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The old-school way we spend time together as a family—and cut down on screen time

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Summer is here and moms everywhere are trying to fill the hours with things to do and ways to keep our children entertained or busy while they're home. The lack of schedule can be both a blessing and a curse, right?

Our relaxed mornings of sleeping in with nowhere to go is amazing, but the conversations around the house are quickly filled with "I'm bored" after breakfast. And I've been trying to limit screen time but that seems to be their first resort of what to do with their boredom. (And mine, too, because, well...I'm tired!)

Our family has recently discovered something amazing to do together that doesn't involve screens or boredom or even leaving the house.

Board games are total boredom busters for us. Maybe you are like me, a mom who kind of hates playing dolls with pretend high-pitch voices or doesn't exactly know how to play basketball with her son. But I find it's easy to say, "Yes!" when they ask if we can play a game. We've found that playing board games is a simple way to get quality time together.

Most of these games are for elementary ages and beyond (though they are still fun for adults!), but with our younger kids (starting at 2 years old) we typically have one adult be with them on a team so the younger kiddos are still included. We love that with five kids it can bring our whole family together to enjoy the same activity no matter the age.

This is a small list of our favorite games to play together:

1. Monopoly Gamer

Have kids who love Mario Cart? You can get them off the screen with this board game version of Mario Cart mashed with the original Monopoly. You use the classic Nintendo characters to zoom around the board while using unique powers, shooting turtle shells, collecting coins, battling bosses,and purchasing properties. This version has more excitement and takes much less time than the original Monopoly. (Best for ages 6 and up.)

2. Ticket to Ride: First Journey

In this game, the goal is to complete trains across a map, the first to complete six tracks wins. It is easy to learn the rules and quick to play. This game is a simplified version of the original Ticket to Ride game (and the many other maps available), which are equally as fun and a good step up once your child is ready for something more advanced. (Best for ages 5 and up.)

3. Pandemic

The beauty about this game is that it's cooperative, meaning everyone works together on the same team. Everyone wins, or everyone loses. I love that it takes the competition out and creates an atmosphere of teamwork as everyone is working together to save the world from infectious diseases. It can be a challenge to beat the spread of those pesky colored cubes! It's fascinating to see the ways our different brains function to come up with plans. (Best for ages 8 and up.)

4. Potion Explosion

Have little fans of the Candy Crush app? This board game brings it off the screen using a similar strategy of matching color marbles to create explosions and collect ingredients. Set in a potions class, this one is fun for Harry Potter fanatics, too, as you take your exams at the Horribilarum Sorcery Academy for Witty Witches and Wizards. This unique game with its marble dispenser is a hit for our crew every single time. (Best for ages 6 and up.)

5. Carcassonne

This is one of my favorites because it is simple to learn and doesn't take too much brain power for my tired mom brain. This is a tile laying game where you strategically place tiles (kind of like a puzzle) to expand the board in order to build roads, claim cities, monasteries, and countrysides to gain points. There is also a simplified version called My First Carcassonne if you have younger kiddos. (Best for ages 6 and up.)

6. Karuba

Another tile laying game, but this time you are explorers using tiles to travel across your board to get to the treasures hidden within temples! It has a bingo kind of feel as each player uses their personal board and tiles to create their own paths. This is simple to learn and uses your noggin to decide the best path to lay, but isn't too challenging. (Best for ages 8 and up.)

7. Sushi Go

This is actually a card game, but it's so fun and easy that I had to include it! Our whole family loves this game and younger kids can play as well since it has a lot of matching involved (though they may still need some help). Each card has one variety of sushi which you will collect for points as you create matches, sets, and pairs. The fun challenge with this game is you don't keep the cards in your hand after each turn, you are constantly passing cards around so you never know what you'll end up with to use in your hand each turn. (Best for ages 5 and up.)

8. King of Tokyo

Fans of Yahtzee and supervillains will love this game! The goal is to conquer Tokyo as your mutant monster. You use the luck of rolling dice to gain health, points, or punching power and then decide your strategy for each round. You need to attack the monster in the city, but sometimes may need to heal your wounds or improve your powers instead. My son loves this game for the action and excitement it provides. (Best for ages 6 and up.)

Truthfully, I could list out even more game. There are a lot of good ones out there! I encourage you to keep searching beyond this little list to find games your family will love to kick it old school style with in a fresh new way this summer (or any season, really!). The modern game world is exploding with new games constantly and our family is kinda addicted to collecting them and learning how to play.

The laughter these game nights produces is priceless. Spending quality time with one another, face-to-face—interacting and connecting without screens present—is invaluable in a world that seems to be filled with "Can I watch a show?" or "Can I play a game on your phone" requests. Plus, it involves opportunities for learning, thinking skills, and even life lessons. One of the biggest things we can all learn in life is how to be a humble winner and a gracious loser.

