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A few weeks ago, my daughter turned 20 months old, exactly a year and 8 months. So I thought I would list the 20 things I've learned since I became a mother on that cold typically British, rainy afternoon in January of what seems to be eons ago but was only last year.


Now some of those things are tips and tricks I've adopted for basic survival, some "accepted" truths were forced on me which I had to chuck aside and replace with my own realizations, others I'm still in the process of learning.

So here goes:

1. Sleep is no longer my God-given right

It is a luxury that I would gladly give my right arm and leg for. And if you are lucky enough to get it, congratulations! You are officially part of the 1% of the 1%.

The first few months of motherhood taught me that and I will never be able to unlearn it. Ever. But I’ve discovered a couple of loopholes.

One is sleeping when the baby sleeps. This is one piece of advice I carelessly tossed aside and suffered greatly for it. But when I decided to follow my baby's lead and made nap time my favorite time of the day, my body and mind thanked me for it.

The other loophole is co-sleeping. Nothing has helped me and my baby more than sharing a room and, more often than not, a bed. It’s not right for everyone—but it was for me. (P.S. learn how to more safely co-sleep here.)

Breastfeeding while in the horizontal position has been another Godsend. I don’t regret it.

2. Breastfeeding is the journey of a lifetime

While we're on the subject of breastfeeding, I won't pretend to speak for every mother out there, but my decision to breastfeed and continue breastfeeding turned into an intense journey. However, while initially excruciating, the highs were definitely worth it. I wonder sometimes if the bond that I painstakingly forged with my baby would have been as strong if I hadn't breastfed, given my PPD. Or perhaps it would have taken longer to emerge.

3. Depression is real

Nothing else about motherhood broke me like depression. So I read about it, closely monitored my moods for tell-tale symptoms and talked to my doctor. But aside from getting the required treatment (homeopathic, pharmaceutical or therapy), little things helped like opening up to loved ones about how I was feeling, getting help with housework and making some time in my day for me.

Ultimately, I had to learn to reach out for help, cry out for it if I had to. There's no shame in it. I just wish I wasn’t silent for so long thinking that I could go it alone. Turns out, I can’t. No one can. (For help with depression, go here.)

4. There were times when it felt like there was no "me" anymore

People addressed me as the mother of so-and-so, or bitter old women shamelessly told me point blank that I simply didn't exist beyond my one mission in life of keeping my husband happy and my baby alive. People are ruthless.

This is one of the hardest truths I've had to learn. So I had to lose the wide-eyed naiveté, develop a thicker skin and learn to simply tune out the noise. What do they know anyways? They're not ME.

5. I should’ve talked to my spouse about parenting styles, BEFORE we became parents

I can't stress this enough. My husband and I never really discussed anything beyond having the baby in the UK. I guess we just thought we'd figure it out along the way. And we did, the hard way.

After much going back and forth, arguments, and counterarguments, we've found a tentative middle ground. We've found what worked for our little family.

So if there is one piece of advice I can give to new mothers and their partners is to talk to each other, A LOT. It will save you a lot of time, energy and frustration. (P.S., Motherly offers a class helping couples become parents.)

6. Just be present in the moment

I've personally struggled with this a lot. Sometimes I still do. I experienced motherhood for the first time in a new country. Add to that my PPD, plus my initial problems with breastfeeding, plus having hardly any help, plus a Pandora's box of other little annoyances and issues and it’s no wonder that I found myself under water so many times.

I forgot how to enjoy those all too fleeting moments with my daughter. But after a while, I learned to stop the inner chatter, and breathe. It's just me and my baby. No one in the world will love me like she does. I am grateful for that love. I have found nothing else calms my soul like my daughter's smile.

7. Follow my instincts above all else

I learned to trust myself, rather than some parenting book written by some snooty doctor who has no idea about my child's complexities, or people who had babies before the age of cell phones. In fact, I had to get rid of them.

