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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!


We welcomed our son, Liam, the following spring and we were so in love with our little family. Parenthood suited us.

We knew we always wanted two children, with hopes of having a boy and a girl. Two seemed like a manageable and practical number for us. There were two of us so we could handle them individually , and I have a pair of hands—one for each child to hold. Heck, even carnival rides came in pairs. So, when we welcomed our daughter Emilia, two years later, we felt blessed.

However, I did not feel like our family was complete.

This was odd considering that we had always discussed having two children, and we were very fortunate to have a boy and a girl. What more was there to want?

But a voice inside sparked an internal debate regarding a third child and I couldn’t shake it. I struggled with this internal dialogue for months going over every pro and con that a new addition would bring.

When Emilia was roughly 15 months old, I expressed this desire to my husband. Admittedly, he said that his heart felt full with our two children but he enjoyed the idea of a third. However, he truly had no desire to regress back to the newborn days.

Honestly, I couldn’t blame him. While precious, those early days are rough.. They are filled with sleepless nights and sharing my body for nine months, plus additional time for another round of breastfeeding.

At this point, we were spoiled in parent terms. We were just about out of the diaper phase, both children were consistently sleeping through the night, traveling (even to the grocery store) was a breeze, and financially we were stable.

Even with so much logic urging me to stick with two kids, I could not manage to get the idea of a third out of my head.

I turned to friends and family for opinions and first-hand experience on the topic hoping it would definitively sway me one way or the other. My husband’s grandmother, having raised five children herself, offered that with each additional child, things get easier. And after the second, it makes no difference how many you have. While on the other hand, a dear friend and mom of three, offered that a third will either ‘make or break us’. Yikes! I wasn’t sure which side of the fence we would fall on.

It wasn’t until I heard some words of wisdom from my mother that I found peace. She reminded me that bringing home another baby will be filled with sleepless nights followed by early mornings caring for the older two. That the mess and noise will be amplified times three and I will feel like pulling my hair out. And that there will be days where I feel like everything is a juggling act instead of a well-balanced life.

And just when I thought I had made up my mind, she shared this: she regretted not having a third baby.

My mother explained that she and my father just could not see past the early days with me and my brother. It was draining, mentally and physically, and she felt like another child would break her.

With a tear in her eye, she went on to say, “But no one told me how beautiful the bigger picture is.”

That’s when it dawned on me. We were only looking at our family on a micro-level, grumbling about the day-to-day tantrums, messes and lack of sleep.

I closed my eyes and saw us 10 years out. I saw family vacations hiking through the redwoods and surfing at the beach. I saw a full house with lots of different experiences being shared around the kitchen table. I saw us as a family of five. And I felt at peace for the first time.

In May, we welcomed our third child, Isla Elena.

What seemed so difficult the first two times around felt like second nature with our third.

But, this is parenthood. What we originally deem difficult eventually fades, making way for the next phase. And in our tenure as parents, I am certain that there will be many, many new challenges as our children grow.

My husband and I now greet these difficult times with the mantra, “This too shall pass.” The difficult times are so temporary and pass as quickly as they come, so why not enjoy the ride?

Isla has been in our lives for almost three months now. There are still days where I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread and wonder if I am equipped to be a mother to three, but then I remember those words of wisdom from my mother.

Those words keep me going through the sleep depravity and waves of tantrums, and remind me that I am laying the groundwork for what is to come.

Looking to the future as a family of five and all the adventures we will share warms my heart. And in the meantime, I choose to enjoy these early days no matter how messy and sleepless they may be. I know, together, we will figure it all out as we go.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.


The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Many people experience the "winter blues," which are often worst in northern climates from November to March, when people have less access to sunlight, the outdoors and their communities. Another 4% develops Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of clinical depression that often requires formal treatment.

If you have the winter blues, you may feel “blah," sad, tired, anxious or be in a worse mood than usual. You may struggle with overeating, loss of libido, work or sleep issues. But fear not—it is possible to find your joy in the winter, mama.

Here are eight ways to feel better:

1. Take a walk

Research has shown that walking on your lunch break just three times per week can reduce tension, relax you and improve your enthusiasm. If you are working from 9 to 5, the only window you have to access natural sunlight may be your lunch hour, so head outside for a 20 minute brisk but energizing walk!