Playing games are one of our favorite times of the day together—win or lose—and I know we will treasure these memories together not just today, but years down the road.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.


Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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Here's how Halloween unfolds in most households I know: Mom spends weeks—even months—planning the perfect costumes for little ones. Then Halloween creeps up and they realize they need an outfit to coordinate with the kids' get-ups. What's a mom to do?!

Thankfully, there's no need for fear or pressure: There are so many ideas for parents that are easy to make and still super clever.

Here are a few ideas for coordinating with popular baby costumes:

1. Sloth and tree 

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My little one is going as a sloth this year—and given the fact that one of us will more than likely be wearing him Halloween night, we've decided to coordinate his costume by being a tree. All you need is a brown outfit paired with a DIY leaf hat or headband.

2. Taco and hot sauce 

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I'm not sure if there's anything cuter than a baby taco and you can totally rock a hot sauce costume to go with. Black leggings, red top and green beanie make for a great hot sauce costume.

3. The Addams Family 

Pinterest

All you need is some creativity with your wardrobe, but I bet you have all these things already.

4. Bee and the bee catcher

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If your little one is going as a bee this year dressing as a catcher is easy, well, can bee! ?

5. Rock, paper, scissors

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You'll need some paper, scissors and... sharpies!

6. Fish and fisherman 

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Every fish needs a fisherman...

7. Cop and robber 

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Turn the tables and let your little one keep you in line.

8. A bag of Jelly Beans

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I mean, how cute is this?

9. Farmer and piglet or cow, chicken or pony

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If you little one's rocking a farm animal costume this year you can tag along as their farmer. Blue jeans, boots and a flannel and you'll blend right in!

10. Avocado and toast 

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Go as your favorite breakfast combo!

11. A circus lion and a trainer 

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12. Spider and web 

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If you are baby-wearing this Halloween, dressing your little one as a spider and you as a web is simple and so clever!

13. Lion and safari guide 

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If you little one is rocking a roaring lion costume this year, going as a safari guide is the perfect ensemble!

14. Mother of dragons

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Except these are the cute kind of dragons!

15.  Sun and moon 

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​Take your costume game out of this world. 🚀

16.  Hawaiian shirt and pineapple 

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This may be the easiest yet: If baby is going a pineapple or other piece of tropical fruit, just throw on a Hawaiian shirt and pretend you're attending a luau!

17. Bakers and donuts

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Who said you can't use floaties in the fall?

18.  Shark and surfer 

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Baby shark this Halloween? Dress as a surfer with board shorts and flip-flops. Add some fake blood if you have a baby Jaws.

19.  Burger and fries 

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Nothing goes better together than a burger with a side of fries and a baby burger will have everyone's taste buds going this Halloween. Add a side of mom or dad fries to the mix and you've got a tasty Halloween costume!

20.  Fire fighter and Dalmatian 

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If your little one is rocking a puppy or firefighter costume this year, you can go as the opposite. We all know firefighters and pups go hand in hand!

21.  Football player and football 

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Gooooo, team!

22.  Red riding hood and the big, bad wolf 

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Little Red Riding Hood always needs a big, bad wolf following her around. Buy or make a wolf mask and you will be the perfect pair!

23.  Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion or the Scarecrow 

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There are some great costume options to mix and match from The Wizard of Oz. And you know everyone will get the reference!

24.  Elephant and ringmaster 

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That cute little elephant could use a ringmaster on Halloween night. All you need is a red blazer and bow tie.

25.  Milk and cookie

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Got a baby cookie this Halloween? A refreshing glass of milk will pair nicely with it. Make carton of milk out of a cardboard box.

26.  Ice, ice baby 

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Dress as two bags of ice... And a baby. This costume is perfect for those teeny tiny babies that you want to keep indoors on Halloween night. Clear trash bags make for great "ice" bag costumes!

27.  Mouse and cheese 

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If you've got a mouse running loose this Halloween, lure them in with a slice of cheese. One of those cheese slice hats makes for a great cheese costume!

28.  Owl and Harry Potter 

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If baby is going as an owl this year you could go as one of Gryffindor's finest by breaking out an old graduation gown.

29.  Fox and hound 

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A baby fox isn't complete without his hound pal. Paint your face a puppy and add some ears.

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According to the American Psychiatric Association, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a mental disorder that affects more than 8% of children. The primary symptoms are inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought.

Even though ADHD is a condition that most everyone has heard of, there are a lot of misconceptions about it. The problem with these beliefs is that they add to the existing stigma around mental illness and make it harder for kids to get the treatment they need. Understanding how to parent or teach a child with ADHD requires knowing how the condition works.

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Here are eight common and dangerous myths about ADHD:

Myth #1: ADHD isn't real.