Nine times out of 10, when I went with my gut, I was proven right and was able to act in the best interests of my child, rather than follow someone else's advice and then end up doing damage control and engaging in a vicious cycle of self-blame and self-doubt.

8. About guilt: Been there, done that.

So don't go there. Just don't. I know it's easier said than done. It seems the one universal trait shared among all mothers is guilt.

There's no rhyme or reason to it. We do the best we can, with whatever resources we have, expending all our energy and giving up chunks of our lives for the well-being of our children. So where exactly does the guilt fit in?

If I let it in, I open my psyche to a whole host of other monsters: low self-esteem, self-doubt, and misery all around.

We do this to ourselves. Baby doesn't care about the unwashed dishes in the sink, the laundry I didn't get to, or even that I didn't change her diaper exactly on the 2-hour mark. Babies are surprisingly forgiving, (they will forgive you even when you lose your mind and you can't seem to forgive yourself). So I took a page out of their books.

9. Just like how I had to learn to ask for help, I had to learn to say no to people

Most importantly, to my inner critic. I don't have to make it to every social engagement. I certainly don't have to have a gourmet dinner on the table every night. Take out and Netflix turned out to be my best friends.

10. The little things matter

For the first few months of motherhood, I looked like a hot mess. But when things settled down and I established something approaching a normal routine, especially when I was working from home, I made it a point to wear makeup every day.

I'm not talking about full-on glam makeup. Just a little concealer, some mascara and lipstick did wonders. It made me look and feel more put together, more human, more like a woman than a zombie from the Walking Dead.

11. Meditate, meditate, meditate.

I'm still working on this one. When I'm all over the place and I feel the onset of a panic attack because I decided to torture myself with questions like, OMG, what if we never leave Egypt? What if I can't get my career back on track? What if my daughter never weans? What if she inherits her father's hair? I simply take a few deep breaths and detach myself from the feeling of being overwhelmed.

If I have to listen to a YouTube meditation session then so be it. I observe those questions, the feeling of anxiety they produce and simply watch them go by without attaching myself to them.

I simply tell myself, I am not that anxiety. I researched mindfulness and practiced it. It helped me get through the rough spots without medication.

12. I involve my baby in the things I love to do

For example, I take my baby out to the garden and we look at the plants together. I point out certain flowers. Sometimes I bring her into the kitchen with me when I'm making dinner and I turn on the radio.

She loves it when I pretend I'm on stage, holding a mic, singing along to the songs and dancing all over the place. It's great fun. Of course, the kitchen floor that I have to clean up afterwards because she pulled every conceivable food item from the pantry drawers is not so much fun.

13. I reach out to other mothers WITHOUT comparing myself to them

Each of us is on our own personal journeys, and each of us has to deal with our own challenges in our own unique ways. So it helped to share war stories, learn from other mothers without comparison or competition.

I used to look at other mothers with mild envy and wonder how they look so put together. But then I realized that they must be going through their own struggles. I'm just not privy to it.

I realized that this is not a race, a sprint or a marathon and I won’t get a prize at the end of it. I just had to do the best I could. Who’s to say that other mothers weren’t looking at me and wondering how I do it all? After all, it’s all about perspective.

14. It’s okay to make some baby-free time for myself

I got into the habit of waking up extra early in the mornings, making myself a cup of coffee and spending a few quiet moments in my patio garden.

Sometimes I write in my journal, sometimes I flip through Pinterest for inspiration for a project I want to start working on (although I try to keep this time as technology-free as possible), sometimes I just sit and sort through my thoughts.

I try to go out with friends, or have a spa day (admittedly this happens once a year), or go for a manicure/pedicure. I’ve noticed that I always come back missing and loving my baby more, once I've had some "me" time.

15. I’m exploring things I never thought I could do

This has been one of those joyful, hopeful and completely unexpected side effects of motherhood. Becoming a mother suddenly triggered passions and ambitions I never knew I had.

Once I became a mother and my time was no longer my own I suddenly wanted to do everything. Or at least try. So I did, slowly and randomly here and there.

