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By Shelley Hopper


Ahhh, motherhood. Sweet, sweet motherhood. Behind the lack of sleep and momnesia, there’s so much beauty in everyday moments and memories.

It’s no secret our littles grow way too fast and suddenly turn into 2 and 3-year-olds who seem to be going on 13. Whether it’s getting through a new growth spurt, a new bedtime routine, beginning potty training, enrolling in preschool, or the little cherub who decided it’s a good idea to phase out of naps at 2-and-a-half-years-old…we get it.

The list of questions on how-do-I-survive-this-grow. We’ve been there. We feel for you. We support you. And the daily or weekly glass of wine or workout that gets you through the ups and downs.

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With that, here’s our round-up of how you know you’re a mama to a toddler, and the firecracker that they are.

1. You soon learn that Legos are your worst nightmare, and you fear stepping on one more than you fear stepping on a bee.

2. You’re lucky if you (ever) get anywhere on time, which is basically a half hour late according to the mom clock.

3. You traded designer handbags for grab-and-go-rough-and-tough durable bags back in the infant days, and make sure those mini suitcases are filled with wipes and snacks—at ALL times. Because Lord help you if you head out for errands and forget snacks for the hangry monster that will appear out of nowhere; even if they ate all their breakfast!

4. You basically do not own any white or nice item of clothing, because what’s the point? The risk of every and all kinds of stains will find their way right to you—smears of any kind have become a dangerous look to any wardrobe these days.

5. Speaking of stains—forget only packing a change of clothes for your mini. You probably keep a spare set of clothing (and if you don’t, you should) in your car since toddlers are basically little drunk people who are a liability to any outfit.

6. When you get in someone’s car who doesn’t have kids, you’re shocked at how clean it is. “Is this brand new? It looks so clean and smells so nice.” “No, Mama, it’s like four years old…..” Wait, what? Cars can look this clean when they’re not fresh off the lot? Mind. Blown.

7. You might think you’re the boss, but you’re not. Your toddler is the king or queen of your castle, and won’t let you forget it.

8. When your friends without kids spend the day with you, they’re home asleep by 5 pm or pouring a glass of wine beforehand, wondering how in the world you manage the chaos all day. Oh, those sweet little things and how innocent they are pre-parenting.

9. Is it bad to want noise-silencing headphones or dream of quiet, uninterrupted bathroom breaks, showers, or meals? No, most definitely not. What is silence? That’s a thing?

10. The toddler tornado is SO real. Or, also known as a category five hurricane that blows through with gusts up to 100 mph, with no predictable weather pattern. You feel it. Your house feels it. And your partner or family never fail to walk in the door during the eye of the storm and ask, “What have you been doing all day and why is the house so messy?!” The. Nerve.

11. You sing Hallelujah and say a prayer for your former favorite TV shows to Rest In Peace. Perhaps you'll remember to DVR them and manage to get through a series within a year. But they've most likely been replaced with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Princess Sophia, Blaze, or some other annoyingly lovable, quotable show on Disney Jr. or Nick Jr.

12. Your sanity and appearance will be questioned daily, and probably like 16293 times within a 12-hour span. But your heart has never been so full (or your hands). Good thing under-eye concealer and eye-brightening shadows can help mask three years of sleep deprivation.

13. Speaking of sleep…are there people who truly sleep for 8-10 hours uninterrupted and in peace without flailing limbs knocking them in the face or body parts throughout the night? Because let’s be real, you probably haven’t slept in or so solidly since college. The toddler who originally falls asleep so sweet and angelic magically seems to turn into an octopus-like creature with eight arms in the middle of the night. All of which end up on you or smacking you.

14. No small item is safe. They’re either trying to eat it or throw it at your face. You become a ninja overnight and have all-star catching abilities.

15. Is there such thing as a car ride where shoes stay on? As if you weren’t running late already, now you get to wrestle the little cat in your backseat and try to put their shoes back on (for the tenth time of the day).

16. You have to reheat your tea or coffee at least five times throughout the day because heaven forbid you get to finish a cup in one sitting. Do they make caffeine IVs yet? And you don’t even remember what eating a warm meal is like since you have to chop your mini’s meal up into little chunks before even considering sitting down in front of your plate.

17. You immediately panic when your kids are present, not napping, and there is silence. They very well may be coloring the walls, “painting” the dog, setting a new makeup trend by using all of yours, re-organizing your cabinets (that you just sorted), or jumping into the piles of your freshly washed and folded laundry. They say silence is golden, but that goes out the window in toddler land.