You'll sometimes hear people say that ADHD isn't a real condition, that the increase in diagnoses in recent years is part of the larger phenomenon of overmedicalization in our society. However, a consensus has existed within the medical community that ADHD is real and can be serious. Brain imaging scans show differences in brain development among children with ADHD, and research suggests that the condition can be inherited.

Skeptics question the authenticity of ADHD in much the same way they question the authenticity of other mental disorders. For instance, most people will experience symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. Does that mean most people are clinically depressed? Of course not. Similarly, even though many people find it difficult to focus on a task on occasion, only those with ADHD experience the spectrum of symptoms as a feature of their daily lives.

When people express doubts about the existence of ADHD, they reinforce the feeling kids have that there is something wrong with them they cannot fix or change. Acknowledging the condition helps kids externalize it as a set of symptoms that they can work to address and that explain why certain tasks are more difficult for them.

Myth #2: Kids with ADHD are poorly behaved.

Adults may see a child with ADHD talk out of turn or grab a toy from a playmate and conclude that the child is poorly behaved. This type of judgment overlooks the reality that kids with ADHD struggle with impulse control. In other words, they probably know that blurting out the answer in class is "wrong," but they may be unable to stop themselves from doing so. It shouldn't be assumed that kids who act out have ADHD, though. While ADHD can contribute to disruptive behaviors, it is never the sole determinant.

Myth #3: Kids with ADHD aren't as smart as their neurotypical peers.

The fact that kids with ADHD can have a harder time keeping up in school doesn't mean they're less intelligent than their classmates. They just process information differently. For example, kids with ADHD tend to be visual learners, which means they learn best when they can see the idea being explained, either in their heads or on a screen or piece of paper. Visual learners should be encouraged to take lots of notes or draw the things they're learning.

Myth #4: Kids with ADHD can't pay attention.

The mostly true stereotype about ADHD is that it makes it hard for kids to focus. When kids with ADHD find an activity that captures their interest, however, they can become engrossed in it. This can be a problem when a parent or teacher wants a child to move on to a new task because children with ADHD struggle with shifting their attention.

For example, a parent might find it impossible to pull their child away from a video game or TV show. On the other hand, a child might become hyperfocused on a productive activity such as an art project or a sport.

Myth #5: Kids with ADHD aren't trying hard enough.

Along with people who don't believe that ADHD is real, there are some who think that kids with ADHD need to try harder to pay attention in class or sit still at the dinner table. They see kids who are disorganized and unmotivated as lazy or undisciplined. Misunderstanding children with ADHD in this way can prevent them from getting the treatment and resources they need to thrive. It can also lead to the kind of harsh parenting or teaching that causes poor self-esteem and makes kids feel like something is wrong with them.

Myth #6: ADHD is only a problem for boys.

When people think of a kid with ADHD, they might picture a boy who is loud and a constant blur of activity. While the condition is indeed more prevalent among boys, many girls suffer from it, too. Compared to boys, girls with ADHD may appear spacey and off in their own world. They can be especially sensitive and emotionally reactive. They may also be more talkative than their peers and prone to interrupting others. In some cases, parents and teachers are not as well attuned to the symptoms of ADHD in girls and it often goes undiagnosed.

Myth #7: Medications for ADHD are gateway drugs.

Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants are the most commonly prescribed class of ADHD drugs. These drugs include amphetamine-based stimulants (Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat), dextromethamphetamine (Desoxyn) and methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Ritalin). There's an idea that kids who take medication for ADHD are more likely to abuse illicit drugs in their teens and beyond. But in reality, the opposite is true: Kids who take medication for ADHD are less likely to engage in substance abuse than kids whose condition goes untreated.

Myth #8: Medication is the only remedy for ADHD.

While the medications for treating ADHD in children have been proven to be effective and safe, there is no miracle drug. Children with ADHD will likely have to try varying combinations of medications and therapies before settling on the right one. In the area of emotional regulation, practitioners have found success with video games that incorporate biofeedback, as well as relaxation strategies such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. It's important that parents and teachers be flexible in their understanding of what works and appreciate that every kid is unique.

The bottom line: ADHD is treatable. When kids with ADHD receive the proper treatment (like psychotherapy, behavior therapy and stimulant and nonstimulant medications), they experience improved self-esteem, feel more at ease among their peers and family members, and are better equipped to lead happy and successful lives. If you think your child has ADHD, meet with a doctor or psychologist to determine the best way to proceed.

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Learn + Play

It's not quite Halloween yet but that doesn't mean we're not ready for holiday movies. Netflix just released its 2019 Holiday movie lineup (and if you think that's early, consider that Hallmark dropped its Countdown to Christmas more than a month ago) and we're ready for Holiday-themed rom-coms and family-friendly movie nights.

