Need a minute,
mama?
Get the best of Motherly—delivered to your inbox.
(We thought so.)
Subscribe to the Motherly Minute
for need-to-know parenting
news + top product recommendations
delivered daily to your inbox.

By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy
and Terms & Conditions

Welcome to
#Team Motherly.

Check your inbox for an email
to confirm your subscription
—we can’t wait to start bringing
the best of Motherly right to you.

x
Print Friendly and PDF

I made a mistake a few weeks ago. I double-booked myself, and it wasn't just a coffee date. My double-booking meant that one way or another, I was going to disappoint someone close to me. I was embarrassed and so disappointed in myself.

I told this story to my best friend and she responded (as she always does) with grace and empathy. "I feel like you're describing my life," she said, "so I'll tell you what I'm sure you'd tell me. Everyone makes mistakes like that sometimes." She went on to say that she was beating herself up for a similar error but listening to me tell my story reminded her to offer herself the same grace she was offering me.

When we care about people, we gladly and generously share the encouragement and truth they need in moments of struggle or weakness. We offer solidarity and a "me too," and we believe these things for them. So why is it so hard to believe them for ourselves?

At 1 year old, my oldest son Ian received a set of magnetic blocks for Christmas. They've gone on to become one of the most used toys in our home—the boys can spend hours every day building towers, houses, and cars. The thing about Magnatiles, though, is that they are a bit wobbly. You can imagine what this is like for a toddler with chubby hands and a limited understanding of physics.

If Ian's structure fell, he would always scream, knock the rest of it over, and throw himself onto the floor in a fit. He's grown past this a bit, but now my youngest has taken up the habit. So, wherever you find Magnatiles in our home, you'll likely find my boys' tempers lurking.

We spend a lot of time talking about how it's okay when things fall down. That we can rebuild, and that sometimes it's just the nature of the game. We talk about taking deep breaths and trying again. And again, and again, and again.

Once, while I was still pregnant with my youngest Leo, Ian grabbed my hand and sat me down on the living room floor. "Build big house, Mama, pwease," he said. I'm no architect, but I set out to build the biggest house our stash of magnets would allow. I didn't have the exact pieces I needed to make it sturdy and I kept bumping it with my clumsy hands. (The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, perhaps.) The fourth or fifth time I knocked it over, I let out a loud, "Ughh!"

Ian looked up at me and said, "That okay, Mama. You build new house!"

A few weeks later, the same thing happened. I made a batch of meatballs to serve with spaghetti, only to realize that we didn't have any pasta sauce in the house. In moments like that, I am likely to succumb to the inner critic who says that I will never be able to get my act together, can't remember a simple thing, am terrible at this housewife gig. These small mistakes reveal that I am still struggling with perfectionism in the worst way.

Just minutes before, Ian had been dancing around the kitchen yelling, "Hooray! Yummy meatballs! Hooray!" I looked at him and said, "Ian, we can't have meatballs. I forgot the sauce." I expected a meltdown, but he looked at me and gently said, "That okay, Mama. You no need be sad."

I wish I recorded videos of those little moments, so I could play them back for him in the future. Every time he knocks over a block tower, can't sound out a word, or doesn't make the team, I could gently remind him: "Try again, sweet boy."

Each time he grows frustrated, loses hope, and needs to be reminded of who he is, I can remind him: "Deep inside, little man, you know the truth. Failure is fine. Mistakes are good. Let's try again. You are brave. You are loved. You are enough."

I know that in those sweet moments, he was mostly mimicking me. He heard me offer those same phrases many times before. Today, he tells his little brother not to worry, only to quickly follow up with his own frustration-fueled meltdown. But you know what? I think there's value in the mimicking. Maybe if that thought—it's okay, deep breath, try again—crosses his mind every time a tower falls, he will eventually internalize it. The deep breaths and second chances will become second-nature, as much as a tantrum is during the terrible twos. I have hope.

This is the thing about parenthood: I need the reminders as much as my children do.

Motherhood helps me recognize my own weaknesses while learning to help my children avoid the same pitfalls. I don't want failure to derail my boys and their sister the way it often has derailed me. I want them to know their identity is not molded by their achievements, friendships, or reputation.

Maybe if we actually believed the things we say, the entire structures of our lives, vocations, and relationships would feel less tenuous. We'd believe that even if they got knocked down, we could put them back up just the same as before but with the weaker areas reinforced, stronger in the long run.

