A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
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In the West, a grand experiment has been unfolding over the last one hundred years. For thousands of years, humans had been deeply embedded within a broader net of community life — fitted within the spheres of family, social class, faith and work. But then we shed community and embraced the nuclear family as the container for our lives.

We believed this small, isolated structure would allow us to create the lives we really wanted, unencumbered by the demands of extended families, meddling neighbors and social pressures to conform.

The demands of the collective gave way to the liberation of the individual as, at the turn of the 20th century, rural dwellers piled into crowded cities seeking jobs. By mid-century, a post-war economy made a new exodus possible, and life in the suburbs became the new ideal. Citified folks were now moving out to expansive green lawns where splendid isolation was the new dream for modern life.

More recently, hip urban centers with lively cafés, cool cultural centers and app-reviewable restaurants have captured our collective imagination as the best place to live. Young adults, in particular, are flocking back to cities.

Despite skyrocketing rents and increasingly tiny apartments, these are great places to experiment with identity, seek out one’s tribe, and eventually search for a life partner. And it’s all quite wonderful— until perhaps two people meet, settle down and become parents.

And here’s where contemporary culture may be encountering a profound but forgotten truth: Whether in the city or in the suburbs, I believe we’re not meant to raise children in nuclear families without the support of a community. We’re simply not wired for it.

Raising families without community makes the burden of parenting exponentially harder for us all.

Community reinvented

A year ago, my wife Hélène, our children — then six and 3 years old — and I made a bold move. We boxed up our life in Belgium and flew over the ocean while our stuff slowly made its way in a container across the ocean. We changed not just countries, but how we lived.

We left a bustling city to join an ecovillage in Ithaca, in upstate New York. We now have views of rolling hills and ponds and woods and trails. There’s an organic farm on the village’s land, which feeds us. Our neighbors have become friends and extended family. And there are kids and playgrounds all around.

We loved our life in Brussels, but something had begun to feel off. Like everyone around us, “home” was limited to the four walls of our house. Outside, we greeted our neighbors but we barely knew them.

The default assumption was that we should be self-sufficient, that we had to own everything we needed. It would simply be too awkward to ask a neighbor to borrow a drill. Or for some butter to avoid a trip to the supermarket.

If something needed fixing, we had to hire someone for the repair. If our children wanted to play with friends, we had to call their friends’ parents or go through a long back-and-forth of text messages to arrange the logistics of a play date: How about Thursday? Can you drop them at 4:00 p.m. if we bring them back at 6:00 p.m.?

A longing began to develop — for more meaningful relationships, for genuine community. For lives that were closer to nature. To consume less. To live a little lighter on the earth.

For all these reasons, moving to our ecovillage in Ithaca was an inspired decision. Three months after our move, we had to fly back to Brussels for administrative reasons, and it already felt like a past life. Boy, everything feels tense and complicated here, we thought. In no time, our new life just felt right.

From our stays in the village before our move, we knew that living here would be a priceless gift for our children. Cars are parked at the entry of the village so kids may roam safely and freely on hundreds of acres of meadows and woods.

There are two ponds to swim in the summer and skate in winter, and several outdoor and indoor playgrounds. In our previous life, our children’s world was literally the size of our house. Now it’s extended to hundreds of acres. Children here are truly “free-range kids”.

More important even than space, there are other children and loving adults. Children here are graced with autonomy—they run over to a friend’s house to play and when it’s time for dinner, will often spontaneously be invited to stay. I love to add a plate or two when my kids’ friends (well, really, they are myfriends, too!) stay for dinner or add that extra mattress for a sleepover they’ve just organized. What a childhood they get to have!

So, we knew we would be offering our children a wonderful life, and yet there was something closely related we completely failed to anticipate — how much community would change our lives as parents.

Being a parent is hard. Not all the time, of course. There are many joy-filled moments — times when we look at our children and our hearts nearly burst. Times we can’t possibly imagine what our lives would be without them. But studies find that over the course of a lifetime, happiness levels take a serious dip during the parenting years for most, while stress and tiredness peak.

Here’s what I’ve discovered: much of that strain is self-inflicted.

The dream of individualized lives, of the nuclear family as the basis of modern existence, is not conducive to joyful parenting. For hundreds of thousands of years, children were raised within multigenerational family structures. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors and other members of the tribe or community watched over the children and interacted with them. Not everything depended on the parents! As the saying goes, “it takes a village.”

