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Yes our house is messy, but our life is full of love

This is where we learn, where we grow, where we play, and where we explore.

Yes our house is messy, but our life is full of love

My house is a mess right now, which—truth be told—has sort of become the norm these days.


Sometimes I feel like it’ll always be messy—like for the rest of my life.

And no magic amount of singing the clean up song will straighten things up. I’ll sleep among piles of unfolded laundry and relax on a couch taken over by action figures in a home with bright, crayon-colored walls and polka dot (by way of stains) rugs.

I won’t remember any previous life of order or cleanliness. I’ll just know of my new life of piles and spills and old pretzels found in various hiding spots in the playroom.

But then I snap out of my craziness, and remind myself that it won’t be like this forever.

One day, many years from now our homes will be tidy again.

When my babies leave for college, I’ll be able to sit on the couch with a glass of wine, and admire the perfectly vacuumed floor and spotless kitchen.

And there won’t be dinosaurs on top of a tower my daughter built on that clean living room floor. There won’t be any more chocolate milk spills in the kitchen, and tiny clothes that need washing. And one day, believe it or not, our little ones will have apartments and houses of their own to make messes in. Then, after thousands of loads of laundry and meals made and love shared, my husband and I will just have to clean up after ourselves.

And we’ll cry because we’ll miss those little dinosaurs.

I suppose I could put forth more effort now to have an orderly home, and not necessarily wait until my children leave for college or have a house of their own. But life is so busy with two little ones.

Sure, I could cut back on work during nap time so that I could organize...but I don’t want to. I love my job, and want to get my work done.

Yes, I could definitely skip out on a Saturday morning activity to straighten up the house...but it would break my heart. I want to spend that precious time with my family.

I could hire someone to clean for us, but that costs money. I don’t want to prioritize spending money on a housekeeper; I want to save for necessities or a fun trip.

I can, and do, take about twenty minutes each night after the kids have gone to bed to tidy up. It’ll look nice until morning and then the dolls and toys and craft supplies quickly take over again.

These 20 minutes satisfies the neat freak part of myself enough, and helps the perfectionist in me realize that there are more important things going on in life.

Twenty minutes is really all I can give on a consistent basis. My babies are only going to be small for a short while. I don’t want to spend these important years obsessing over putting toys back exactly where I crazily-specifically-organized them to go. (Like I used to.)

Our house may not make it into the pages of Martha Stewart Living any time soon, but that’s okay—it’s a lived-in home, a playful home, an honest home.

So for now, I’ll revel in the cleanliness of our home when visitors are scheduled to come (because that’s really the only time I step up my game), or after my twenty minute clean up before morning comes and the tiny tornadoes roll through.

For now, I’ll try not to cringe when I look around our home. Instead, I’ll make peace with the state it’s in.

This is where we learn, where we grow, where we play, and where we explore. We’re all busy and have important things to do here. Looking spotless is just not one of them. Not right now. Not when there are forts to build, tea parties to host and paintings to create.

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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.

$200

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.

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

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

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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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