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What saved me in the early stages of having 4 children under 4

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After having two babies 18 months apart, my husband and I decided to try for our third—and intended final—biological baby. Growing our family with children close together in age made sense for us, and we figured we’d just continue to march through diapers and sleepless nights.


After a longer-than-normal first ultrasound at 12 weeks, the sonographer said, “Here’s your baby...and here’s your other baby!”

While my husband was over the moon, I sank into the chair. If it were my first pregnancy, I would have been over the moon right alongside my husband. But this wasn’t my first rodeo, and I knew how hard just ONE baby was.

How on earth would we survive having four little humans so close together? Would I ever sleep again? How could we pay for childcare? Orthodontia? College? I was panicking.

When my oldest was 3 years and 3 months old, and my second was 19 months old, I gave birth to two beautiful little girls. The girls are now 19 months old themselves, and while many days I still feel like I’m only just figuring it out, I’d like to think I have learned a thing or two about raising a gaggle of small children.

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These five things have saved me:

1. Making my mental health a priority

I do a nine minute meditation every morning (or at least I try to, often with multiple interruptions!). For me, a formula of a three minute devotional, three minutes reflecting on things I’m thankful for and three minutes setting intentions for my day works best. I almost always see a shift in my attitude and response to the chaos that inevitably will come my way when I have taken a few short minutes to prepare for the day.

On really tough days, I do another round in the afternoon!

2. Figuring out my “job description”

Every mother has her own priorities that reflect their personality and family. When our twins were born, my “job description” included keeping two tiny babies alive and filling the love tanks of our two older kiddos, who were 2 and 3 at the time. That took between 16-20 hours of my day.

Equally important were the things not on my list: dishes, vacuuming, folding laundry, and much more. I’m a pretty tidy person, so letting go of what wasn’t in my new “job description” was tough, but I knew it was only for a season. Setting and protecting your priorities will keep you sane. Trust me.

3. Get help. Get more help. Then get even more help.

As a mother, the only way you can take care of your family is to take care of yourself.

If you can identify what you need, you can ask for it. And the people who love you will help you get it. So take a deep breath, and think about what you need.

For me, with four-under-four, I needed help with childcare—and sometimes, to actually feel like I was getting a break, I asked for the help of more than one other adult. But I felt like I could use help beyond that, too.

Remember the vacuuming, dishes and laundry that weren’t in my job description anymore? They still needed to get done, but instead of always doing them myself—I found other people to help with them.

I've actually come to realize that, for me, household help is more important to me than childcare. It's pretty frustrating to hire a babysitter, then find yourself or your partner in the kitchen making dinner (or even worse, cleaning up from dinner) while someone else plays with your children in the living room or reads them a bedtime story, or just watches them play while they're playing independently.

We want to be the ones playing or reading, not scrubbing dishes. So we flipped the script. Ask—or if it’s in your budget, maybe pay—someone to help with cooking and cleaning and laundry so you can use your sparse moments to just be with your kids.

If you have family or friends who can chip in, be very explicit about when you want them to come and what you want them to do. If you’re hiring people to help, be very specific about what you’d like them to do.

I went so far as to put a list on the fridge of things that needed to get done, and when someone said something like, "I want to help you but I'm just not sure how" I would say, "Check the list," and they’d find something they could do. They were happy to help, and I was happy to receive the help. Win-win!

Bonus: If you can “Marie Kondo” your place by getting rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy or isn’t absolutely essential. (I found Motherly’s 48-hour decluttering course to be a great place to start!)

4. Give yourself space—and grace

I know (as in, experienced it this morning) that with multiple small children, all your patience and kindness can be zapped by 5 a.m., and then you're still supposed to be a functioning parent and member of society for the rest of the day. It can be crazy overwhelming.

For me, ‘space’ came through going back to work three days a week. Working gave me professional challenges, a definite reason to shower, a place to go where I could pump and additional income. Work refreshes me from my children, and my children refresh me from work.

Give yourself grace with the choices you make, too.

Your days will be filled with endless decisions to make—from how to feed your babies to how to get them to sleep to what you should do for childcare. Big or small, making these types of decisions is hard! You have to parent with your brain, with your emotional intelligence and with your intuition and instincts. Not everything has to be a big deal, but if something is a big deal to you, make sure your decisions line up with your conscience—regardless of what anyone else says.