Both parents and children pay the price for modern isolation. I wonder how much of the stress, depression, and existential anxieties increasingly diagnosed in both adults and children might be related to this isolation?

The solution, I’m convinced, is not to dial back the clock and try to rebuild past forms of community. Who would want to live under constant scrutiny and judgment from extended family, neighbors, or fellow churchgoers, anyway? Ecovillages, co-housing and intentional communities much better suit our need for privacy and community.

In our particular ecovillage, we have our own house where we enjoy full privacy, as any other family might expect. But when we want or need it, a loving community is just at our doorstep. We can engage with our community as little or as much as we desire. People here are pretty diverse but we respect one another’s differences; we feel no pressure to conform to any particular mold.

Parenting transformed by community

How is parenting changed through intentional community? Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Our children’s newfound autonomy to roam and seek out friends translates into the biggest luxury we as parents can ask for: more free time! Often, we are not quite sure where our children are, and we feel great about it (well that is, until its dinner or bedtime!). We know they are safe and they are having fun somewhere.

At times, their autonomy even translates into more sleep for us. Last winter, my wife and I awoke some mornings to discover that our 6-year-old son had been up for two hours. Rather than waking us, he’d put on his skies and left for an expedition in the snow. Greater autonomy meets a deep need for the children. And boy, it’s been a blessing for us, as well.

While we are on the topic of more free time, did I mention our three common dinners every week? Some neighbors volunteer to cook regular meals for the community and everyone is invited. Especially as young parents, to get a break from having to cook every night feels like luxury!

Most weeks, we join two or three of these meals in the week, but at times, the four of us simply like to snuggle at home and may not join any common meals for a week or two. Other times, it all depends on what is on the menu.

The calming influence of nature has been another boon for us as parents. When things grow intense around the house, when a disagreement breaks out between the children, or when the noise level threatens to turn us into the kind of parents we don’t want to be, we tell our kids: let’s go for a walk. We often do this spontaneously, sometimes just before bedtime when the kids are already in pajamas. We simply close the door behind us and become enveloped by the quieting presence of nature.

No longer the only entertainers, no longer the only role-models

A few weeks into our lives here, we noticed we’d stopped planning for the weekend ahead. When we lived in the city, we had to make plans. There would always come a time when the kids needed to be out of the house or we would all go mad. Will we go to a park? A museum? Arrange a play date with friends?

But here, something is always happening. There are blueberries to pick or apple cider to press. There’s a pond to swim in, or broom ball to play on its frozen surface in winter. A neighbor has a new pet! Or a grandpa has put out a telescope and kids line up to marvel at the moon. The pressure of entertaining our children no longer rests on our shoulders alone.

As our children grow up in the caring web of this community, their mother and I will no longer be their only role models and inspirations, which brings a subtle sense of relief. In the ecovillage, people have such a wide array of talents and interests.

Hélène and I are not musicians, but we sense that our 4-year old daughter has a musical inclination. Will she choose to spend time with Lizzie, who plays cello, or with Joe, a guitarist, violinist and touring songwriter? Or with Kathryn or Robert who play piano? Perhaps she’ll listen in on the village’s Cuban drumming group or its choir practice.

And as she and her brother grow into teens, I’m sure the bonds they build will serve them well. Parents who’ve raised children through teenage years here tell us how wonderful it is when their sometimes shy and awkward teen has other adults with whom they can talk and relate.

Recently, Ethan, a strong, tall 18-year-old who grew up in our ecovillage returned home from college for a visit. I was walking with a neighbor, Phebe, in her sixties, who has known him since he was a child. Like many adults and children here, they’ve developed a special bond.

When Ethan saw Phebe, he broke out in a big grin and started running. He threw himself into her arms. Witnessing the scene, I was deeply touched, tears springing to my eyes; I’d never seen a young man run and throw himself into the arms of an adult for an embrace. Here was a child that had been loved not only by his parents and grandparents, but by his wider community. And here was a woman who was blessed to be in a place where she could love not just her own child, but this boy too — and probably a few others in the community as well.

