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To my sister who had kids before me: I'm sorry I didn't get it

Now that I'm thinking back on it, I really had no clue about these 10 things.

To my sister who had kids before me: I'm sorry I didn't get it

My sister Meg had kids first. She had two before I even had one. I was next and I had three before my next sister had one.

When Meg was the only one with kids, none of us got it (we have two other siblings, too). We were just going about living our lives, going out with our friends, taking trips—doing whatever we wanted—as my sister and brother-in-law were navigating the waters of new parenthood.

I remember I was on a girl's weekend yucking it up in NYC the weekend my nephew was born. I was prepared to head back up to Massachusetts if he made his debut, but he didn't show up until a few days later. So there in the early September heat, I was traipsing around Manhattan with my college friends while my sister inched toward contractions and birthing her baby boy.

I didn't get it AT ALL. Like, not even close. I did not get it until I was on all fours in the hospital trying to relieve the pressure of back labor as I breathed (winced?) through each contraction of my own.

Now that I'm thinking back on it, I really had no clue about these 10 things:

1. How absolutely amazing, but definitely grueling pregnancy can be

I did not realize how many checkup appointments you have to go to. I did not realize how heavy a baby could actually feel inside you. I did not know the lower back pain, the sleepless nights spent wishing you could sleep on your stomach, the hormonal migraines, the first-trimester hit-by-a-bus exhaustion, the heartburn, the swelling….. The list could go on and on.

And I definitely could not comprehend how incredible it is to feel your baby kick inside of you. Or to hear your baby's heartbeat for the first time. Or to find out the sex of your baby. Or how close pregnancy can make you and your partner feel. Or how awesome it would be to not worry about any extra softness in your stomach area because of that gorgeous baby bump.

2. How life-changing the transformation to ‘mother’ is

My sister went through this complete shift in her identity—right in front of me, without me having hardly a clue. She was learning how to be a mom as I was popping over to cuddle my nephew for a bit then heading out to meet friends for dinner or a movie.

I didn't know she was basically experiencing an identity crisis—and who knows, maybe she didn't even know that at the time either—until I experienced my own shortly after becoming a mother.

I could never know what that felt like. And I could never understand what the moment you come face-to-face with your child—that deep and immediate love—feels like, no matter how many times she described it to me.

3. How long “having a baby” actually can take

We arrived at the hospital a mere few hours after my sister got there and we waited there for hours! I am laughing thinking about it. I basically thought she'd get to the hospital, pop the baby out and be ready for visitors. It took a lot longer than I ever thought.

4. How different birth can go than what you picture

My sister had to be induced because her son was super cozy in her womb and didn't want to come out. Her birth went differently than she thought it would. I didn't know that was a thing. I just thought you gave birth how you wanted to—oblivious to all the complications or changes that could come along the way.

5. How tired a mother could actually be

"You're exhausted? Yeah me too, I was up till like 3 am watching TV." Okay, I hope I never actually said his to her, but… I probably did. I absolutely 100% did not know what true exhaustion meant no matter how many all-nighters I pulled in college, no matter how many times I stayed up late into the wee hours of the morning (by my own choice, mind you). I did not understand the physical exhaustion of feeding another human from my body at all hours of the day and night or the mental exhaustion of worrying and remembering and doing.

6. How much effort goes into breastfeeding

Again. This is something I thought you just did. That just clicked. That just happened. I had no idea there were any smoke and mirrors in the background, like lactation counselors, nipple shields, breast pumps, supplementing, different kinds of formula, donor milk, or gastronomy tubes. I was so clueless! Imagine my surprise when I started breastfeeding 2.5 years later…

7. How strategic road trips become

Our parents live on Long Island and my sister and I live in Massachusetts with our families. I never got why they couldn't just hop in the car to go visit my parents with us for a weekend on a whim.

I didn't know that babies might not like riding in the car or they may get sick of sitting in their car seat after four hours or how annoying going off-routine for the weekend could be, how painful skipping naps is, how tricky it is to get babies to sleep at night in a place other than their home. I definitely didn't even think about all the stuff you had to schlep back and forth.

8. How tricky it can be to have a baby at a wedding

When I got married, my nephew had just turned one a week prior. They were all in the wedding. In fact, my sister was the maid of honor. I didn't know how stressful it could be to try to align your baby's idea of a timeline for the day with the planned wedding timeline. No, honey, you can't eat right now—it's time to take pictures. No, baby, I can't rock you for your nap, it's time to get my hair done.

I actually didn't fully realize what that felt like until I was on a plane heading to Vegas for my sister's destination wedding with a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old many years later. #Goodtimes

9. How much support you need

I knew we all needed to be there for my sister. I knew she could use some help with holding my nephew as she got stuff done around the house. But I didn't think to put a load of laundry on while I was over or think to randomly bring her a meal so she didn't have to cook dinner.

I didn't get the importance of connecting with other moms and couldn't properly commiserate with her when she talked about how she wished she could find some mom friends. I didn't know motherhood could be lonely—not with a cute baby around all day, right?!

10. How long it takes to find yourself again

I thought perhaps becoming a mother meant that you finally became your true self. I didn't know that you needed time to reconnect with your core identity and revamp what is important to you, where your passions lie. I didn't know that "mother" wasn't just simply another hat to wear, like the "daughter" hat or "friend" hat. I didn't know she was embarking on this giant soul-searching adventure.

I now have three kids. I get it. In fact, I get it more and more each day I learn how to be a mom. I learn more with each new challenge, each new lesson and each new #momwin.

I think we'll all always be learning. And now? Now I not only have my older sister but I have one of my younger sisters learning alongside me too. And it has been an honor having them to walk with on this wild journey called motherhood.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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