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How to boost your happiness when motherhood feels SO hard

Robert Brault said, "In the happiest of our childhood memories, our parents were happy, too." I feel that this is such a meaningful sentiment. Our children's happiness does rely, at least in part, on our own, and yet modern day mothering is making joy harder and harder to grasp.

As we become increasingly lonely, busy, and stretched too thin, our own happiness suffers, and with it, so does our children's happiness because the emotional connection between mother and child is a strong one. Our own stress, sadness and negativity trickles down to our children, and we usually see the effects of it in their behavior.

The good news is that there are simple, effective strategies we can do to increase our own happiness levels. Here are just three of them.

1. Create just 10 minutes of joy

I used to tackle big goals for increasing my own happiness. Determined to feel more joy, I'd promise to exercise, meditate, listen to music, sleep more and spend lots of quality one-on-one time with my kids. The problem was that life never really slowed down enough to make way for all of my new happiness habits. Yesterday's responsibilities were still present today, and I'd end up feeling frustrated because there simply wasn't enough time to check off all of the boxes that were supposed to make me feel happier!

Then, one day, I decided I'd just start small. No overwhelming to-do list and no guilt for not adding (and finishing) more on my already overflowing plate. I'd just keep it simple. I chose to start with 10 tiny minutes a day. I decided that for 10 straight minutes, I'd simply put everything aside and focus on being present with my family. That's it.

This small plan yielded big results. When I began to focus on intentionally noticing the good things in my life and on feeling joy from being with the ones I loved, even for just ten minutes, I started feeling joyful and more connected to my family. Those 10 mindful minutes a day made me a happier mom, and I think this strategy will help you, too.

2. Define what you want

We live in a society that fills our heads with voices and opinions day in and day out. Everyone has an opinion on how we should mother our children, and they will share it with us freely and frequently. Gone are the days when a few family members and close friends offered their advice. Today we are bombarded with a never-ending stream of information and opinions.

The problem is that it has become very difficult to separate fact from opinion and to separate your own voice from everyone else's. It's easy to second-guess every decision and feel like you're messing everything up when your head becomes cluttered with all that noise.

Mama, a simple strategy to clear out all that clutter is to get crystal clear about what it is that you want and need, about what you believe and why, and to learn the sound of your own voice again. After all, you cannot align with your truth until you know what your truth is, and living your truth will make you feel more content and happy in your life.

Begin by taking a few minutes a day to shut down the internet, put away your phone, and sit in silence. Just three to five minutes of stillness can bring clarity. Pay attention to which thoughts feel right to you. Which ones energize you and which leave you feeling depleted? Which bring on feelings of stress, and which bring on feelings of peace? When you determine what you want, need, and believe, hold to your truth, mama. Don't let the opinions of others rock you easily.

3. Fill your cup with mini indulgences

There's lots of talk about how mothers need self-care, but so much of the advice for doing it is impractical. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't "sleep when the baby slept." I couldn't "get up hours before my children" so I could have alone time because we co-slept, and getting up always woke them up. I learned an important lesson about self-care during my early years of motherhood—that I could decide what self-care meant for me.

I had to examine the ideas I had in my mind about what self-care was supposed to look like because, honestly, part of what left me feeling deprived was my unrealistic expectation that self-care had to be stolen hours from my previous life when I could take weekend trips with just my husband or read a novel while soaking in a tub of bubbles.

Date night didn't have to be a two-hour movie followed by dinner out. It could be sitting across from each other in the living room with a couple of Hot Pockets. What truly mattered was that we were connecting.

Catching up with friends didn't have to mean a book club meeting or going to the café. It might look like a 10-minute FaceTime chat to catch up with each other. I could be as rejuvenated by the nightly laughs with my kids as we went on pretend adventures into space as I could with a deep-conditioning treatment and polishing my nails. It was really a matter of perspective and of gratitude.

So I let go of unrealistic ideas about self-care and focused on mini indulgences—small, practical acts that nourished my mind, body and spirit. Decide what self-care really means for you. What small ways can you indulge yourself and fill your cup?

These three simple strategies for happier mothering have been adapted from my upcoming book, The Gift of a Happy Mother.

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.


Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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