Community and non-violent parenting

Like an increasing number of people, Hélène and I try to raise our children without punishments or rewards, threats or promises. This is sometimes referred to as non-violent parenting. We strive to help our children express their needs, share with them our own needs, and together make decisions that work for everyone.

Most of the time, this works beautifully. Our children are both very strong willed, and yet they have developed a capacity for empathy and cooperation that many adults find surprising. But they are only four and 7 years old. There are moments in which their needs are all-consuming, when they’re simply not open or able to engage. They insist on getting what they want, not matter what, and may yell, cry or sometimes hit to make it happen. In more traditional parenting, this is where we’d bring out the arsenal of threats and punishments.

Recently, I talked about this with Miki Kashtan, a friend and leading figure in the world of non-violent communication and facilitation. I explained to her that in some of those moments, I feel stuck.

I’ve forfeited the weapon that parents have used for thousands of years: to “make” my children obey me and do what I want, by threatening them into submission. And I’m glad I have. And yet, I can become frustrated at times when my children become stuck in a place where my needs (say, my need for quiet) are ignored, while they loudly insist that theirs get met. In those moments, I sometimes feel lost.

Miki’s answer will stay with me. She said, “You are trying to solve the problem in the wrong context. You can’t solve this within the nuclear family. You can only solve it in the context of community.”

Of course, she’s right! It’s not reasonable to ask young children to be able, at all times, to engage in problem-solving to meet everyone’s needs. It’s hard enough for them to understand and express their own needs (I mean, it’s hard for us adults too!), and at times, they are simply too overwhelmed to listen to our needs. In those moments, our greatest tool is the support of others. We must be able to say: I’m stepping out to get my needs met. Can you please take over?

The only way to parent in non-violent ways, without exhausting ourselves, is within the context of community. Now that Miki helped me see this so clearly, I’ve started knocking more often at a neighbor’s door to ask: “Can you be with my kids for 15 minutes / an hour / the afternoon? I really need some time on my own! And I’m more than happy to do this for you next time you need it.”

Too rosy a picture?

What are the downsides to parenting in community? Perhaps at this stage, it sounds like I’m painting a very rosy picture. When I question elders around our ecovillage who’ve been parents here before us, one downside is often mentioned. Living in close proximity exposes children to different parenting styles and rules.

Our children often come home with challenging questions: “Why can Julie keep playing outside when it’s bedtime for me? Can I watch x movie or play x video game since Flynn is allowed to watch/play?”

In community, even more than in some traditional settings, our children will challenge us to justify — and sometimes even reconsider — our parenting choices. “Because I say so!” would be a difficult line to toe here!

There have been cases in the past where different perspectives and choices have led to tensions between some parents. We haven’t personally experienced this so far, and gratefully, we seem to be navigating differences in style with grace. Our children are still quite young, however, and I can imagine that by their teens, any issues we face together will grow in size.

What if we feel that a friend is not the best influence? If this is not a friend from school, but a friend living in the community, things could be both easier and trickier. We could witness things firsthand and have more power to participate in the dynamics and shape them, but that child’s parents would also be our neighbors and perhaps our friends.

I hope the shared context of community will invite us to work any potential problems out, to dive deeply into conversation, and continue communicating in respectful ways. That is essential to what I signed up for when I joined the ecovillage — sharing in meaningful conversations and not shying away from the beauty and occasional messiness of human relationships.

Rediscovering the obvious

Through 99% of human history, anthropologists tell us that children grew up in community. We know from surviving hunter-gatherer societies that adults don’t entertain the notion that children need to be “raised.” In these cultures, youngsters learn all essential skills — physical, social, emotional — through play with other children in the tribe and by imitating and interacting with adults.

Children are much more autonomous than their modern counterparts, and play and learn all day in mixed-age groups. When they need adults, they seek out anyone at hand. Their parents aren’t their only resources.

While I knew this, I’d believed it was ancient history. It took living in supportive community to understand that we are still deeply wired for this. We can try and live in isolated, nuclear families, but there’s a price to be paid. Restlessness and anxiety rises in children who are denied the autonomy to roam and play and learn among peers. Stress and overwhelm reign for parents who shoulder a burden they are not meant to carry.

A century ago, people began rejecting communities which felt restrictive and suffocating, and aspired for the freedom of more individualist lifestyles. The good news is that we are reinventing communities of choice. There is a growing movement of ecovillages, co-housing, and intentional community-making around the world.

