Motherhood is tough, but good. As a mom who also writes about Millennial life, I have discovered three essential elements to help modern women embrace these changes, lessons that I pass along to new moms I know and meet along the way. Here are three things I've learned about how to make motherhood work today:

1. Embrace the good ways that you've changed, like getting smarter. Sure, college broadened my interests in various subjects, and helped me to grow in my chosen field of study. Being married has taught me how to live in-tune with another complex human being. But being a mom has helped me organize and problem-solve faster than I could before. When you have a little ball of chaos constantly threatening order you learn to identify the key factors, take variables into account and execute more quickly. It’s like I can divide how many hours of running errands by how many stops, and arrive to a perfect number of diapers, crackers and fruit snacks to put in my purse.


2. Find friends who love being a parent. I actually haven’t run into many people who don’t like being a parent, but I’m just sayin’ find the ones who really enjoy it. I talked with a couple I ran into in Santa Monica a while ago with two sons. One parent said to me “It’s just awesome, isn’t it? We love it.” I paused for a second, sort of surprised by the spontaneous candor, and replied “Yea, it really is, actually.” It made me feel good to see other parents taking their parenting experience seriously, and also enjoying it. I also have a couple friends I hang out with often who have kids around my sons age. The more you see other parents enjoying the ride, and sharing the bumps along the way, the more you’re able to enjoy it as well. Plus, your kid will make friends too, and there is nothing cuter than your little kid’s “buddies.”

3. Still be you. Having a kid will change your life. It will change the amount you have of the following: time, emotional energy, physical energy, money, to name a few. Before you’re a parent you fear an identity crisis, but really it’s not the end of the world (or you), just time to re-route. For many moms and dads, there is a fear that you might just not be the “parenting type”. . . whatever that is.
If you’re a creative type you might be scared that your inspiration will suffer from lack of time or too much regimented living (which is required when you have a kid). Find inspiration from your kid. Sure you have to have a bedtime routine, but you also have a crazy uninhibited little muse on your hands now. Who knows what they’ll do!

If you’re a planner plan plan plan to the smallest detail in order to get a good grasp on the parenting thing. Having a kid is chaotic but it doesn’t mean you can’t give up a sense of functionality. In fact, kids thrive on structure. Even if they are constantly trying to prove otherwise by coloring with your lipstick all over the couch.

If you’re a creature of comfort
find ways to help your kids get energy out as you recharge your natural zen state. They may need to climb up and go down a slide 80 times, but at the end of the day you’re the one to hold them as they go to sleep. Gentleness and patience are totally underrated parenting qualities.

If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, or are an adrenaline-junkie you may find in your kids the only people in your life that have the same level of energy that you do. Of course you can’t go skydiving or extreme rock-climbing with them, but they may surprise you with the level of ridiculousness they naturally possess. Just make sure to get the basics down of child-raising: food, diaper changes, doctor appointments, bed time and bath time. And, of course, make sure the kids are safe at all times.

I know “2.5 kids” is included in the American Dream, and it’s not for everyone. But I hope that Millennials won’t gloss over the having kids part of the dream over fear of what they might lose. You gain so much more. It’s just awesome, actually.

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

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