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I never expected motherhood to be this messy

If you had asked me what I expected motherhood to be like, I would probably have said, "So, so different from how it turned out!" Looking at my life pre- and post-baby is often like comparing two entirely different lives. I'm in both, but wholly changed.

If I stopped to imagine motherhood prior to having babies, I might have pictured something like what I often see on my Pinterest boards or in my Instagram feeds: beautiful, well-behaved babies; an organized home stocked with educational toys; and me in the middle, juggling all the balls and never letting so much as one drop.

Oh, sweet, naive pre-baby me!

Because if there's one thing I've learned from motherhood, it's that it's so much more than a perfect, filtered capture.


Showing my children the world with Britax.

Motherhood is raw.

I could probably have never predicted the way becoming a mama would turn me inside out at times. The frustrating days leave me close to tears, and sometimes I think I won't be able to make it to bedtime. The exhaustion can make time nearly stand still, whether I've been up all night with a fussy baby or simply spent the day chasing down a toddler with seemingly endless energy.

Every night, I collapse into bed only to wake just as tired as I felt when I laid down. But for all the emotionally taxing moments, I'm rewarded with love beyond compare. Before my first daughter was born, I never knew I could love in this capacity. Yes, feeling something so purely and deeply comes with some baggage, but I wouldn't trade a single ounce of it.

Even the tiredness can be its own reward because it speaks to this incredibly important work I'm accomplishing (dare I say crushing?) every day—being the best mama I can possibly be.

Motherhood is messy.

Beyond the emotional mess that sometimes leaves me feeling ragged at the end of a particularly trying day, being a mama means wrangling the literal messes nearly 24 hours a day. From wiping crumbs from countertops to wiping chubby baby cheeks, I'm probably single-handedly keeping the baby wipe industry in business.

I've learned to pare down our toys to speed clean-up time, but I often still find myself staring at the same to-do list at the end of every day. But even in those cluttered, chaotic moments, I've learned to appreciate the inherent beauty. Our living room may sometimes look like the toy box exploded, but it's also filled with giggles and ear-to-ear grins as my daughter and I play for hours. The kitchen may be covered with tiny fingerprints and streaks of maple syrup, but it's also where we start our morning with freshly made pancakes as we plan the day's adventures.

Our stroller may take its fair share of splashes and splotches from sippy cups and snack packs throughout the day, but it's also the vehicle that helps me show my child the world (plus, gotta love that water-resistant fabric that helps me rise above the messy moments!). Motherhood is messy, but that's how you know it's full of life.


I never expected motherhood to be this messy—but it's beautiful too. Britax

Motherhood isn't perfect.

Being a millennial mama comes with an added layer of difficulty—the struggle not to compare my reality with other people's highlight reel. On days when I've been pushed to my limit (and probably not even had time to shower), the it's sometimes hard to see an Instagram post of a mom who has it all together (and who even had time to blow out her hair!).

I applaud these women for their ability to do.it.all (and I hope to be them on a better day!), a part of me always wonders if I'm getting the full story. Is there a pile of laundry just out of the frame of that stunning selfie? Did her toddler actually eat that perfectly balanced organic meal...or just the strawberries like my little one often does?

I find myself drawn to other mamas who keep it real—who see the beauty not only in the picture-perfect moments, but also in the ones that capture the memories we really want to remember. Like the baby cuddles that happen when your little one falls asleep on your chest instead of in their crib. Or the bath time splashes that end with warm, damp hugs—and huge puddles on the floor. To me, that feels better than any "perfect" picture ever could.

The mess may not be what I expected. Even so, the life we've made for ourselves is so much more wonderful than I ever could have imagined.

One day, my floor will no longer be littered with toys. I won't find cereal in the car seat crevices, and I won't even think to grab a package of wipes before I head out for a day of errands. One day, my little ones will be grown and the messes will gradually fade away.