Many offer the best of both worlds: autonomy andcommunion. Privacy and freedom. The liberty to express ourselves fully and wholeheartedly within the context of a meaningful, rich community — to whatever degree we choose. For young parents, in particular, I believe this combination at this time in history is almost irresistible — and perhaps deeply necessary.

What do you think?

If the idea of parenting in community resonates, I encourage you to go and visit ecovillages and co-housing communities. Our ecovillage near Ithaca, NY hosts monthly public tours for a quick introduction. You can also come and stay for a few days in one of the village’s BnBs, to feel the place and see whether it might be something for you.

Houses regularly come up for rent or sale, and we are always thrilled to welcome new families. Many of the children of the village’s founders have grown up, and we are currently welcoming a new generation of parents.

My experience is that it’s best to visit a few different places, to help you better understand what might work best for you and your family. They come in all colors and flavors. I wish you happy exploration and I believe your children will thank you. And I have a hunch you’ll thank yourself too! As my wife and I have so joyfully discovered, there is an easier, more fulfilling way to be a parent.

I highly recommend Peter Gray’s book Free to Learn. Learning about childhood in hunter and gather societies asks powerful, and at times disturbing, questions about how we think about raising children, in families and in schools.

Originally posted on Medium.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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This is birth: A surrogacy journey shares the incredible story of how one surrogate came to carry four children for a couple, and how they all became like family to each other in the process.

We had the honor of catching up with surrogate Jessica Pretz to learn more about how this incredible story came to be.

Five years ago, when surrogate Jessica met intended parents Sharon and Lake, she felt an immediate click. "It was like going on a first date and meeting with someone you knew you were supposed to be aligned with. We all just felt that connection."

Jessica had given birth to three of her own children, and had recently finished her first journey as a surrogate, carrying twins for another couple. Jessica agreed to be a gestational carrier for Sharon and Lake.

Throughout that first pregnancy, the intended parents, Jessica and her family all became very close. Jessica, who is currently a Surrogate Coordinator for Circle Surrogacy, clarifies that this is not always the case with surrogacy—this particular connection is unique.

"The relationship I have with Sharon and Lake is quite different than the one I have with my first intended parents. I respect the level of contact and communication that each intended parent desires. Their family was very involved with the pregnancy and wanted to take part in as many appointments as possible, help with fundal height measurements."

Watch their surrogacy journey captured by Jennifer Hamilton of Mamarazzi Photography here:

Sharon and Lake were by Jessica's side throughout the birth of their first child, Campbell, and even "caught'" him when he was born. When they asked if she wanted to carry a sibling for him just moments after Campbell was born, Jessica says she didn't need to hesitate before saying yes.

"There was no doubt in my mind that I would love to carry another for them. They are everything I could ask for in intended parents and they are a joy to go through pregnancy with."

Less than two years later, Jessica gave birth to Sharon and Lake's second child, Sailor, in what Jessica describes as an "amazing, fast water birth."

After carrying two of their children, she initially hesitated to take on another surrogacy journey.

"I knew after the second journey that they had remaining embryos left. I had six pregnancies under my belt at that point, all of which were vaginal and unmedicated births. I had no complications as of yet, and I was fearful of something going wrong. I tossed up the idea of them using another surrogate to carry their remaining two over the course of two more journeys. I only would have done one more pregnancy as I was ready to not be pregnant or pumping breastmilk and spend time focusing on my own family."

But after some discussion and consulting with her family, Sharon and Lake, her birth team and reproductive endocrinologist, they all decided to do one more journey together—and transfer the last two remaining embryos. Both took— and they became pregnant with twins. In their birth film, you can see the emotional moment when the twin pregnancy is confirmed, while Jessica is on the phone with Sharon and Lake from the ultrasound room.

Initial fears aside, Jessica explains how the decision itself was, ultimately, second nature: "Deciding to carry all four of their kids really wasn't a hard decision. I am a big part of their lives and most importantly their kid's stories. It would have been odd for me to not help them complete their family."

Watching the birth film, it is truly powerful to witness the love, support and familial connection between Jessica, Sharon and Lake while their twins are born. In one sweet moment, Sharon is embracing Jessica during labor as they both cry.