We'd step less gingerly around for fear of knocking them over. We'd build with enthusiasm instead of the fear of making mistakes along the way.

You might also like:

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.
Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Thanks for subscribing!

Check your email for a confirmation message.

By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions

As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

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


Our Partners

I had heard about the wildly popular 10-step Korean skin care routine, but never considered it. I am a mom of three—the only thing in my life that I spend 10 steps on is getting my kids to bed at night. That, and I am really more of a wash-and-go kinda lady. I don't wear much makeup, never blow dry my hair and almost never have my nails done.

But a lesson I have learned in my life: When a stylish friend mentions that they are loving a new product or trend, pay attention.

So when my friend with the most gorgeous skin casually commented that he was using the 10-step Korean skin care, I not-so-casually decided to dive in and try it.

What I found was that I loved it 😍.

1. My skin has not looked this good in a long time.

I have sensitive combination skin that tends to look a bit dull, and I almost always have bags under my eyes from lack of sleep. After using this regiment for a few weeks, my face looks a lot brighter—dare I say even glowy at times—and, it's a lot easier to fake the "I got 8 hours of sleep last night" look.

2. It's not as time-consuming as I thought.

It turns out that you don't have to do all of the steps every day. For example, I only exfoliate a few times a week, and use a mask once a week. Most of the steps are quite fast!

3. It has become my self-care ritual.

This might be my favorite part. Right when I wake up, before the hectic time of the day, this routine forces me to take 3 to 5 minutes to myself—alone—taking care of me. I try to incorporate some deep breaths and mindfulness into the process, and it always elevates my mood. At bedtime, it is my wind-down. A chance to be nice to myself after spending a day (trying to be) nice to everyone else.

So, how in the world do you do the 10-step Korean skin care routine? Here's our step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Oil cleanser (Clean it zero)

Clean it zero

Different types of cleansers remove different things from your face. Starting with an oil cleanser helps to remove makeup, built-up oil and dead skin cells. I love this cleansing balm for this—it takes any makeup off completely, and doesn't burn my eyes at all, which happens with a lot of other products I've tried.

$17.70

 Step 2: Foam cleanser (Kiehl's ultra facial cleanser)

Kiehl's ultra facial cleanser

After an oil cleanser, water-based cleansers remove any remaining dirt and oil, helping your skin to be truly clean. Foam cleansers are great for fighting occasional breakouts, without drying out my skin. I love that it's formulated with squalane (that's filled with powerful anti-aging properties), apricot kernel oil, vitamin e and avocado oils that keep my face moisturized.

$21

Step 3: Exfoliate (Skinfood black sugar mask)

Skinfood black sugar mask

Exfoliating removes dead skin cells, leaving your skin looking brighter. It can also help with breakouts and it allows products to get deeper into your skin because those dead cells aren't in the way. The Skinfood Black Sugar Mask is grainy and awesome for eliminate blackheads and clogged pores.

$9.99

Step 4: Toner (Whamisa organic flower deep rich essence toner)

I had previously overlooked the power of adding a toner to my routine, but I am so glad I use it now. Toners balance the skin's pH, shrink pores, moisturize and help the products to absorb easier.

I chose Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner based on the reviews, and it has not disappointed. It has a light fermented smell to it because it is made from fermented flowers, but my skin looks all dewy after I use it, and I have definitely noticed a difference in my pores.

$39.99

Step 5: Essence (Saturday Skin freeze frame beauty essence)

Saturday Skin freeze frame beauty essence

Soko Glam, a company dedicated to getting Korean skin care into the homes of women everywhere says that essence is the most essential step to skin care because it targets skin at the cellular level.

There are a ton of essences out there, so you'll have to spend some time looking for the one that meets your specific needs. Saturday Skin Freeze Frame Beauty Essence is super popular (and how cute is that bottle?).

$33

Step 6: Treatment (Bliss bright idea vitamin c + tri-peptide brightening serum)

Bliss bright idea vitamin c + tri-peptide brightening serum

Serums are also called treatments because they are meant to target a specific problem area. This vitamin C and tri-peptides duo works to boost skin's natural elasticity and defend from future free radical damage. YES to all of that. 🙌

$21.99

Step 7: Sheet mask (Missha super aqua snail hydro-gel mask)

Missha super aqua snail hydro-gel mask

This is the most time-consuming part of the routine (you'll leave this on for around 15 minutes, depending on the brand), but you only have to do it one or two times per week.

