Thank you to my little ones for being patient with me

I am one of the lucky ones. I have a supportive husband, who is in it with me, every single day. We both still have our jobs and are able to work from home easily. We have a backyard where the boys can run around. Our school system has embraced distance learning while making a real effort to make it as easy as possible on the parents. And above all, we are safe and healthy. And I feel like despite all that...It. Is. Hard. Like really hard.

Now, more than ever, I make an effort to check in on my mom friends, because mom guilt is real–and there is something about a global pandemic that has a way of compounding these already swirling feelings.

Group texts with my friends have become even more important. They are a place to vent about the day, show support to each other, and remind each other what day of the week it actually is. Every day a new friend is reaching out for validation because she feels like a bad mom, a subpar employee, a terrible wife, or some combination of all of these.

The other day, it was me who was struggling. I yelled a lot that day, and I'm not one who typically yells. After I cried and received the validation I needed from my friends, that I in fact was not a bad mom, I took a minute to think about what was going on around me. And the realization smacked me right in the face.

I am expecting so much of these little tiny humans, day in and day out.

The expectations I have set for them are not realistic given their ages at 5 and 2 years old. They do not know how to navigate this time, they have never seen anything like this before. And frankly, neither have I. It is uncharted territory for all of us. I feel guilty and sad. I want them to still be happy, sweet, loving kids, they deserve that. And I felt like my expectations were robbing them of that.

I am asking them to not be scared or worried about the virus, even though I am every single day.

I am asking them to understand "quarantine" and why they can't see their friends. I am asking them to understand why we no longer have big family get-togethers. I am asking them to understand that they can not hug their grandparents. I am asking them to understand why we can't go to the park or why school was canceled. I am asking them to give me space while I stress about unpacking groceries on the front steps with gloves.

I am expecting them to totally change up their routine, and now conform to mine.

I am expecting them to structure their school work and playtime around my work schedule. I am expecting them to be patient when I can't play with them every single time they ask. I am expecting them to be quiet while I'm on, what seems like, the hundredth work call I've had that day. And worst of all, I am snapping at them, when I'm on a deadline, and they have asked for their fifth snack of the morning.

Thank you, boys, for being resilient and flexible.

I have been forced to go from a helicopter mom, to a "yes I'll allow that" mom because I can't be everywhere at the same time. With the lack of constant attention, something beautiful has happened––they now play nicely together. They have become more independent and helpful to each other. They have taken on responsibilities and chores around the house. They are growing up in the best way possible, right before my eyes.

Thank you, boys, for thriving during this time.

Despite the uncertainty, stress and changes in routine, they are thriving. We are thriving as a family. Hearing them say "I love quarantine" makes my mama heart melt. And, honestly, I do too. It has been amazing to slow down, and not be rushing from one place to another, all week and all weekend. We love eating every meal together and having slow starts to the day. Spending all day in PJs has become a regular occurrence. Watching them play together in the fort they built, that has a NO PARENTS ALLOWED sign, makes me smile proudly.

Thank you, boys, for continuing to teach me about the important things in life.

Part of me wishes we could stay in this little bubble of love forever. I feel so lucky to have received this time back as a family. You both have made it so much fun. You both bring so much joy and laughter to my life. You make me proud to be your mama.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.


Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.


Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.


Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.


BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.


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


Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

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