Before I consoled you when you were upset, your mother consoled you with just the beat of her heart.

Before I comforted you when you were restless, your mother comforted you with just the sound of her voice.

Before I could do anything for you, your mother gave everything for you.

Your mother is the reason I hold you today.

Before you were even a twinkle in my eye, you were in your mother's heart. Your life, your safety, and your very existence depended on her. Something I'll never be able to repay.

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It will take a long time for you to understand the weight, the depth and the immeasurability of your mother's love for you. But someday, when you have children of your own, you will understand what I now see so clearly.

So, I'll hold you tight. But I'll hold your mother tighter because my love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother's love.


This essay was previously published here.
Life

What would bath time be without rubber duckies? Probably not as much fun—but also a whole lot cleaner, according to a study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

That's because it turns out those squeaky toys are far from squeaky clean thanks to “potentially pathogenic bacteria" in four out of the five bath toys examined by researchers.

For the study, Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys collected from random households as well as six toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. They found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm" on their inner surfaces. What's more, 56% of the real-use toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build up. ?

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Although the researchers note exposure to bacteria and fungi may have some benefits, the strong existence of grime in bath toys is still concerning. They note, “Squeezing water with chunks of biofilm into their faces (which is not unexpected behavior for these users) may result in eye, ear, wound or even gastro-intestinal tract infections."

Besides tossing all your bath toys, what can parents do?

The researchers say more experimental work is needed. But, for starters, it doesn't hurt to remove water from the toys after usage or give them a good, regular dunk in boiling water. The researchers also said they would like to see more regulations on the polymeric materials used for many bath toys.

There is, however, one simple solution—it just comes at the cost of rubber duckie's squeak. “In fact, the easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole," the researchers say of toys like this water-tight duck. “But where is the fun in that?"

[A version of this post originally appeared April 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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