How I kissed my mommy guilt goodbye

And focused on what REALLY matters.

How I kissed my mommy guilt goodbye

I was going to be the perfect mother.

Freshly positive pregnancy test in hand, I headed to the grocery store to buy all the organic food my blueberry-sized baby needed.

Into the cart: Pesticide-free kale, DHA-enhanced milk (for baby’s brain, of course), wild salmon (only in the ‘right’ amounts), sprouted tofu and free-range eggs. This was my first big chance to get motherhood right, and I was going to eat the best, most nutrient-rich foods our budget could handle. $250 worth of groceries later, I was ready to make my body a temple for my growing baby.

The next morning, morning sickness hit me in full force.

And I didn’t stop throwing up for 6 weeks, surviving only on fruit punch, Gatorade and Saltines. (And truth be told, Zofran. God bless Zofran.) All of that food—the hundreds of dollars of organic produce that I obsessed over? It rotted in the fridge while I spent the winter hugging the toilet, barely able to get out of bed.

Only a few weeks in, and motherhood was already teaching me to laugh at my perfect plans.

Since that first idealized day at the grocery store—the weekend I found out I was pregnant with my first—I’ve never really felt “in control” of this whole motherhood situation. And somewhere along the way, I learned that being a mom is a wave I just need to learn to ride.

But the perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, uninvited.

I’ve spend weeks trying to pick the perfect preschool. I’ve spent hours online, aiming to find the ideal activities to stimulate their social and intellectual development. I’ve obsessed over finding the “right” camp or the best whole wheat pasta. (SERIOUSLY.) I’ve guilt-tripped myself over screen time, going cold turkey, then over-indulging, and back again. I’ve planned their birthday gifts to perfection—only to have them tire of the presents a few weeks later.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, but that’s not the kind of mother I want my children to have.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, even though I know it’s an illusion and that nobody has it all together.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, but I don’t have time for it anymore.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up, but I know it’s a liar trying to suck motherhood of its joy.

The perfection/ guilt complex keeps showing up telling me to do more, but I’ve learned to laugh back and tell it: NO. In fact, I’m going to do less.

I’m going to do less worrying. Less obsessing. Less planning for events that won’t wind up going my way. Less projecting onto how situations “should” be and more accepting them for how they are. I’m going to try and squeeze in fewer activities, and more carefree time together. I’m going to tell guilt to go away, that I’m too busy sitting down with my babies and hearing about their Lego-building plans.

Instead of all that guilt and planning for ‘perfect,’ I’m focusing on the few things I think actually matter for my family.

So instead, here are the 5 things I learned to focus on. This is what ‘perfection’ looks like to me—

You are safe

We have simple morning and bedtime routines. We constantly clear our house of clutter. We talk about the meaning of our marriage and the commitment we have to our family. We coach our kids through transitions and discuss any upcoming disruptions or changes so they won’t be too startled (at least when we can.)

I want our children to know they are in a safe place where they can share their fears and dreams. I want them to know they can fail—and that trying hard and learning and growing is what it takes to truly flourish.

You are loved

I want them to know that they are wholly loved. Just as you are. Even when I’m upset with you my child—you are loved. Even when you punch your brother (I wish you wouldn’t)—you are loved. When you wake up, when you sleep. When mom is at work, and when daddy is swimming with you in the pool: You are loved. In our words and our deeds. Our values and our priorities. You are loved. Always.

You have responsibilities

“But mom, I don’t want to go to camp today.” “But mom, I don’t want to put away my bowl.” “But mom, I didn’t make that mess—why should I clean it up?”

I want you to know that we are a family and we belong to one another. That means we pitch in to help the team. That also means we look to the world around us to see where we can be brave, to help those in need, or to do hard things that we don’t really want to do. We have responsibilities to one another. It’s part of life, and it’s where the authentic pride of hard work comes from. You have responsibilities. And that’s not a bad thing.

You are free to be you

My younger son’s favorite color is pink. My other son is obsessed with dinosaurs. One likes to wear his clothes backwards, and the other dreams of living at the library. They are free to be whoever they are. My child, we want you to thrive as the person you were created to be. We want to help you become the best version of you.

Well always be here for you—no matter what

No matter what happens, you can always come to us for help. We are home base. The soft place to land. The pat on the back. The shoulder to cry on. The fail-safe, get-me-out-of-jail card (I hope not literally, but even then.)