Even after the birth of their twins, Sharon, Lake, Jessica and her family have all stayed close—even vacationing together. Jessica says she and Sharon are close friends who talk about parenting, marriage and life in general. "It's really a beautiful connection we share."

On how it feels to be a surrogate, Jessica shares, "The best part of being a surrogate is getting to see a couple become a family and the look on their faces when they first see their baby or babies. It is truly an honor to carry these babies and be entrusted with their care."

As a mother of four children herself, we wanted to know more about how Jessica's family has reacted to her surrogacy journeys. "My family is extremely supportive of my surrogate pregnancies and quite proud of the joy I have been able to bring to others through surrogacy. The intended parents I have carried for have become family to us and my own biological family regularly communicates via social media with them."

She continues, "My kids are little advocates and educators on surrogacy. I feel that my children have learned selflessness and sacrifice through my journeys. I always say that while it is the woman who is pregnant, the journey of surrogacy takes the whole family's support."

We're so thankful to both of these families for allowing us to share their incredible surrogacy story.

This is birth: A Surrogacy Journey was captured by Jennifer Hamilton of Mamarazzi Photography.

We started our This is: Birth film series to give representation to the many varied ways women give birth. Watch more curated birth films here.

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When women become mothers, they usually have two options: Go back to work or stay home with the little one. This is how it was when I had my first child, and I was angry that there weren't more flexible options for mothers who wanted to work, but on their own terms.

It can be tough to feel inspired when you're thrown back into (or continue to remain in) a 40-hour workweek that isn't flexible. Luckily, we can create better working options (and a happier life in general) for mamas, but we're going to have to do it ourselves, starting with our mindset.

Here are nine phrases we can tell ourselves to be productive and efficient mamas:

1. "My kids come first, but so do I."

It's okay to carve out time that's just for you, whether that means quiet time alone, meeting up with a friend or signing up for a class. At the end of the day, a happy, fulfilled mama leads to happier kids.

2. "My kids are young, but I can still achieve my goals."

If you want to start your own business, or move to another country or accept that promotion, do it now. Only you know when it's the right time, but it's a myth that your motherly duties require you to wait until your kids graduate from college before you can start doing what inspires you.

3. "It's never too late to make a change."

Maybe you invested time and money to get a degree, and you're afraid of veering off-course to do something you really love that's completely unrelated. Or maybe you're intimidated about rejoining the workforce after taking a break to raise kids. I've seen over and over that it's never too late to find out what happens when you follow your passion.

4. "I'm not ready yet, but I will be."

What does "ready" look like? Spoiler: you won't be ready for every challenge that comes your way. But that's okay. Figuring it out as you go is the only way to learn when you're in uncharted waters. Not feeling ready means you have some self-awareness about your weaknesses, and that's a great place to start. When you embrace the unknown, you learn more about yourself and will likely have a lot of fun along the way.

5. "I can do it all...with help."

Mothers are superhero multi-taskers, but doing it all can have a negative impact on your life and relationships over time. Establishing boundaries is key to a happy, healthy life. At work, giving someone else an opportunity to shine shows that you're a team player, not just in it for yourself. This applies to your children, too. You know what your kids are capable of and can help them build confidence by giving them responsibility.

When we're honest and open about our struggles, it draws people in. Leaning on a community will lighten the load and deepen your relationships with the ones you let in. Use Facebook groups and social media to find your village. Find your village today.

6. "I'm okay just the way I am."

People may look very polished and shiny when they post photos on Facebook or Instagram, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Comparing yourself to others is not helpful; you have to find what works for you and block out the rest. If it works for you, then you're doing it right.

7. "I have to leave early to take my kid to __________."

If you're leaving work early because your daughter's ballet recital is important to you, own that, and don't apologize, because you're not alone.

8. "I will be present in every moment."

I know it's tempting to check your phone while you're watching your kids on the playground, but dividing your attention doesn't make you more productive. Moms are awesome multi-taskers, but give your full attention and be present wherever you are. Whether at work or with your kids, quality is more important than quantity.

9. "I am good enough."

If you're having a moment of self-criticism, stop and ask yourself: Would I say this to a friend? If you would never utter bad words to someone else, don't say these things over yourself Be kind and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You are good enough.

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Learn + Play

As a parent, you might want to do the right things for our environment, especially knowing your children will inherit it. At the same time, with a tiny human relying on you, time is incredibly valuable.

