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Much has been made lately of the mental load carried by the “default parent.” But how do you know you’re the default parent? If you’re not sure, then it’s probably not you—but here’s an illustration from our household nonetheless.

My husband Jon travels frequently for work—he’s gone some portion of three out of four weeks of the month. He left this morning in fact, for a brief, one-night trip. He packed last night at 9 p.m., and emailed me exactly one document before he left—his travel itinerary.

Meanwhile, I’m getting ready to head out of town for five days beginning on Friday. It’s a solo trip, purely for pleasure, and it will be the longest I’ve been away since our second child was born (she’s now three and a half).

I talked to my mom six months ago about helping with the kids while I’m gone. Before I leave, I will email my husband at least three documents: my travel itinerary, a detailed breakdown of our kids’ schedules (who needs to be picked up from which school when, what security tag/car sign is needed for each pickup, who has which extracurricular activity on which day, what needs to be packed for lunches, what forms needs to be signed each night, etc.), and a list of emergency numbers (pediatrician, babysitter, my travel companion in case I can’t be reached). The day before I leave, I will clean the house, do the laundry and go to the grocery.

Obviously, I am the default parent. This does not mean that I don’t miss my husband while he’s gone (I do) or that his absence isn’t noticed (it is). It just means that, when he’s gone, our household still runs in much the same way it does when he’s here.

Even when there’s no travel looming, the same routine plays out on a smaller scale.

Sundays are often my most stressful day of the week.

It starts in the morning with the grocery list. I comb through the refrigerator and pantry and make note of the staples we’re missing, then I flip through cookbooks, recipe cards, and Pinterest to figure out what we’re having for dinner every night.

I compile everything and make a list of what we need (organized by aisle in the grocery store, of course). Jon is responsible for adding exactly two things to the list—whatever he wants for breakfast and what he’d like to take for lunch each day. Then I hand him the list (and, ideally, at least one child) and he goes to the store.

While he’s gone, I check my phone’s Google calendar against the dry-erase one on the refrigerator door—is Jon traveling this week? Do I have any meetings? Do we have any childcare needs to cover? I make a note to ask Jon if he can be home early on Thursday; I have a board meeting that night.

As the default parent, I am the keeper of the pantry, the schedule and all sports accessories. But the funny thing is, I don’t ever remember a conversation when my husband and I sat down and decided that I was in charge of all those things.

Our marriage started out on 50/50 footing—I washed the clothes; Jon folded them and put them away. I loaded the dishwasher; he unloaded it. I made the grocery lists and gathered our tax documents; he took care of dealing with the cable company and taking out the trash every week.

Like many other default parents, my role has developed out of necessity and common sense. Three years ago, I switched to working from home. My hours are flexible and part-time; my husband’s schedule is far more demanding and rigid. Someone has to do all the things, and gradually that someone became me.

The truth is, I do not begrudge my Sunday burden. Logically, I understand why it needs to fall to me, and it’s become such a part of my routine now that I almost forget how much work it is.

Until I head out of town of course, and I have to write it down in list form. I won’t deny that I took a small amount of pleasure from the way my husband’s eyes boggled when he saw what will need to be done in my absence.

“Wow. Um, when do you get back again?” he stammered.

“Wednesday. Don’t worry; you’ll be fine.”

And he will be.

And so will the kids.

And so will I.

I'm taking a break from default parenting because I deserve it. It'll be good for me. And I think, in a way, it'll be really good for my husband, too.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas


Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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