Why protecting your mental health is so important right now

It's okay to create boundaries for the sake of your mental health, mama.


This is an impossibly difficult time. It's been weeks and I still can't wrap my mind around it. My heart hurts. My body is confused. My hair… oh, my hair.

And my mind is tired. So, so tired.

I'm sure yours is, too.

There is this omnipresent worry, an overpowering desire to do and help, and a general state of confusion and overwhelm—and it's wreaking havoc on our mental health.

Mama, I want you to know that protecting your mental health is incredibly important right now, and it is okay to make that a priority.

It's okay if you need to lower the bar—in fact, you probably should.

At its core, lowering the bar means being gentle with yourself—giving yourself grace when you simply cannot.

Cannot cook a meal.

Cannot get through your child's schoolwork.

Cannot make that Zoom meeting.

This is completely uncharted territory. That means you get to set the rules (and then break them as you see fit). Adding pressure to be "perfect" into an already incredibly stressful time could break you, mama.

So pick a few things that feel really important, and simply let the rest go. This will pass, and there will be time to pick up the pieces in the future.

It's okay if every day is different.

If I've noticed one consistency among myself, my friends and family it's this: There is no consistency in a pandemic.

From day to day, even hour to hour, our emotional states seem to vacillate tremendously. Last night, I ate Girl Scout cookies in the bath (true story), did a face mask, meditated and generally felt pretty calm and together. This morning, I was a bit of a wreck.

My instinct is to try to change this. But Gloria Shepard, a mindfulness teacher I adore, always reminds me to try not to judge the feelings that come up within us. Just let them be, and send them love.

It's okay to look for joy.

Confession: My emotions have ebbed a lot over the last few weeks, and the times I have felt happy, I have also felt guilty. It is a real privilege to be able to sit on my couch and smile.

But I think that joy is okay—as long as there is also empathy and a desire and effort to help.

It's okay to watch videos that make me laugh.

It's okay to read heartwarming stories about people helping each other.

It's definitely okay to feel gratitude.

It's okay to establish radical boundaries.

This one is hard—very hard, especially amid isolation, when we so desperately crave a sense of connection. Under the guide of finding togetherness, our very real need for connection can lure us into some unhealthy places, though.

It is paramount to our mental wellbeing that we establish firm boundaries—and then stick to them. It's okay if you don't know what those boundaries should be yet. This is a new process for many of us. But over time, pay attention to how your body and your mind feel as you go about your day. After everything you do, ask yourself: Did that make me feel better, neutral, or worse?

Then, draw your boundaries from there.

Maybe that looks like limiting your time on social media to 20-minute sessions in the morning and afternoon.

Maybe it's not picking up the phone every time your well-intentioned but anxiety-inducing relative calls—call them once every few days instead.

Maybe it's not engaging in certain types of conversations.

Whatever it is, you are the boss of your boundaries, and they are non-negotiable.

Here's the thing. We are taught (especially as women) that boundaries are selfish; that the way to true joy is to please others. The truth, though, is that boundaries are incredibly un-selfish. In setting up clear boundaries that protect yourself, you are reserving your energy and superpower for the people and moments that need them the most (you being at the center of that).

If you need a little boost to your boundary setting, try this:

Plant your feet on the ground and take three deep breaths. Imagine a forcefield growing around you—maybe it's made of light. Maybe you imagine vines growing around you. Whatever the image is, envision a boundary that separates your internal energy from the energy around you.

Then, decide what gets to come in, and what hits the forcefield and falls to the ground.

It's okay to get help.

I have long subscribed to the belief that everyone should see a mental health provider from time to time, even if they don't have a mental health diagnosis. We see the dentist every six months. We get annual check-ups and pelvic exams. Why have we left our brains out of the mix?

A pandemic seems like a pretty good time to try this out.

If you already know a therapist, call them and see if they are offering virtual meetings. If not, there are many services that offer virtual mental health appointments. A few to try are Talk Space and Better Help.

Check-in with your insurance company, but many are covering telehealth services right now.

And remember that if you feel like hurting yourself or someone else, you can call 9-1-1 or go to the ER.

Remember, mama—it is not selfish to think of yourself right now. It's imperative.

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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


9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


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


It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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