What is a carbon footprint?

Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon emitted as a direct or indirect result of an activity, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases and others. Unfortunately, carbon is being released at a much faster rate than it can be absorbed by natural processes.

Currently, the average U.S. per capita carbon footprint is 18.3 tons, and the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project reports in order to hold the global temperature rise to 2˚C or less, everyone on earth will need to average an annual carbon footprint of 1.87 tons by 2050. This seems like a lofty goal, but there are things we can do to shift emissions in a more positive direction.

As a scientist focusing on sustainability, here are nine ways to reduce your carbon footprint in under five minutes:

1. Host a kids clothing and toy swap party.

It's no secret that kids outgrow clothing and toys quickly. Consider gathering fellow parents and friends, pooling together the items your kids no longer need, and going "shopping" for what you need.

Exchanging what you already have reduces greenhouse gas emissions in a few ways. It lowers the amount of power needed to produce brand new clothing and toys, and it shifts demand away from the plane and truck fuel used to fulfill online orders. Plus, it's an opportunity to socialize and save your hard-earned money.

2. Offer chores that save energy.

Recycling and turning off the lights, air conditioner and the heat may be simple tasks, but they'll teach your little ones how to keep a green household. Explain that the less power you consume, the lower your carbon footprint and that by properly sorting recycling and food scraps, the less greenhouse gas emissions there'll be in landfills. You can have kids help to place recycling in the right bins each day.

3. Encourage other modes of transportation.

Biking and walking are fabulous ways to reduce carbon emissions. Encouraging your kid to get on two wheels or to take a family walk to dinner. If you have to drive, see if you can carpool with friends or family to cut down on the amount of car time.

4. Use reusable diapers when possible.

Producing disposable diapers costs a lot of energy and emits greenhouse gases. While disposable diapers can be totally necessary, using reusable diapers even just a small percentage of the time (perhaps only on the weekends) helps lower our overall consumption and landfill waste.

But, if you must use disposable diapers, buy biodegradable ones that can be composted after you use them.

5. Switch to clean makeup.

Putting on makeup can be a moment of self-care, but clean beauty is more environmentally-friendly and healthier than traditional makeup, which can be made with harmful chemicals. Plus, many women love the peace of mind that comes with using makeup free of harmful chemicals around their children.

Most traditional makeup brands use ingredients derived from fossil fuels, while clean makeup companies use more plant-based ingredients. Going clean shifts demand away from non-renewable resources towards more renewable ones which ultimately helps the environment. Clean beauty companies are also much more likely to use energy-efficient manufacturing practices, use fewer resources including fewer ingredients, reduce packaging waste, and be more responsible about sourcing ingredients in a way that's kind to the earth.

6. Consider how you feed your baby.

Breastfeeding is great for the environment! You can make your impact even bigger by choosing eco-conscious products like reusable breast pads, or reusable breast milk storage items.

If you are bottle-feeding, opt for glass bottles if possible. And when you buy formula, see if you can find large containers instead of small—it will reduce the amount of garbage you throw out.

7. Encourage your kids to conserve water.

The more water-efficient your house is, the better as treating and pumping water uses energy. Teach your children to turn off the faucet when they're brushing their teeth, and get them in the habit of taking showers of a reasonable length instead of baths that require three times more water than a shower.

8. Use reusable grocery bags.

Producing paper and plastic bags takes energy. Find a few reusable bags–it's a bonus if they're cute and fun to use–and bring them with you to the store. If you forget to use the bags, store them in places you always see. For example, you might put the bags in the driver's seat next to your purse on your way to the store. And once you get home and unpack the groceries and put them in your entryway where you'll see them the next time you're heading to the car.

9. Join your energy provider's energy-saving program.

Many energy providers offer the free option to get your power from energy-efficient sources, like wind power. Place a quick call and ask about your options. They should be able to switch you over immediately and once it's done, you don't have to worry about it on your to-do list anymore.

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Learn + Play

For most breastfeeding mothers, being away from your baby means lugging a breast pump with you to work or through airport security and painstakingly packing up your milk to bring or send back to your baby. But a mother who made headlines this week can't take her milk to her baby because she doesn't know when she will see her again.