I usually do this on a Sunday night, after the kids are in bed as a way to really unwind. Since I am new to this, I started with these because it was so inexpensive. And I have to say, I am loving Missha's super aqua snail hydro-gel mask. It has snail extract, but it's not as gross as it sounds. It works hard to fight redness, dark and dull skin.It also wards off dryness which is great when the weather is super drying.

Pro-tip: DO NOT go into your kid's room, in the dark, with this mask on your face, unless you are ready to share your bed with a terrified toddler for the night.

$4.20

Step 8: Eye cream (Edible beauty gold rush eye balm)

Edible beauty gold rush eye balm

Next, you'll care for the delicate skin around your eyes. When you apply eye cream, always pat it on gently with your ring finger—never rub—in an effort to be as gentle as possible. This eye cream is a favorite because it hydrates and fights fine lines that are trying very hard to creep onto my face.

$65

Step 9: Moisturizer (Algenist regenerative anti-aging moisturizer)

Algenist Regenerative Anti-Aging Moisturizer

The next step is applying a moisturizer to lock in the products and keep skin hydrated all day. Algenist regenerative anti-aging moisturizer is substantial enough to really hydrate my skin, but doesn't leave it greasy. I also love that the alguronic acid, combined with vitamin C helps smooth my overall skin texture.

$94.00

Step 10: Sunscreen (Bare Republic mineral SPF 70 face sunscreen lotion)

Mineral SPF 70 face sunscreen lotion

Last, but absolutely positively not least, is sunscreen. Applying sunscreen to your face every day is the number one way to prevent signs of aging (and of course, keep your skin healthy). In an effort to reduce steps, I started using this product and the sheer finish is enriched with antioxidant-rich hydrators that doesn't look chalky. I have been raving about it ever since.

$14.99

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

Shop

The world feels so heavy right now.

Moments throughout the day I feel like there's an elephant sitting on my chest. Pushing down, into my heart, breaking it piece by piece.

Like there's a water fountain behind my eyes. Forcing water out of my face in the form of tears rolling down my cheeks.

Like there's a ticker in my mind wondering when the next freak out will come. Counting down the seconds to panic...

What will be next?

This weekend, I was scrolling through social media when I saw my sister tagged me in a Tiger King meme that made me laugh so hard I nearly peed myself.

FEATURED VIDEO

And then I laughed some more. Thinking of how ridiculous that show is and how ridiculous life feels right now. Like how my 2-year-old keeps running around without her diaper on and how Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Airheads have basically become a food group for me at this point.

Because there are no rules anymore. There's very little structure. Routine? Yeahhh, that's pretty much gone, too.

And I need to laugh about that.

Because if I don't laugh, I might break.

And I can't break.

So I'm laughing. (Right now, anyway.)

This time of the coronavirus will remind me of a lot of sadness—sadness I don't even want to get into right now. But it will also remind me of happy things and silly things. Ridiculous things and outrageous things.

Like, it will remind me not only of Tiger King and eating more candy than I did that really successful Halloween in sixth grade, but also of making homemade pasta together as a family while my husband and I snuck pieces of the dough and our children got themselves covered in so much flour they looked like the guy from the movie Powder.

It'll remind me of TikTok and learning the "I'm a Savage" dance in the bathroom at 2 am because I couldn't sleep (true story, because… well, I am in fact a savage).

It'll remind me of diving so hardcore into the Upper East Side world of Gossip Girl because after finishing Tiger King, I needed to be transported to another world that is not the strange new one I am currently living in 24/7.

It'll remind me of, quite possibly my most outrageous online shopping purchase to date—an inflatable hot tub. (Here's to $100—and free shipping!—attempting to buy me a sliver of happiness.)

It'll remind me of rolling my eyes at my husband while I listen to my kindergartener tell her teacher and classmates how she's been "playing with makeup and sleeping a lot" during her Zoom call.

It'll remind me of the stress I felt, then giggled at while scheduling more virtual meetings and appointments for my 4-year-old than I ever have as a work-from-home mom. "Sorry, they can't take your FaceTime at 11 am because of her livestream zoo visit. How's noon for you?"

It'll remind me of commiserating with my cousin all the way in Ireland—about all of the same things because we're basically in the same exact situation as each other no matter the time or professional or lifestyle differences.

It'll remind me of chatting with one of my siblings in the Houseparty app then all of our other siblings descending into the call one by one to just shoot the breeze for the five hundredth time in one day. To talk about nothing, and do nothing—together.