If you are home, bundle up with your kids midday—when the weather is often warmest—and play in the snow, go for a short walk, play soccer, race each other, or do something else to burn energy and keep you all warm. If you dress for the weather, you'll all feel refreshed after some fresh air.

2. Embrace light

Research suggests that a full-spectrum light box or lamp, which mimics sunlight, can significantly improve the symptoms of the winter blues and has a similar effect to an antidepressant. Bright light at a certain time every day activates a part of the brain that can help restore normal circadian rhythms. While light treatment may not be beneficial for everyone (such as people who have bipolar disorder), it may be a beneficial tool for some.

3. Plan a winter trip

It may be helpful to plan a getaway for January or February. Plan to take it very easy, as one research study found that passive vacation activities, including relaxing, "savoring," and sleeping had greater effects on health and well-being than other activities. Engaging in passive activities on vacation also makes it more likely that your health and well-being will remain improved for a longer duration after you go back to work.

Don't overschedule your trip. Relax at a beach, a pool, or a cabin instead of waiting in long roller coaster lines or visiting packed museums. Consider visiting or traveling with family to help with child care, build quiet time into your vacation routine, and build in a day of rest, recovery, and laundry catch-up when you return.

4. Give in to being cozy

Sometimes people mistake the natural slowness of winter as a problem within themselves. By making a concerted effort to savor the slowness, rest and retreat that complement winter, you can see your reduction in activity as a natural and needed phase.

Research suggests that naps help you release stress. Other research suggests that when your brain has time to rest, be idle, and daydream, you are better able to engage in "active, internally focused psychosocial mental processing," which is important for socioemotional health.

Make a "cozy basket" filled with your favorite DVDs, bubble bath or Epsom salts, lemon balm tea (which is great for “blues,") or chamomile tea (which is calming and comforting), citrus oils (which are good for boosting mood), a blanket or a favorite book or two. If you start to feel the blues, treat yourself.

If your child is napping or having quiet time in the early afternoon, rest for a full 30 minutes instead of racing around doing chores. If you're at work, keep a few mood-boosting items (like lavender spray, tea, lotion, or upbeat music) nearby and work them into your day. If you can't use them at work, claim the first 30 minutes after your kids are asleep to nurture yourself and re-energize before you tackle dishes, laundry, or other chores.

5. See your friends

Because of the complex demands of modern life, it can be hard to see or keep up with friends or family. The winter can make it even harder. While you interact with your kids throughout the day, human interaction with other adults (not just through social media!) can act as a protective layer to keep the winter blues at bay.

Plan a monthly dinner with friends, go on a monthly date night if you have a partner, go to a book club, get a drink after work with a coworker, visit a friend on Sunday nights, or plan get-togethers with extended family. Research suggests that social interactions are significantly related to well-being.

Realize that given most families' packed schedules, you may need to consistently take the lead in bringing people together. Your friends will probably thank you, too.

6. Get (at least) 10 minutes of fresh air

A number of research studies have shown positive effects of nature on well-being, including mental restoration, immune health, and memory. It works wonders for your mood to get outside in winter, even if it's just for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. You might walk, snowshoe, shovel, go sledding or go ice-skating. If you can't get outside, you might try these specific yoga poses for the winter blues.

7. Add a ritual

Adding a ritual to your winter, such as movie night, game night, hot chocolate after playing outside, homemade soup on Sundays, or visiting with a different friend every Saturday morning for breakfast, can add beauty and flow to the seemingly long months of winter. Research has suggested that family rituals and traditions, such as Sunday dinner, provide times for togetherness and strengthening relationships.

8. Talk to a professional

Counseling, which helps you identify the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, can be extremely helpful for the winter blues (especially when you are also experiencing anxiety or stress). A counselor can assist you with identifying and honoring feelings, replacing negative messages with positive ones, or shifting behaviors. A counselor may also help you indulge into winter as a time of retreat, slowness, planning, and reflecting. You may choose to use the winter to get clear on what you'd like to manifest in spring.

The opposite of the winter blues is not the absence of the winter blues—it's taking great pleasure in the unique contribution of a time of cold, darkness, retreat, planning, reflecting, being cozy and hibernating. Nurturing yourself and your relationships can help you move toward winter joy.

Weary mama,

You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.

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