5. Stay realistic

Your social life usually changes a bit when you have children—for some it’s more drastic than others. For the first year with four-under-four, we didn’t go anywhere as a family of six beyond occasionally (very occasionally) the arboretum or church. We’d trade off with the kids, but didn’t do fun family outings all together for a while.

I had to remind myself that we have years of adventures ahead with my crew and it was okay to stay home during this time in our lives when naps are so crucial and getting out the door feels like a marathon.

Believe or not, I’m regularly struck by how much joy fills our lives and I am truly loving this season with four young kids. It sure can be hectic, but it’s so incredibly beautiful, too.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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If you looked at the recently released list of top baby names from the Social Security Administration and thought, Those aren't popular around here, you're probably right.

While Emma and Liam are the top baby names for the entire country, when we break it down by state, the lists change.

For example, the third most common boys' name in California—Sebastian—is ranked 18 nationally, and Lucy gets the spot 51 overall, but is the fifth most common girls' name in Utah.

Skylar is in the top 5 in Mississippi but way down in the fifties nationally, and Easton is super popular in North Dakota, but is ranked 66th across the country,

Is your name pick in the top five for your state? Check out this list Motherly pulled from SSA data.

Here are the top five baby names for every state in America:

Alabama:

William, James, John, Elijah, Noah

Ava, Olivia, Harper Emma, Amelia

Alaska

Oliver, Logan, Liam, Benjamin, Michael

Aurora, Amelia, Charlotte, Olivia, Sophia

Arizona

Liam, Noah, Sebastian, Benjamin, Oliver

Emma Olivia, Mia, Isabella, Sophia

Arkansas

Noah, Elijah, William, Liam, Oliver

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Harper

California

Noah, Liam, Sebastian, Mateo, Ethan

Emma, Mia, Olivia, Isabella, Sophia

Colorado

Liam, Oliver, William, Noah, Benjamin

Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Evelyn, Isabella

Connecticut

Noah, Liam, Benjamin, Logan, Lucas

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Olivia, Emma, Isabella, Charlotte, Ava

