I wrote a 'By the time I'm 40' list in my 20s—and it's time to start crossing things off

We all have one. The list. A list of dreams and goals that we hope to have accomplished by the time we are 40.

I wrote a 'By the time I'm 40' list in my 20s—and it's time to start crossing things off

We all have one. The list. A list of dreams and goals that we hope to have accomplished by the time we are 40. The list usually makes an appearance at some point in our early to mid-20s.

We may journal it, think it through, and tuck it away in the back of our minds, or perhaps write it down on a piece of paper, fold it up, and stow it away in a safe place. That's what I did. I can't tell you where that list is now but I can still go back into my mind, unfold that piece of paper, and read the words written on it as easily as if I was holding it in my hand. I can see my old handwriting and the neatness of youth and remember the feeling of having so much time. I can feel the passion and determination of year 21. The absolute certainty in my mind and the fire in my heart when I wrote it.

We choose to cross the items off of our list by age 40 because it's a safe age. To someone in their early 20s, 40 is far enough away that we are certain we will have enough time to accomplish our goals by then. I mean 40 is years and years away. Isn't it?

Then life goes on. The list sits in the back of our minds. Like a gentle whisper it quietly reminds us of its existence. But we are in our 20s and we have nothing but time so we silence the whispers. We will get there. We have time.

Suddenly 30 is upon us. The whispers become a bit louder. They tug at our sleeve, tap us on the shoulder. Remember us? Don't forget your list. But life gets real, in the gritty and unexpected way that life does.

You find yourself navigating stormy seas that the sunny blue skies of 21 could have never prepared you for. You learn what it means to choke back your emotions and do what must be done to get by. To pay the bills. To care for the children. To survive. You make sacrifices, and you take detours, and you tell yourself: One day I will get to the list. One day.

Then 35. Those whispers are now a wind, rustling leaves and shaking branches. And we pause. Oh yes, 35 is always a time for pause. We listen for a short while. Maybe as we blow the candles out on our cake. Or perhaps after an extra glass of wine lowers our defenses and allows those whispers to be heard. Detours have taken us so far away from the words of 21, but that's okay. We have time. But the leaves continue to rustle, and the branches creak.

We turn 39. Those winds become a tornado. They grab our thoughts, twisting and turning them and demanding attention. The list. What about the list?

At least, that's what happened to me. One month away from 39 and those whispers became a scream, demanding to know: If not now, when? Life becomes so very real in your 39th year. You have watched loved ones and friends lose battles with illness and lose their lives. Time becomes such a concrete thing. It's no longer something that you think you will have forever, but something on loan with an expiration date. Something so much more precious than you could've ever imagined before. And that list…

Don't get me wrong. I have crossed things off the list. I desperately wanted to be a mother and have a large family. Check and check. But what I haven't yet crossed off are the things that feed my soul and fill my heart with a different kind of fulfillment. Those 21-year-old passions may look different, but they don't change. Not really.

The trouble is life comes along, reads the list, and tells us (in the logical and matter-of-fact way that life talks) that the list is unrealistic. How can the dreams of a silly-hearted 21-year-old with stars in her eyes make any sense in the very real and harsh light of life?

Then we make the sacrifices and we take the detours because we have to. But that list is like a song from your youth. It plays over and over and over again, in the back of your mind. Just like true passions, they don't change, and they won't be ignored.

Suddenly I was facing the reality of 40 looming at the end of my 39th year, and that damned, persistent, familiar list was absolutely refusing to be ignored any longer. It consumed me. Because again, if not now, when? My 39th year. It was time.

I decided to pay my 21-year-old self a visit and take another look at that list. Two items jumped out of my memory and into the present:

1 | Become a writer. Write your book.

2 | Follow your dreams. Don't let this world make you forget who you are.

I had always written. Words were my sanctuary when I was filled with emotions that I couldn't express in any other way. But over the years I had stopped writing. Sometimes the emotions became too much for paper and often being a wife and a mom was so consuming that I simply didn't bother to write. I was suffering for it. I had forgotten that before I was a mom and a wife, I had been a writer. I realized that my list wasn't so much about accomplishing goals and dreams as it was remembering who I was.

So I wrote. The words flowed and my heart soared and I realized that I needed to remember who I was. I was missing that piece of myself that I had let go of over the years.

Revisit your list. Don't wait too long. You may have left some important pieces of yourself behind. Find them, and cross them off. Your list is waiting.

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For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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