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The mental load of motherhood was very real this year

2018 is our year, mamas. 2018 looks beautiful—so shiny and bright—full of promise and hope.

The mental load of motherhood was very real this year

Some days are hard.

They're hard like—cry yourself to sleep, not knowing if you're doing anything right hard. They're get in your car and take a long drive to clear your head hard. They're remind yourself to turn the news off and take deep breaths hard.

Some years are hard—and not just because they involve seasons of hectic schedules that come with having little kids. They're hard because the news is sad. They're hard because the world can be unjust. They're hard because there's a lot of ugliness in the world.

This year was hard for a lot of people. There's been fighting, tension and hatred.

And I'm tired.

As Huffington Post Women so perfectly said, “All the women in me are tired."


The mother. The wife. The daughter. The sister. The friend. The feminist. The house manager. The driver. The planner. The errand runner. The writer. The school volunteer. The memory maker. The worrier.

Every one of the hats I wear are worn out.

The mom in me needs a break. She's touched out. She stays up too late. She hears too much noise. She's always needed. Always doing. She's worried she can't handle every day like this. She wonders if she's doing enough.

The wife in me needs connection. She wants time alone with her husband. She wants to have a conversation with him without being interrupted. She wants a date night. She wants to put on a beautiful dress and feel good about her body.

The house manager in me needs help. She's always picking up. Putting away. Cleaning up. Making dinners. Washing. Folding. Finding. Making lists. Attempting to balance.

I took a long drive tonight with music blasting. This is my zen. This is my place.

When I'm driving by myself, with the loud notes of my favorite musicians, I feel like I can drive forever. So tonight, as I was cruising around, I wondered what it would be like—to just keep driving. To drive away from all the hard.

And then I made myself cry.

I cried because I felt guilty about even thinking about driving away from my family, my life, my hardships.

I cried because if I drove off I wouldn't feel the biggest hug from my husband when I got home. The sound of his voice asking if I felt calmer, better now—after my drive. The sweet kiss on my head after he told me he loved me.

I cried because if I drove off I wouldn't have come home to my babies. I wouldn't hear my oldest daughter sneak out of her bedroom to say, "See ya later, alligator!" Or my middle daughter cry for a hug from mama. Or my newborn's tiny coos and little snores.

I cried because if I drove off, I'd miss the magic that is having these children in my life. Their big hearts, their smiles that light up the room, their wild imaginations, their chubby little toddler fingers, their dance party requests, their ability to make me feel like I'm actually doing three things very very right—raising three beautiful daughters.

I cried because if I drove away from the hard in life, if I pretended it wasn't happening around me—I would feel like a coward. A coward unable to stand up for what's right. A coward unable to fight against the unjust. A coward unable to speak up for those who can't.

I cried because I am privileged to live this life—of a mother. A wife. A friend. A daughter. A sister. A friend. A feminist. A house manager. A driver. A planner. An errand runner. A writer. A school volunteer. A memory maker.

I cried because I'd never drive off. I would never even want to do that.

I cried because, well, life is complicated. Motherhood is complicated. The world is complicated.

But mostly I cried because no matter how much I love my family and my life—the good days and the bad—I sometimes let the bad overshadow the good that's around me. And I can't.

I can't take this beautiful life for granted.

So, I will keep on keepin' on.

This is our year, mamas. It's full of promise and hope.

I'm going to continue to love on my babies. Attempt to tame their tantrums, attempt to teach them compassion and kindness, attempt to get them to their activities on time and help them make new friends.

I'm going to continue to ask for help and for grace from those in my life.

I'm going to continue fighting the good fight—speaking up, speaking out, speaking my truth.

Because we only get one chance at this, mamas. And we have to be brave.


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These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com 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.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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