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Mama, your burnout is not your fault

Mothers do not need to do a better job taking care of themselves. We need to do a better job taking care of mothers.

mom burn out

Moms have always worked hard under difficult circumstances. But the last several months of existing through a pandemic have escalated what was once a bad problem to an absolute crisis: Mothers are reaching unprecedented levels of burnout.

But burnout is not a new issue.

Last year, I wrote an article called "'Self-care' is not enough to fix how much moms are burnt out."

And as happens when you write something that goes out on the internet, the feedback started to come in. For many, it struck a chord. Moms were feeling utterly burnt out, and their attempts to fix the burnout with bubble baths or nights out with friends weren't working. They knew deep down that their stress, exhaustion and depletion were symptoms of much larger systemic shortcomings.

In addition to the moms who shared that it resonated, I got a fair amount of "constructive criticism." It sounded like this:


"If a mom is burned out, she needs to do a better job taking care of herself."

"She needs to ask for more help."

"She needs to stop taking on so much."

"She needs to use her resources better."

In other words, "She has done this to herself."

As I always do with feedback, I sat with it; I wanted to let it settle and learn from it. But I waited a long time and it never settled. Instead, it sat heavily on my shoulders, weighing me down more and more.

Because that sentiment—the idea that a mother's burnout is her own fault—is exactly why moms are burnt out.

Here's the thing: Mothers do not need to do a better job taking care of themselves. We need to do a better job taking care of mothers.

Do many of us need to work on prioritizing our own needs? Yes, without a doubt.

Could many of us get better at saying "no" to all the little asks—the PTA, the themed birthday parties, the volunteer opportunities? One-hundred percent.

Would doing any of those things solve mom burnout? Not even close.

To put the onus of fixing mom burnout on the mothers who are burnt out is to ignore the foundational issues that have gotten us to this point.

So on behalf of mothers everywhere, I refuse to accept that feedback. I refuse to let society off the hook that easily.

Mama, if you too have been told that your exhaustion, your defeat, your burnout is your fault, here's what you need to know: The notion that your burn out is your own doing is unfair and not based on the reality of modern motherhood. In short, your burnout is not your fault.

It is not your fault that childcare is unaffordable.

It is not your fault that you don't live near family who can come over to help.

It is not your fault that your health insurance is tied to your job, making it so you can't leave, even though you can feel the stress starting to impact your health (the very health that the insurance is there to protect).

It is not your fault that strangers assume you have the same privileges that they do. It is not your fault that we're losing our ability to empathize with people who live different lives than we do.

It is not your fault that you had to go back to work after giving birth before you healed. That your pelvis ached and your incision itched and your breasts swelled as you tried to smile your way through that shift or that meeting. (It's also not your fault that you were criticized when you didn't smile.)

It is not your fault that you feel pressured to tell people everything is great when it's not.

It is not your fault that you were pressured to have postpartum sex before you felt ready to do so.

It is not your fault that it was impossible to exclusively breastfeed your baby for six months like they recommended, while also working a full-time job that you needed in order to maintain your income which your family depends on (or simply because you love your job and wanted to keep working).

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Because you are doing an amazing job, mama.

It is not your fault that you make less money than your co-workers because you are a woman or BIPOC.

It is not your fault that you feel like your mom-body isn't good enough (psst: it is).

It is not your fault that you now need to navigate all of this during a pandemic, in a society that was never set up to actually support you.

It is not your fault that the society you live in has not shown you how important you are.

None of it is your fault. But mama, it's still up to us to fix it. Because after all, when you need something handled, you ask a mother.

And so. We get to work.

We continue to fight for ourselves, remembering that every time we stand up for ourselves, we are standing up for mothers everywhere.

We continue to call out injustices wherever we see them.

We continue to do the uncomfortable work of examining our own biases and privileges and we learn and we vow to do better every single day.

We continue to own our value—by speaking loudly even when we don't feel brave, by taking up space and by refusing to let the "it's your own faults" settle into our self-perception.

We continue to demand better.

And we continue to love our children, our communities and ourselves fiercely.

Because despite what they have shown you, you are so important.

Not just to your child, although, please remember that to your child, you are everything—their safety, their heart, their courage, their home.

You are important to other mothers—in the way that you stay in this fight alongside them.

You are important to our society—in the way that you make your family and community better. In the ways that feel small but matter more than you could ever know.

You are important to the world—in the way that you make it continue to spin. In the ways that you are raising children who will continue your work and make it all better.

Mama, it's not our fault and we haven't done this to ourselves. We're still going to fix it.

True

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

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

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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