A few weekends ago, my husband and I decided to do our weekend grocery shopping trip together as a family—our “activity” for the day, if you will. So that meant my husband, me, our preschooler, our toddler and our newborn were going to tackle our list of apples and oranges, seltzer and coffee, hummus and almonds—together.


So there I was, strolling through the frozen foods section of Trader Joe’s, pushing our stroller with newborn Natalie in her seat, and big girls Maggie and Lucy standing on the kickstand attachment—and a woman pushing her daughter in a cart came up to me.

Now, side note, I’m shy. I’m not always a “people person,” not really one for small talk. So I panicked at first as she approached me—was she going to say something weird about how my children were behaving? Was she going to give me one of those awkward, “Looks like you have your hands full!” comments?

She didn’t. Instead, she gave me a gift.

She said, “I’m in awe of you. Look at you with these three children at the grocery store. You’re doing it. Keep it up, mama. God bless you all.”

I didn’t even know what to say. I was sort of shocked. I was so ready to play defense, I hardly even gave her the chance to give me the assist.

Well, let me tell you—there was a pep in my step the rest of the day, and my husband joked that now I’d never shop at another grocery store again. (Which is probably true–I mean, the whole experience was very pleasant.)

So the gift this angel woman gave me was not just a super nice compliment. She gave me perspective. A new way to look at myself. I realized that the timing of this compliment from the angel woman was no coincidence—we had just recently welcomed baby number three into our family and while it can all be a lot to handle, it has also proven to me that I really am a strong, capable, confident mother.

It’s finally starting to sink in now that I’ve welcomed my third child into my life.

I don’t have to “fake it till I make it” (one of my favorite life mottos) anymore. I’ve made it. Despite the hardships, exhaustion, worry and frustration motherhood can bring, I feel comfortable in my role as a mother. I feel confident in what I’m doing.

I’m finding that I’m second guessing myself less.

I’m finding that I’m doubting myself less.

I’m finding that I’m beating myself up less.

This mom-of-three life is no joke. It has helped me cut through the negative and finally just believe in myself. With baby number three I can finally say, with confidence: I have a really good idea of what I’m doing. And I may not always do it ‘right’ or ‘perfect,’ but I know how to make sound decisions for my children and I know how to put my family’s needs first. I know how to be their mom.

It’s been a breath of fresh air.

There have been other revelations I’ve had since going from two to three children.

Like how my oldest somehow now looks like she’s about to turn 25, when she’s really only about to turn four.

Like how I’ve been craving individual time with each child more and more, and trying to figure out a way to squeeze that into our busy days.

Like how I’m thoroughly enjoying having a newborn around again, especially with this newfound confidence and calm. Dare I say, I feel a little more relaxed as a parent now. (Which is not exactly what I thought would happen.)

Like how it takes us roughly two hours to prepare to leave the house and then roughly one hour to actually get in the car to get where we’re going.

Like how I’m now completely used to someone either being in the shower with me every time I try to shower, someone crawling or sitting on me every time I plop down to relax, or someone always sneaking in my bed taking up about 95% of my spot.

Like how there’s always someone around to give me a hug or make me laugh or be inspired by. There’s always someone around to cuddle with, talk with and remind me how lucky I am.

All my life I’ve wanted to be more confident. Finally, I have that gift. And as it turns out, it’s my children who have given it to me. ?

Having a newborn is challenging at the best of times, but during forced isolation and in a climate of fear and uncertainty, it can become overwhelming.

The coronavirus pandemic is setting up our communities for genuine mental health concerns. This may be especially true for new parents. When will 'normal' life return? How will I pay for diapers and baby food? Will my mom be able to help us now? What if my baby or my family get COVID-19? Unfortunately, no one knows the long-term impact or answers just yet.

Most families have built a network of social support by the time they have their first child—if they don't already have a support system, they develop one through various baby classes and groups set up for parents. The creation of the village can be instrumental to the mental health of new parents. Social distancing, the lockdown of cities, and isolation will inadvertently affect the type of support available.

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Raising a mentally strong kid doesn't mean he won't cry when he's sad or that he won't fail sometimes. Mental strength won't make your child immune to hardship—but it also won't cause him to suppress his emotions.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. Mental strength is what helps kids bounce back from setbacks. It gives them the strength to keep going, even when they're plagued with self-doubt. A strong mental muscle is the key to helping kids reach their greatest potential in life.

But raising a mentally strong kid requires parents to avoid the common yet unhealthy parenting practices that rob kids of mental strength. In my book, 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do, I identify 13 things to avoid if you want to raise a mentally strong kid equipped to tackle life's toughest challenges:

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