To the military mamas, your service isn’t invisible—I see you

I do not wear a uniform. My children do not wear a uniform. But I simply want people know that we are here.

To the military mamas, your service isn’t invisible—I see you

I am a brave woman, raised by an even braver woman. She is the perfect example of independence, strength, and love. Her bravery has overcome insurmountable obstacles many will never have to see. She was the buffer to the bad and put a smile on the truth. My mom carried the weight of the world, of our world, on her shoulders.

My mom was a military spouse. And now, here I am...a military spouse, too.

In America, I often see a continual flow of support for our military. From donations, to ribbons, to campaigns, social media, all of it. There seems to be a constant support for those who protect our freedoms. There seems to be a continual recognition of the brave sacrifices made by the men and women in uniform. I see that support. I appreciate that support. I hear the kind and grateful words, and I know people mean so well.

You see our partners. You see their uniforms. You see their sacrifice. You see them and thank them and recognize that they are contributing to society in a monumental way. Because they are—they really are.

Their uniform shows you their unwavering dedication to our country. Their uniform shows you that they are willing to sacrifice themselves, their families, their safety...all in the name of service. I have seen that uniform my entire life. I am forever grateful for that uniform and all that it represents.

Yet, there is still something discouraging in this for me. I do not wear a uniform. My children do not wear a uniform. But I simply want people know that we are here. We are a military family.

I am the one holding down the fort at home. I am paying the bills, raising the kids, running in circles and single-handedly keeping this family afloat. I am the one holding the crying kids and I am the one trying to establish the new normal. I often feel very alone. I am without a village, without family around, without my spouse a lot of the time.

I know that people often have no idea of the burden that I carry. I realize they cannot see the days that never end and our family's missing piece.

I know at first glance this does not look like much—my service is often invisible. A grocery shopping mom with two kids. A crying newborn in her cart. My postpartum body. My hair, a half-done messy bun. My eyes, these dark circles. I used to think this did not look like much either, but now I know.

To all of the other military mamas out there, please know that I see you. I understand.

I see your spirits breaking, yet I see your amazing strength.

I see you when you are discouraged because you are one parent trying to do the role of two.

I see you when you need encouragement, but your best friend just moved away.

I see you staying positive, even when everything is going wrong.

I see you juggling the baby, the bedtimes, and everything in between.

I see you giving all of yourself to everyone and feeling like you're not getting much in return.

And I understand that sometimes that makes you feel like you aren't enough. Like you're barely hanging on and you're doing so much, that you don't feel like you're doing anything right. But I want to tell you, mama—you are doing it.

I know that even as that messy looking mom, that trying to keep it together mom, I am enough. I was enough for that chaotic day. I am everything to my kids every day.

My boat sometimes feels like it's sinking and my world can often feel like it's spinning too fast. I was carrying the burden of being everything to everyone, and it made me feel like I was bending and breaking—and even then, I was still enough.

No matter the trial and no matter the struggle, I now know, that I will ALWAYS be enough.

And please know that you are enough, too. All moms are. We will always be enough for our children.

We are a military family. I am a military spouse. Our days are long. Our months seem to last forever. We are often alone. We are often breaking. While I wish my husband was home with us—we are making it work.

I want you to know that I am not here asking to be seen, nor am I asking to be thanked. I am simply writing this to share, to let people know that those incredibly brave soldiers are often supported by some incredibly brave people back home.

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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. 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.

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

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11 products to help parents survive the 4-month sleep regression 😴

So you—and baby—can start getting more rest.

Ah, the 4-month sleep regression...unlike, say, your baby's first solid food or her first steps, the 4-month sleep regression isn't a milestone that many parents typically look forward to. Whether you're currently in the midst of the madness or just anticipating what might be ahead, odds are you have some questions—and some worries—about this much talked-about sleep (or lack thereof) phase.

But guess what, mama? The news is good! According to experts, sleep regressions aren't really a thing; they're more like transitions. And they're actually a good thing—they mean your baby is growing, changing, developing, + finding new ways to interact with the world around them.

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