I stopped regretting all the time I wasted in my youth and started better utilizing the time I still have. I started writing more, I even started drawing and exploring my creative side. I’ve learned there is always something you can do, so do it.

16. I’ve decided that my dreams still matter and I won’t let go of them

I struggled a lot with this in the beginning. I used to think: I'll never have time to do anything else in my life. This is it. I peaked. It's all downhill from here. I got caught in that quagmire. I let people tell me that I have to put aside my dreams, if only temporarily.

So what did I do, eventually?

I started dreaming again and striving and aspiring for things. I’m not delusional, though. It will be harder, no doubt, with kids, but still possible. My baby will turn two soon, go to nursery school and sleep through the night. And just like that, I will have more time.

I will use it wisely. There's still a lot I want to achieve. It may not happen right now, or ever, but I have no regrets about dreams. Even if I never achieve some of them, I'm glad I had them.

What I will regret is allowing people to make the decision for me or convincing myself to stop trying.

17. My husband is in this, too

Bless their souls, even when they fumble, our husbands have the best of intentions. So I made time for my marriage. Once I factored my husband into the equation, I started feeling like we were a family, a unit onto ourselves, rather than survivors trying to make it through a war. I appreciated him more as a husband and a father and felt grateful for him. He became my rock once again.

18. I’m no longer sweating the small stuff

If I was a perfectionist before I became a mother, well let me tell you, motherhood was one rude awakening. Motherhood taught me that I won't get everything right all the time. So I decided to stop trying and enjoy the chaos. It saved my sanity.

19. Turn off the TV, and let my baby entertain herself

I witnessed the miracle of my daughter’s mind developing before my eyes. But somewhere along the way, I started keeping the TV on almost all day, until a child psychologist told me nothing could be more detrimental to my baby's development. As soon as I turned of the screen, I did notice a marked difference in her behavior. She started exploring things around the house, touching objects to get a feel for their texture. It was actually quite entertaining to watch—much more so than mindless TV.

20. Having more kids is my decision—alone

No one, no matter how close they may be to me, no one has the right to weigh in or try to manipulate what should be a very personal decision. I’ve realized that the people who are telling me that it's time I was working on baby number two are the ones who will conveniently disappear when I need their help and support the most.

This is my life, my body, my family. No one knows better than me or my husband our circumstances or the plans we have.

And there it is. I've learned a lot more than this, but those were the top 20 things I've pondered for the past couple of years or so. They're specific to my experience as a mother, but hopefully they will serve as words of encouragement and support to other mothers out there.

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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.

Our Partners

When you're a mama on the move, safe car seats are a necessity but can be a budget buster, especially if you're looking to upgrade or have to furnish multiple cars. Luckily, Target is here to fix that.

Target is bringing back their popular car seat trade-in program from Tuesday, September 3 – Friday, September 13.

Just bring your old car seat to the recycling bin near Guest Services and a Target team member will give you a coupon for 20% off a new a new car seat, booster seat, car seat base, travel system or stroller. And the coupon can also be applied to select baby gear, such as high chairs, swings, rockers and bouncers. 👏

The coupon is eligible through Saturday, Sept.14, 2019, so if you don't see the seat of your dreams in store when you drop off your old one, you'll want to check out the online selection and act pretty fast.

With the exception of the small format stores, all Targets will be taking car seats between September 3 and 13. (You can find a participating store near you here.)

Target has held several of these car seat trade-in events since 2016 in an effort to help parents recycle the seats, which are not eligible for curbside recycling and take up a lot of space when sent to landfills. The retailer hands over all the old car seats to Waste Management, and the materials are recycled to make grocery carts, plastic buckets and construction materials like steel beams.

The event is really a win-win—we get to keep our kids safe while giving the car seats that protected them a second life. Just another reason to love Target.

[A version of this post was originally published April 18, 2018. It has been updated.]

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News

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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Life

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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Work + Money

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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