And I'm so worried I'll miss it all. So, for now, I embrace it. I embrace the love and the mess that comes with it. I embrace the clutter and the cuddles. The spills and the snuggles. I'll take it all because that is where the beauty really lies.

These new arrivals from the Motherly Shop are *so* good you need them all

Noodle and Boo, Mushie and Plan Toys—everything you need, mama.

Motherhood is hard work—finding great products and brands to make the journey easier doesn't have to be. Each week, we stock the Motherly Shop with brilliant new products we know you'll need and love from brands and makers that really care.

So, what's new this week?

Noodle and Boo: Holistic baby skin care

Through working with chemists who specialize in natural and holistic skin care, Noodle and Boo has developed exclusive formulas that nourish, replenish and protect especially delicate, eczema-prone and sensitive skin—including laundry detergent. Their signature, obsession-worthy scent—which is subtly sweet, pure and fresh—is the closest thing to bottling up "baby smell" we've ever found.

Mushie: Kids' dinnerware that actually looks great

We're totally crushing on Mushie's minimalist dinnerware for kids. Their innovative baby and toddler products leverage Swedish design to marry both form and function while putting safety front and center. Everything is created in soft, muted colors from BPA-free materials.

Plan Toys: Open-ended toys that last

Corralling and cleaning up the toys becomes less stressful when you bring home fewer, better, more beautiful ones. Plan Toys checks all the boxes. Made from re-purposed rubber wood, they're better for the planet as well.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Mushie silicone baby bib

Mushie silicone baby bib

There's no going back to cloth bibs after falling in love with this Swedish design. The pocket catches whatever misses their mouths and the BPA-free silicone is waterproof and easy to wipe down between uses.

$13

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

We're totally crushing on the soft muted colors that flow with our table aesthetics and the thoughtful high-sided design that helps babies and toddler who are learning to feed themselves.

$15

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Stocked with everything a new mama needs to care for her little one's delicate skin, Noodle and Boo's nursery essentials gift set is the perfect way to create a holistic and natural skin care routine from day one.

$45

Plan Toys doctor set 

Plan Toys doctor set

Ideal for quiet time and imaginative role play, we love the gorgeous planet-friendly doctor kit from Plan Toys. The rubber wood stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, syringe and reflex hammer pack up neat and tidy into the red cotton case should they need to dash off on a rescue mission.

$30

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Since we're buying and using hand sanitizer by the truckload these days, we're thrilled Noodle and Boo has made one we can feel good about using on little ones who cram their hands in their mouths 24/7. Not only does it kill 99.9% of germs, but it also leaves hands moisturized as well.

$10

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

A toy box isn't complete without a set of blocks—and this set is one of our new favorites. The sustainable, re-purposed wood is eco-friendly, comes at a relatively affordable price point and are certain to last well beyond multiple kids, hand-me-downs and even generations.

$30

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Because their products were developed for delicate and eczema-prone skin, Noodle and Boo's full line of skin care has become a favorite among those with sensitive skin of all ages. This set is the perfect way to pamper the entire family.

$48

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

No need to sacrifice safety or design with the sustainable dinnerware from Mushie. Their minimalist, functional dishes are perfect for serving up meals and snacks to your tablemates who might hurl it to the floor at any point. They're made in Denmark from BPA-free polypropylene plastic mamas can feel good about and dishwasher and microwave-safe as well.

$14

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

The best engaging, open-ended toys are the ones that are left out and available, inviting little (and big!) ones to play. These beautiful gem-like blocks make for addicting coffee table play for the entire family.

$30

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Energy-efficient design isn't just for grown-up real estate. This green dollhouse includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel, electric inverter, recycling bins, a rain barrel, a biofacade and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation along with minimalist furniture we'd totally love to have in our own houses.

$250

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

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Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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

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20 baby names to set your child up for success

What do Jacqueline, Morgan, Madison and Parker all have in common?

They say picking a baby name is an art, not a science. But when it comes to figuring out which baby names have been linked to successful futures, there has actually been some scientific work on the subject.

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