Delaware

Liam, Noah, Mason, Logan, James

Ava, Isabella, Charlotte, Olivia, Sophia

District of Columbia

William, James, Henry, Alexander, Benjamin

Ava, Olivia, Elizabeth. Emma, Charlotte

Florida

Liam, Noah, Lucas, Elijah, Logan

Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Mia

Georgia

William, Noah, Liam, Elijah, James

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Isabella

Hawaii

Liam, Noah, Elijah, Logan, Ethan

Emma, Isabella, Aria, Mila, Olivia

Idaho

Liam, Oliver, Henry, William, James

Olivia, Emma, Evelyn, Harper, Charlotte

Illinois

Noah, Liam, Oliver, Benjamin, Alexander

Olivia, Emma, Ava, Isabella, Sophia

Indiana

Oliver, Liam, Noah, Elijah, William

Emma, Olivia, Amelia, Charlotte Ava

Iowa

Oliver, Liam, Henry, William, Owen

Harper, Evelyn, Emma, Charlotte, Olivia

Kansas

Liam, Oliver, Henry, William, Mason

Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Evelyn, Ava

Kentucky

William, Liam, Elijah, Noah, Grayson

Emma, Olivia, Ava, Harper, Amelia

Louisiana

Noah, Liam, Elijah, James, William

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Harper

Maine

Oliver, Liam, Owen, Wyatt, Henry

Charlotte, Amelia, Emma, Harper, Olivia

Maryland

Liam, Noah, William, Dylan, Ethan

Ava, Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Sophia

Massachusettes

Benjamin, Liam, James, Lucas, Wiliam

Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Sophia, Isabella

Michigan

Noah, Oliver, Liam, Benjamin, William

Olivia, Ava, Emma, Charlotte, Amelia

Minnesota

Henry, Oliver, William. Liam, Theodore

Evelyn, Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Harper

Mississippi

John, William, Noah, Elijah, James

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Skylar

Missouri

Liam, Oliver, William, Henry, Noah

Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Harper, Ava

Montana

Liam, William, Noah, Oliver, Henry

Harper, Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Abigail

Nebraska

Liam, Henry, Oliver, William, Jack

Olivia, Emma, Evelyn, Charlotte, Harper

Nevada

Liam, Noah, Sebastian, Elijah, Daniel

Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Sophia, Ava

New Hampshire

Oliver, Jackson, Mason, Liam, Henry

Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Ava, Amelia

New Jersey

Liam, Noah, Jacob, Michael, Matthew

Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Mia, Ava

New Mexico

Noah, Liam, Elijah, Mateo, Logan

Isabella, Sophia, Mia, Emma, Olivia

New York

Liam, Noah, Jacob, Lucas, Ethan

Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Sophia, Mia

North Carolina

Noah, William, Liam, James, Elijah

Ava, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Harper

North Dakota

Oliver, Henry, Owen, Hudson, Easton

Olivia, Emma, Harper, Charlotte, Amelia

Ohio

Liam, Noah, William, Oliver, Owen

Ava, Emma, Olivia, Amelia, Harper

Oklahoma

Liam, Noah, William, Oliver, Elijah

Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Harper

Oregon

Oliver, William, Benjamin, Henry, Liam

Emma, Olivia, Evelyn, Charlotte, Amelia

Pennsylvania

Liam, Noah, Benjamin, Mason, Michael

Emma, Olivia, Ava, Charlotte, Sophia

Rhode Island

Liam, Noah, Benjamin, Alexander, Oliver

Amelia, Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Mia

South Carolina

William, James, Noah, Elijah, Liam, Mason

Ava, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Harper

South Dakota

Grayson, Henry, Liam, Owen, Oliver

Harper, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Ava

Tennessee

William, James, Liam, Noah, Elijah

Emma, Ava, Olivia, Harper, Amelia

Texas

Liam, Noah, Sebastian, Mateo, Elijah

Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Mia, Sophia

Utah

Oliver, William, Liam, James, Henry

Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Evelyn, Lucy

Vermont

Oliver, Liam, Owen, Levi, Benjamin

Harper, Charlotte, Evelyn, Emma, Nora

Virginia

William, Liam, Noah, James, Alexander

Ava, Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Sophia

Washington

Liam, Oliver, William, Noah, Henry

Olivia, Emma, Evelyn, Amelia, Charlotte

West Virginia

Mason, Liam, Elijah, Grayson, Owen,

Emma, Olivia, Ava, Harper, Amelia

Wisconsin

Oliver, Liam, Henry, William, Logan

Evelyn, Emma, Olivia, Harper, Charlotte

Wyoming

Oliver, Logan, Jackson, Lincoln, Wyatt

Amelia, Emma, Elizabeth, Harper, Olivia

[This post was originally published May 18, 2018. It has been updated.]