It'll remind me of trying to watch Palm Sunday mass online with our kids while the picture is sideways on the TV because we can't get the iPhone mirroring app to work correctly, two children are half-naked, one child is loudly chomping on Pirates Booty and I'm sipping coffee on the couch in my pajamas.

It'll remind me of my husband's panicked face when my 2-year-old bursts into our "office" (bedroom) chanting "Frozen 2! Frozen 2!" during a team call that he was not muted on.

It'll remind me of tagging each other in and out of our work days like a blurry relay race, shuffling laptops and keyboards every which way, inside and outside, in this room then that room, saying, "You good?" before we make coffee to chug and take our turn to get quiet, child-free work done.

It'll remind me of our kindergartener losing her second tooth and rummaging through the house for cash—because we never have any on hand—and celebrating when we finally found a dollar to leave(!), which we then forgot to leave(!), and ultimately had to do some backtracking and CIA level recon to salvage the situation.

It'll remind me of tortilla chips and queso being considered an acceptable lunch for myself. Of my new hobby that is baking bread and then eating the whole loaf. Of friends driving by with signs, saying hi from the road. Of YouTube art videos for kids being considered "art class." Of the constant wonder how we can still be generating laundry when we all seem to be wearing the same exact clothes every day like we're Doug Funny.

Of weirdness. Of sadness. Of togetherness. Of happiness. Of wild worry and love and insanity, all rolled into one.

Of a strange time in history that we'll tell our grandchildren about.

The tough time in our lives where—a convict who really loved tigers, a boatload of candy (and, okay, other groceries, too) delivered by the great and essential postal and delivery workers, choreographed dance videos on an app called TikTok, funny memes of the cluster that is working from home/caring for children/homeschooling/cooking/cleaning, and healthcare worker superheroes—got us through.

Because we will get through this. And a little laughter will help. 💓

Life

A few short weeks ago, I started singing "You Are My Sunshine" to my baby each night before bed. I want my baby to recognize my voice when they arrive in June.

A few short weeks ago, my biggest concerns were around finding and researching the "perfect" baby products, making it to a prenatal yoga class and lathering on belly butter to prevent stretch marks.

A few short weeks ago, I was lucky to be surrounded by my family members eagerly telling them to place their hands on my belly so they could feel the baby move. I wanted to share my joy with them, the first grandchild on either side of our family, and I worried not everyone would get a chance to feel the baby's movements.

FEATURED VIDEO

Today, I am worried—like most mothers—about how we will get groceries safely next week without being exposed to COVID-19. I have never felt fearful of physically being in our local grocery stores, until now, and it feels strange. The dramatic changes brought on because of the pandemic have left me feeling like the world is spinning.

Suddenly everything I was looking forward to has been stripped away—canceled birth classes, hospital tours, baby showers, maternity photos, haircuts (okay, I know this isn't that important but I desperately wanted to get a haircut before my baby comes!) and a gift card for a prenatal massage that will sadly go unused.

I can't even easily purchase diapers or wipes for my baby—something that I assumed would always be accessible. I feel unprepared.

And I've been having a repetitive nightmare of being separated from my baby after giving birth because I have contracted COVID-19. Even worse—I fear the hospital will be so full there is no room for me and my baby in case we need medical intervention.

Yes, I know this may not actually happen, but as a first-time mom paired with the uncertainty of the world right now, I am feeling frightened. I'm searching for a sense of normalcy wherever I can find it. Today I was Googling "absolute necessities for a newborn" to see if there was anything I could purchase to simply make me feel better.

All of the prenatal podcasts I've listened to and pregnancy books I've read have one piece of advice in common—find community and support. The message is clear and repetitive: "Connect with other mamas in your birth class", "Ask for help", "Make a chore list for people to help when they come to visit", "Find support", "Remember, you are not alone!"

But now, I, like many other pregnant-during-a-global-pandemic mothers, am feeling alone.

Who knows when it will be safe for my family to see me again? I may not be pregnant anymore, and they may not meet their grandchild until they are a few months old.

I know that our situation could be much, much worse. I often feel angry at myself for even grieving the pregnancy I've dreamed of and lost when others are suffering so deeply. I am acutely aware of the pain happening in the world and feel it to the deepest core of my being. As an empath, the emotions of others affect me tremendously. So much so in fact that at my last prenatal visit my blood pressure was the highest it has ever been.

