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I recently came across a meme on Facebook that struck at the heart of the parenting challenge I face with my three kids.

I can't describe it any better, so I'll just show it to you:

This. 👆

So much this.

I, at times, can be that double-talking parent who wants creative, independent kids who also do exactly what I say exactly when I say it.

Yet I have learned this truth as well: Most of the things I find frustrating and exhausting in parenting my children are the result of characteristics that will serve my children well in life.

I do want my children to grow up to be assertive, independent and strong-willed.

Being assertive will help my children stand up for themselves, and others, even when it's more convenient to stay quiet.

Being independent will help my children to make moral, difficult choices, even when the crowd goes another way.

Being strong-willed will help my children to fight through challenges in life, even when the urge to give up becomes overpowering.

Raising assertive and independent kids doesn't mean children "run" our house. We know that children aren't fully capable of making decisions for themselves, and that they need boundaries set by loving parents and caregivers in order to blossom. Hitting, screaming, breaking house rules—they're all never okay.

But all of that grey area? It's complicated. I want my children to be independent and capable, but sometimes I just want them to do what I say—and to do it quickly.

I want them to wear the adorable outfits that I buy them—and not choose to wear mismatched clothes—backwards.

I want them to play in a organized way—and not create messes we all have to clean up later.

I want them to listen to what I say the first time—and not make me repeat myself over and over again.

I want them to put their pants and shoes on and meet me at the front door—so we won't be late for school. Again.

But all of those wants? They're all about me.

Because when they're choosing their own outfits, they're confidently showcasing their unique personalities.

And when they're building robots out of 4,000 strips of duct tape and a tube of glitter (😱), they're igniting their minds in ways that will help them invent the future.

And when they're ignoring me because they're engrossed in a book or a project or a daydream, they're creating worlds of their own that will serve them well in life.

And when they refuse to be ready on time, as frustrating as it is, they're learning (sometimes the hard way) the consequences of making mistakes when their teacher gently corrects them and reminds them of the importance of being on time.

So this is what I now know: If I want to raise assertive, independent and strong-willed adults, I have to get used to confident, opinionated children.

Parenting this way can be exhausting. It often feels like herding cats. To some, it might even look like chaos. I mean, sometimes it feels like chaos.

But I also know that chaos is a friend of creativity.

And that messiness is a sign of playfulness.

And that strong opinions are proof of budding confidence.

And that beneath that stubbornness is an indomitable determination.

So instead of trying to control my kids, our schedules and our home, I'm learning to nurture and stand alongside them. I'm learning to find ways to coach and guide, instead of yell, punish and confront. I'm learning to embrace their unique points of view and, in fact, to cultivate them. I'm trying to let go of pre-conceived notions of how my kids "should" look or act or be, and gaze on them with eyes of wonder for the unique creations that they are.

We might look a little strange at preschool drop off. (#backwardspants)

We might be a little bit louder than your average family.

We might do things a little differently.

We might look like we're doing it the hard way—and sometimes it is. I don't always want to gather consensus from a bunch of blueberry-stained pipsqueaks.

But I know that if I want my kids to grow up to have minds of their own as adults, I have to embrace the minds they have now.

If I want them to be courageous, moral adults, I have to let them wrestle with hard choices now.

If I want them to succeed as adults, I have to let them fail now.

If I want them to ever learn to show up on time, I have to let them experience the consequences of being late now.

None of this is a guarantee of "success," of course. And that's okay too. But I'm working hard to journey alongside my kids and the ever-changing society they're inheriting.

Look out world, here they come.

If we can ever get there on time.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

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

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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