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    Alaska

    Olivia, Aurora, Isabella, Sophia

    James, Liam, Wyatt, William, Noah

    Arizona

    Emma, Isabella, Olivia, Mia, Sophia

    Liam, Noah, Sebastian, Alexander, Julian

    Arkansas

    Emma, Olivia, Ava, Harper, Isabella

    Elijah, William, Noah, Liam, Mason

    California

    Emma, Mia, Olivia, Sophia, Isabella

    Noah, Sebastian, Liam, Ethan, Matthew

    Colorado

    Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Evelyn, Isabella

    Liam, Oliver, William, Noah, Benjamin

    Connecticut 

    Olivia, Emma, Ava, Mia, Sophia

    Noah, Liam, Logan, Jacob, Michael

    Delaware

    Olivia, Ava, Charlotte, Isabella, Emma

    Logan, Noah, Liam, Mason, Michael

    District of Columbia 

    Ava, Olivia, Eleanor, Genesis, Elizabeth

    James, Henry, William, Noah, Jacob

    Florida

    Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava

    Liam, Noah, Lucas, Elijah, Matthew

    Georgia 

    Ava, Olivia, Emma, Isabella, Charlotte

    William, Noah, Mason, Elijah, James

    Hawaii

    Emma, Olivia, Aria, Ava, Chloe

    Liam, Noah, Mason, Elijah, Logan

    Idaho

    Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Evelyn, Harper

    Oliver, Liam, William, James, Mason

    Illinois

    Olivia, Emma, Ava, Sophia, Isabella

    Noah, Liam, Benjamin, Logan, Alexander

    Indiana

    Emma, Olivia, Amelia, Charlotte, Harper

    Oliver, Liam, Elijah, Noah, William

    Iowa

    Harper, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Evelyn

    Oliver, Liam, Henry, Lincoln, Wyatt

    Kansas

    Emma, Olivia, Ava, Harper, Evelyn

    Oliver, William, Liam, Jackson, Henry

    Kentucky

    Emma, Ava, Olivia, Harper, Isabella

    William, Elijah, Noah, Liam, James

    Louisiana

    Olivia, Ava, Emma, Amelia, Harper

    Liam, Noah, Mason, Elijah, William

    Maine

    Charlotte, Olivia, Emma, Harper, Amelia

    Oliver, Lincoln, Liam, Owen, Wyatt

    Maryland

    Ava, Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Charlotte

    Liam, Noah, James, Logan, Jacob

    Massachusetts

    Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Sophia, Isabella

    Benjamin, William, Liam, Lucas, Noah

    Michigan

    Emma, Ava, Olivia, Charlotte, Amelia

    Liam, Noah, Oliver, Lucas, Mason

    Minnesota 

    Olivia, Evelyn, Emma, Charlotte, Nora

    Oliver, William, Henry, Liam, Theodore

    Mississippi

    Ava, Emma, Olivia, Paisley, Amelia

    William, John, James, Mason, Elijah

    Missouri

    Olivia, Ava, Emma, Amelia, Harper

    William, Liam, Oliver, Noah, Elijah

    Montana

    Olivia, Emma, Harper, Ava, Charlotte

    James, William, Liam, Oliver, Wyatt

    Nebraska

    Emma, Olivia, Amelia, Charlotte, Evelyn

    Oliver, Liam, William, Henry, Noah

    Nevada 

    Emma, Mia, Isabella, Sophia, Olivia

    Liam, Noah, Elijah, Michael, Sebastian

    New Hampshire

    Charlotte, Evelyn, Emma, Olivia, Amelia

    Logan, Henry, Mason, Owen, Oliver

    New Jersey

    Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Mia, Sophia

    Liam, Noah, Matthew, Michael, Jacob

    New Mexico

    Mia, Sophia, Isabella, Olivia, Ava

    Noah, Santiago, Elijah, Liam, Daniel

    New York

    Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Mia, Ava

    Liam, Noah, Jacob, Lucas, Joseph

    North Carolina

    Ava, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Charlotte

    William, Noah, Liam, James, Mason

    North Dakota 

    Emma, Harper, Olivia, Amelia, Ava

    Oliver, Henry, Liam, Noah, William

    Ohio

    Emma, Ava, Olivia, Harper, Charlotte

    Liam, Carter, Noah, William, Lucas

    Oklahoma

    Emma, Olivia, Harper, Ava, Isabella

    William, Liam, Noah, Elijah, James

    Oregon

    Emma, Olivia. Sophia, Charlotte, Evelyn

    Oliver, Liam, Henry, Benjamin, William

    Pennsylvania 

    Emma, Olivia, Ava, Charlotte, Sophia

    Liam, Noah, Logan, Benjamin, Mason

    Rhode Island

    Charlotte, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Isabella

    Lucas, Liam, Noah, Julian, Mason

    South Carolina

    Ava, Emma, Olivia, Charlotte, Harper

    William, Noah, Mason, James, Liam

    South Dakota

    Emma, Olivia, Harper, Evelyn, Nora

    Oliver, Henry, Liam, Noah, William

    Tennessee

    Ava, Olivia, Emma, Amelia, Harper

    William, Elijah, James, Noah, Mason

    Texas

    Emma, Mia, Isabella, Sophia, Olivia

    Noah, Liam, Sebastian, Mateo, Elijah

    Utah

    Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Evelyn, Hazel

    Oliver, Liam, William, James, Benjamin

    Vermont

    Evelyn, Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Harper

    Wyatt, William, Oliver, Liam, Noah

    Virginia

    Olivia, Ava, Emma, Charlotte, Isabella

    Liam, William, Noah, James, Benjamin

    Washington

    Olivia, Emma, Evelyn, Ava, Isabella

    Liam, Oliver, Noah, William, Benjamin

    West Virginia

    Emma, Olivia, Harper, Paisley, Amelia

    Liam, Mason, Elijah, Grayson, Carter

    Wisconsin

    Emma, Olivia, Evelyn, Charlotte, Ava

    Henry, Oliver, Liam, William, Logan

    Wyoming

    Emma, Harper, Ava, Avery, Charlotte

    Liam, Wyatt, Carter, James, Logan

    News

    After quite a wait (he was born last week) Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have finally revealed their baby boy's name and it isn't what the internet was expecting.

    While Kim had previously hinted at the name Robert, after her late father and her brother, the couple went with a name that makes sense given Kanye's new Sunday Services.

    Baby number four for the Kardashian-Wests is called Psalm West, his mom announced via Instagram.

    Psalm is the fourth child for Kim and Kanye, who are already raising 5-year-old North, 3-year-old Saint and 1-year-old Chicago.

    Welcome to the family Psalm!

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    News
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