It's exceedingly difficult to feel excited about the new life I'm bringing into the world when the world currently seems so turbulent and full of pain.

But when it comes down to it, no matter what else is going on, I can't deny that I'm sad. I am so, so sad. Sad for all of the first-time moms whose realities have changed similarly to mine. Sad for the partners who cannot be at their prenatal visits or births. Sad for the healthcare workers and nurses working the front lines. Sad for everyone experiencing loss.

I've even found myself thinking Did we choose the wrong time to have this baby? Why is this happening now?

But what I've come to realize is that actually, now is a perfect time. This baby is teaching me every day to grow stronger than I ever knew was possible. They're teaching me to sit in stillness. To sit with my feelings—no matter how big or small, how heavy or complicated. To slow down and breathe. To never take these special moments for granted.

I still sing "You Are My Sunshine" each night, but with greater emotion and purpose than I've ever felt before. This baby has become my literal beacon of light. My sunshine on these cloudy days.

And even though everything has changed, I have faith that the sun will come out... eventually.

Life

If you feel cash-strapped right now, you're not alone. Many of us are under financial stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic—but there are several things you can do to maintain your cash flow.

Here's how you can access expanded financial resources and practice tried-and-true budgeting methods to help you and your family weather the storm.

1. Review your budget + cut what you don't need.

With the stress of a global pandemic and social distancing—not to mention the financial worries that come with both—budgeting can feel overwhelming. But making a plan now can actually help you feel a sense of control. This crisis will not last forever, but the money choices you make now may have a long-term impact on your financial health.

Start by determining the minimum monthly amount you need to cover your bills and lifestyle spending during the next few months. Make a list of every monthly expense you pay, including fixed bills like your rent and phone bill, and variable expenses like groceries and household items.

FEATURED VIDEO

Cut or pause payments on any non-essentials—for example, many gyms are offering the option to pause memberships, since social distancing practices prevent people from going. Other service providers like your cell phone company, credit card company, car insurance agent and internet provider may have options that will reduce your bills, or smaller packages that match your needs at a lower cost.

2. Make a plan.

Once you know your minimum monthly spend, you can make a plan. Compare what you need against any regular monthly income, as well as other income you can receive from things like unemployment, the stimulus credit, and your 2019 tax refund. If you haven't yet, file your taxes early so that you'll get your refund quicker.

If you have an emergency fund, now may be the time you dip into it if you need. Be mindful about how much you take out of this fund and start by taking as little from your emergency fund as possible. This amount will vary person to person, and family to family, but the idea is to allow yourself to use the cash to help cover immediate costs and alleviate stress and anxiety about paying your bills.

3. Access expanded government programs designed to help meet basic needs.

Government measures have been put in place to help families struggling to make important monthly payments. For example, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently enacted a 60-day foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single-family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages. If this moratorium doesn't apply to you, or if you're a renter, try contacting your mortgage lender or landlord (in writing) to let them know you're going to have trouble paying. You may be able to work out an arrangement directly with them.

Dealing with an unresponsive or difficult landlord? Many states and cities have temporarily stopped evictions—check online to see if your state or city has, and make sure your landlord is aware of these laws. This can give you some additional breathing room on your rent payment.

ChildCare.gov is a great resource for families who are struggling during this time. The website has information on how to access helpful programs, like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help families with their energy bills, WIC and SNAP which provide food assistance, and child nutrition programs, including any local schools that are providing lunches despite school closures.

For parents who need help with buying basic supplies, such as diapers, the National Diaper Bank Network can help you access free diapers via a local diaper bank.

4. Talk to credit card companies and other lenders to help you create a plan for your debt.

The FDIC is encouraging banks and lenders to work with any customers impacted by the pandemic. Visit the American Bank Association's website for an online list of banks that are helping those in need with mortgage loans, car loans, credit card payments.

If you're worried about paying your federal student loans, you can now pause payments for up to six months—the federal government has also temporarily paused interest charges. But make sure you don't just stop paying. Set your future self up for success and contact your lender to request an administrative forbearance.

Making a proactive call to your lender is also a good practice for any other loans or credit card accounts—don't just ignore the situation and let an account go into default. Many credit card companies are offering to waive late payment fees or increase credit limits for those in need, but make sure to confirm with your bank or creditor before missing a payment or going over your limit.

This crisis is forcing many of us to make difficult choices and deal with new financial and personal challenges—remember you're not in this alone, and there are many resources available to help you.

Work + Money
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.