Netflix is serving up a mix of recycled Christmas content as well as brand new original movies and series.

The streaming service is kicking off the season with a Netflix Original movie, Holiday in the Wild, starring Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe on November 1.

Netflix Family on Instagram: “Rom coms. Seasonal baked goods. Shirtless Rob Lowe. There’s a little something for all of us this holiday season.”

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Other Netflix originals include Let it Snow (a teen comedy about how a snowstorm on Christmas Eve impacts a group of high school seniors) on November 8, and Klaus, an animated movie that will be a hit in any Minions-loving home as it is by the co-creator of Despicable Me on November 15.

Klaus | Official Trailer | Netflix youtu.be

And the highly anticipated second sequel to a breakout Netflix Original drops on December 5. The first A Christmas Prince was an unexpected viral hit, the second captured Royal Wedding fever and now the third, The Christmas Prince: A Royal Baby is coming to your Netflix account.

Here's the rest of the holiday lineup:

November 1

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Holiday in the Wild
  • Christmas Break-In
  • Christmas Survival
  • Elliot the Littlest Reindeer
  • Holly Star
  • Santa Girl
  • The Christmas Candle
  • Christmas in the Heartland

November 4

  • A Holiday Engagement
  • Christmas Crush
  • Dear Santa

November 8

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Let it Snow
  • The Great British Baking Show: Holidays Season 2

November 15

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Klaus

November 21

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL The Knight Before Christmas

November 22

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Nailed It! Holiday! Season 2

November 26

  • NETFLIX KIDS Super Monsters Save Christmas
  • NETFLIX KIDS True: Winter Wishes

November 28

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Holiday Rush
  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Merry Happy Whatever

November 29

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Sugar Rush Christmas

December 1

  • A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish

December 2

  • NETFLIX KIDS Team Kaylie: Part 2 Holiday Episode

December 5

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

December 6

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Magic For Humans Season 2 Holiday Episode
  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Spirit Riding Free: The Spirit of Christmas

December 9

  • NETFLIX KIDS A Family Reunion Christmas

December 24

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Lost in Space Season 2

December 30

  • NETFLIX KIDS Alexa & Katie Season 3 Holiday Episode

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My love,

Hang in there with me. These days are hard—so hard. We work tirelessly every day to raise our four kids under five. We're at the stage of life with little ones where no matter how hard I try to look presentable, get out the door on time or keep everyone's schedules straight, I somehow manage to feel like I've dropped the ball on something. It always feels like chaos.

I know my hair is a mess, the state of the house isn't much better. Sometimes I haven't showered in three days, and don't get me started on the last time the house was vacuumed. I walk barefoot and cringe, then put shoes on so I can ignore the floors for one more day.

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Most of the time I'm grumpy because young kids require a lot. A lot of attention, a lot of direction and a lot of hand-holding (despite our best efforts to help them learn to do for themselves). I'm hormonal, resentful burnt out, and experiencing some bouts of depression. Most days I feel like I don't like you (or anyone, really.)

And yet, despite being angry one minute and fine the next, I need you more than ever. My harsh words are simultaneously meant to sting and act as a cry for help. I'm fearful that I'll never get back my old life, let alone my old body. I often don't feel like myself. While I'm physically feeding this new human (that happens to be hungry every three hours), I'm battling these hormones that have me gazing at our new baby in wonderment one minute and crumbling to pieces the next.

I long to reconnect with you again. I long to put that stellar dress and heels back on. But I feel like leaky breasts are probably the least sexy thing, right?

These days, I choose sleep over date night. I choose a "night in" over a fun time with friends. I obsess over feeding schedules. I constantly Google my fears. I cry over the crib. I'm mourning the loss of my old life and trying to figure out this new one. This new beautiful chaos that we created together.

I don't feel like the old me and that's scary, but I know there is hope that things will get better. As it gets better it will be different. We're evolving together as a unit that created an entirely new life. Our old life a thing of the past.

I just ask that you love me until I'm "me" again.

Don't stop.

I'm trying to remember that these challenges are not forever. The late nights up with a newborn won't be forever. The hormones will resettle, and I won't be so weepy all the time. My breastfeeding journey will eventually come to an end. Our children will grow, become more self-sufficient and eventually need us less and less.

I know I will start to feel like a whole person again. I may even feel like exercising again. Just hang in there with me. Hug me when I'm crying for no reason. Bring water while I'm breastfeeding. Tell me I'm beautiful as I am (even with my new flabby stomach).

Love me through my postpartum phase of mourning and depression when it rears its ugly head. Love me through it all because that's why we fell in love in the first place. Love me until I'm me again because even if I don't feel it now or show it right now, I'm still in there.

I wouldn't want to do life with anyone else except you.

Love,

Your postpartum wife

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