We might not have a perfect house. Their education might not live up to some ideal I imagined when I didn’t have real life budget and time constraints. Their dinners may consist of more macaroni and cheese than I hoped to deliver, but this is real life.

Goodbye guilt.

Goodbye perfection.

This is what really matters.

This is what really makes a family.

These new arrivals from the Motherly Shop are *so* good you need them all

Noodle and Boo, Mushie and Plan Toys—everything you need, mama.

Motherhood is hard work—finding great products and brands to make the journey easier doesn't have to be. Each week, we stock the Motherly Shop with brilliant new products we know you'll need and love from brands and makers that really care.

So, what's new this week?

Noodle and Boo: Holistic baby skin care

Through working with chemists who specialize in natural and holistic skin care, Noodle and Boo has developed exclusive formulas that nourish, replenish and protect especially delicate, eczema-prone and sensitive skin—including laundry detergent. Their signature, obsession-worthy scent—which is subtly sweet, pure and fresh—is the closest thing to bottling up "baby smell" we've ever found.

Mushie: Kids' dinnerware that actually looks great

We're totally crushing on Mushie's minimalist dinnerware for kids. Their innovative baby and toddler products leverage Swedish design to marry both form and function while putting safety front and center. Everything is created in soft, muted colors from BPA-free materials.

Plan Toys: Open-ended toys that last

Corralling and cleaning up the toys becomes less stressful when you bring home fewer, better, more beautiful ones. Plan Toys checks all the boxes. Made from re-purposed rubber wood, they're better for the planet as well.

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

Mushie silicone baby bib

Mushie silicone baby bib

There's no going back to cloth bibs after falling in love with this Swedish design. The pocket catches whatever misses their mouths and the BPA-free silicone is waterproof and easy to wipe down between uses.


Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

We're totally crushing on the soft muted colors that flow with our table aesthetics and the thoughtful high-sided design that helps babies and toddler who are learning to feed themselves.


Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Stocked with everything a new mama needs to care for her little one's delicate skin, Noodle and Boo's nursery essentials gift set is the perfect way to create a holistic and natural skin care routine from day one.


Plan Toys doctor set 

Plan Toys doctor set

Ideal for quiet time and imaginative role play, we love the gorgeous planet-friendly doctor kit from Plan Toys. The rubber wood stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, syringe and reflex hammer pack up neat and tidy into the red cotton case should they need to dash off on a rescue mission.


Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Since we're buying and using hand sanitizer by the truckload these days, we're thrilled Noodle and Boo has made one we can feel good about using on little ones who cram their hands in their mouths 24/7. Not only does it kill 99.9% of germs, but it also leaves hands moisturized as well.


Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

A toy box isn't complete without a set of blocks—and this set is one of our new favorites. The sustainable, re-purposed wood is eco-friendly, comes at a relatively affordable price point and are certain to last well beyond multiple kids, hand-me-downs and even generations.


Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Because their products were developed for delicate and eczema-prone skin, Noodle and Boo's full line of skin care has become a favorite among those with sensitive skin of all ages. This set is the perfect way to pamper the entire family.


Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

No need to sacrifice safety or design with the sustainable dinnerware from Mushie. Their minimalist, functional dishes are perfect for serving up meals and snacks to your tablemates who might hurl it to the floor at any point. They're made in Denmark from BPA-free polypropylene plastic mamas can feel good about and dishwasher and microwave-safe as well.


Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

The best engaging, open-ended toys are the ones that are left out and available, inviting little (and big!) ones to play. These beautiful gem-like blocks make for addicting coffee table play for the entire family.


Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Energy-efficient design isn't just for grown-up real estate. This green dollhouse includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel, electric inverter, recycling bins, a rain barrel, a biofacade and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation along with minimalist furniture we'd totally love to have in our own houses.


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


Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


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


21 questions to ask your partner instead of, “How was your day?”

2. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?

After a long day of doing seemingly everything, when our partners get home it kind of becomes a habit to ask, "How was your day?" In between prepping dinner, handing off the kids, finishing your own work, we don't exactly get much value from this question. Sure, it may open up the opportunity to complain about that awful thing that happened or excitedly share that presentation you killed at work—but it usually stops there.

I could do a better job of really talking in my relationship. After 12 years and two kids, sometimes all we can come up with post bedtime routine is, "You good? I'm good. Fire up the Netflix."

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