Maria Domingo-Garcia is among the hundreds of workers picked up by ICE at food processing plants in Mississippi on August 7. When she left for work that day she said goodbye to her husband and three children, including the 4-month-old daughter she was nursing. All three children are U.S. citizens, CNN reports.

Mom's lawyers say she was not able to nurse or pump since being detained 

Earlier this week, when Domingo-Garcia had been separated from her daughter for 12 days, her lawyers told media that she was in a lot of pain as she had not been able to breastfeed or pump for nearly two weeks.

Not being able to drain one's breasts can lead to engorgement, which can lead to mastitis. Both engorgement and mastitis are painful, and mastitis can even be deadly if mothers cannot get medical help.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated that a nurse had examined Domingo-Garcia and that she's not producing milk. Her lawyers say they were not present for or aware of this examination, and one of them, Ybarra Maldonado, suggests that the stress Domingo-Garcia is under may have impacted her ability to lactate.

"If during a test she didn't produce milk, perhaps it's because she's been detained for 12 days and going through a horrible situation," Maldonado told CNN.

Indeed, it is possible for a mother to stop lactating if she is separated from her baby for as long as Domingo-Garcia has been. Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor, says that "the process by which lactation ceases varies so much. It depends on many variables including how long and how frequently a woman was breastfeeding or pumping, how slow or fast she stopped, her emotional state, and simply her individual anatomy. It is 100% possible that Domingo-Garcia had been lactating prior to being taken by ICE."

While attorneys and ICE officials continue to debate whether or not this mother was lactating, her husband continues to try to bottle feed their daughter, an American citizen who is now going without her mother and without breastmilk.

The children are being hurt

One in four children in America has immigrant parents, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute. What's more, 75% of those children (including Domingo-Garcia's) have parents who have been in the US for more than 10 years. Like Domingo-Garcia's kids, 91% of the children of immigrants are citizens. But only 61% of the parents in these families can say the same.

That means there are more than 7 million kids in the US (most of whom are American) who have non-citizen parents and are extremely vulnerable to the same kind of trauma Domingo-Garcia's children are going through. And to call it trauma isn't speculation—it's science. We know that separating children from their parents does long term damage to kids.

"The effect is catastrophic," Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School told the Washington Post last year. "There's so much research on this that if people paid attention at all to the science, they would never do this."

That is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stands against the detention of immigrant children, who may soon be detained indefinitely if a plan announced Wednesday proceeds. The AAP also warns against separating children from their parents or primary caregiver unless that person is abusing the child.

"It is the position of the AAP that children in the custody of their parents should never be detained, nor should they be separated from a parent, unless a competent family court makes that determination. In every decision about children, government decision-makers should prioritize the best interests of the child," the APP noted in its 2017 policy statement Detention of Immigrant Children.

Domingo-Garcia's children are not being detained, but they are being hurt by their mother's detention and child advocates say far too many children know their pain.

​When mom or dad is taken

Domingo-Garcia was far from the only immigrant parents working in Mississippi food processing plants the day of the ICE raid that changed her family's life. There were so many more parents who didn't come home that day. The day that also happened to be the first day of school in Scott County.

School superintendent Tony McGee told The Clarion Ledger his staff were working hard to help the children who were displaced or impacted by the ICE raids, and he acknowledged that the situation will impact students' academic abilities. "We'll worry about the school part of it after we get all this sorted out," he said. "You can't expect a child to stay focused on the schoolwork when he's trying to focus on where Mom and Dad are."

Indeed, research links parental incarceration with children developing attention deficit disorders, developmental and speech delays, learning disabilities and behavior problems.

And yet, in some ways, parental incarceration may be better for children than parental detention, which is what Domingo-Garcia's experience is defined as. Incarceration is something that follows a conviction and is a long-term thing. Kids whose parents are convicted of a crime and sent to prison often know where mom or dad is and may even get to maintain a relationship with them.

Detention, on the other hand, is a temporary, more slippery state. The children of those in ICE facilities don't know when or if they are coming home or if they will be deported.

There are other ways in which having a parent incarcerated in prison is different than having one detained in an ICE facility. In some American prisons, moms are permitted to nurse their babies. If Domingo-Garcia had gone to prison in New Mexico she would have the right to breastfeed and the right to pump milk for her baby. But she went to work in Mississippi instead.

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