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I am not too proud to admit that there has been a time or two when I've given my child my phone to watch something while I caught a few more z's after an early wake-up call. And I'm not too proud to admit that chicken nuggets, shredded cheese and carrots sticks is one of my go-to dinners. I'm not too proud to admit that I have outright cheered when my child has been old enough to help me do something or get something for me, easing the load of motherhood just a little bit. (Honey, could you throw this diaper out for Mommy, please?)

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If you want to call this "lazy parenting" I won't be offended. I have come to embrace this laid-back parenting style. It fits me like my "lazy mom" uniform (aka capsule wardrobe) of yoga pants and t-shirts does—naturally and comfortably. It speaks to my soul. It just gets me.

How?

1. I don't worry until there's something to worry about.

(Aka, I take it easy on my nerves when I can.)

There are plenty of instances with raising children where the "something to worry about" comes up. So when those times arise—when my preschooler has a 104-degree fever, my toddler keeps repeating a fresh word, my teething baby seems so uncomfortable—I typically worry. But there's also a LOT of things that I *could* worry about (like whether I should be buying everything organic or what other people think of my mom abilities) that I try really hard not to get caught up in.

For example, you won't catch me following my older kids around the playground reminding them to be careful. I keep my eye on them of course, but I also let them do their thing. I will run as fast as humanly possible when they actually need me, but otherwise, I'll be pushing my 7-month-old on the swings.

2. I teach my children to do things for themselves.

(Aka helping them become independent humans.)

Now, when you call this 'Montessori', it sounds more pleasant, I think. And that's what I am doing. I am teaching my child to be self-sufficient. And right now since they are four and two (I let the 7-month-old off the hook with this stuff for the time being) that looks like moving their cups and plates to a cabinet they can reach.

Or ordering a Brita filter with a spout so they can get water when they are thirsty. Or teaching them to put their dishes in the dishwasher when they're done, watering the garden, picking out their own (weather-appropriate) outfits, putting their own toothpaste on their brush and brushing their teeth, or letting them take a shower and wash themselves (I still need to be in there, but I can be answering emails, etc. if I need to).

My 4-year-old can now buckle both car seat buckles by herself. I do a check once she's done, but she is really good at it and I've only had to fix it once. I know this sounds so small in the grand scheme of things, but I feel like it was a game changer. I guess when you have three kids you'll take the wins in efficiency where you can…

3. I encourage my kids to play with each other.

(Aka I'm helping them build strong social skills.)

My husband and I joke around with each other about the fact that we created baby #2 and baby #3 so that they'd all have people to play with. So they can entertain each other when we need to get something done.

Siblings are nice to have around for companionship and entertainment, for sure, but I do get that some people only want one child or maybe a family is experiencing infertility or a long adoption waitlist—so many a sibling to play with isn't the answer. But, fear not! Friends, cousins, neighbors, classmates—scheduling a play date even for an hour or two can give you a much-needed break.

It's not like you could go run errands or say, "See ya! I'm going to take a nap!"—you still have to be around to supervise and whatnot, but you can probably cook dinner or get another task done that's on your list without having to entertain at the same time.

And believe me—the whole "playing with each other nicely" does not always work. There's fighting, arguing and yelling. But then there's the laughing, the singing, the dancing, the pretending together. And so even if you get 15 minutes, let's consider that #winning, shall we?

4. I buy things that make all of our lives easier.

(Aka I spend our money wisely and efficiently.)

Why get shoes with laces that you have to tie when they're little when God (or someone else) created velcro? (Save those laces for when they're a bit older…) We've been gifted a step stool for each child that we keep in the bathroom so I don't have to pick them up every time they need to wash their hands. We also encourage them to pick it up and move it about the house as they need to reach things.

We've bought kid-safe chopping knives so I can have little sous chefs help me during dinner prep and a small broom so they can help us sweep after dinner.

So, sure, maybe this is "lazy parenting" at its finest… but if you're going to call me 'lazy,' please also call me 'creative' and 'efficient', too. 😉

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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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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"


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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)

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Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Life

Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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Life
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