18. Little white lies sneak up on your tongue….that food you don’t want to share? “Sorry, buddy, it’s soooo spicy.” “Wayyyy too hot.” “You’re allergic.” #Shameless

19. You listened to your pediatrician and kept your little angel away from electronics until they were two years old. But now that they throw the most insane tantrums in the middle of grocery aisle number eight? “Hey, want to watch a show?” You have to stay home from work because they had to stay home from school? Cartoon marathon so you can get through emails. No judgment. Just understanding that sometimes a few minutes of peace are worth any cartoon in the world.

20. You realize how weird and downright wacky some bedtime stories are. What the heck were some of these authors on?! Of course, most are beautiful and full of warm and fuzzies, but some are more bizarre than you ever remember hearing when you were little. And there's no chance you're getting past bedtime before reading at least 5-10 books since toddlers all seem like they just downed a cup of coffee right before bedtime.

21. Things that would have completely and utterly disgusted you pre-parenthood have become your norm. They’re still awful, of course, but the thought of getting peed on or boogers flicked on you when you were in your 20s versus surviving infanthood and now toddlerhood, does the word gross even have meaning anymore?

22. Your house is no longer properly feng shuied or decorated with tasteful items on your coffee table. Magazines get shredded, vases get broken, and picture frames get chucked across the room. Because of that, there isn’t one thing that’s left under 3’ shelves. Except for dirty hand prints. And you immediately regret going over to friend's houses who don't have kids, because your little monster, ehem, angel, probably just destroyed all their most valuable, precious things.

23. You once dreaded going to the park in fear of awkwardly socializing with other moms, or being surrounded by little monsters you don’t know. But now, if you don’t make it to the park or a strenuous activity, you’re stuck with what feels like a rabid dog in a cage the rest of the day.

24. You question who on earth invented the mini potty-training toilets. Why do they come in ten pieces? Why are they so hard to clean? Why do boys pee on every inch of the bathroom EXCEPT in the potty? Why do toddlers take poops as big as grown men? We’ll never know….oh the bathroom mysteries.

25. Happy hour is no longer at 5 pm involving drinks with girlfriends. It’s more like happy 10 minutes; the interval between when your kids are finally asleep and before you pass out by 9 pm.

26. You follow a healthy lifestyle. Wine is made from fermented grapes, so it’s basically a fruit, and you're fully convinced it most definitely counts as a daily fruit serving.

27. You turn into superwoman when you’re running errands. Remember the days you used to poke in Target for an hour and enjoy yourself? Now you have the superpower of getting in and out within 20 minutes. BUT, that being said, you also sneak away to Target when you’re kidless and happily enjoy trying on clothes, getting a caramel latte, and buying $100 worth of things you don’t actually need.

28. People actually shut the door when they need to use the bathroom? Are peeping toms frowned upon? Cue Justin Bieber’s, What Do You Mean?

29. Speaking of Justin Bieber, when did he turn into an adult? Does that mean we’re old now? Wasn’t he our age? I’m so confused. And you’re confused who any modern pop star is. Because they’re like 12. And we’re like….shhh.

30. You have to buy wrinkle cream, under-eye lifting serums, and dye your gray hair. Hair starts to grow in weird places, skin begins to sag, and when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, you realize you’re slowly resembling your mom. Here’s to hoping she has good genes!

31. Your phone used to have like 20,000 photos of your newborn napping peacefully, accomplishing all their "firsts" and special milestones, crawling down the hallway, etc. Now, you're lucky if you snap one photo a week of your active toddler since you're too busy chasing after them and making sure your phone isn't being flushed down a toilet.

Originally posted on FIT4MOM.

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It's finally 2020. It's hard to believe but the old decade is over, the new one is here and it is bringing a lot of new life with it. The babies born this year are members of Generation Alpha and the world is waiting for them.

We're only a few days into the new year and there are already some new celebrity arrivals making headlines while making their new parents proud.

If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2020, they've got plenty of high profile company.

Here are all the celebrity babies born in 2020 (so far):

Ashley Graham is a mama! 🎉

A new chapter is unfolding for model and podcaster Ashley Graham, who just announced she and her husband Justin Ervin have met their baby.

The baby arrived Saturday, according to a post made on Graham's Instagram Stories.

"At 6:00pm on Saturday our lives changed for the better," reads the Story. "Thank you for all your love and support during this incredible time."

Graham previously announced that she and Ervin were expecting a son. They initially announced the pregnancy on their ninth wedding anniversary.

Congratulations to Ashley and Justin!

Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden just welcomed a baby girl! 🎉

Surprise! Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden are ringing in the New Year as first-time parents!

"Happy New Year from the Maddens!" reads a birth announcement posted to both Diaz and Madden's Instagram accounts. "We are so happy, blessed and grateful to begin this new decade by announcing the birth of our daughter, Raddix Madden. She has instantly captured our hearts and completed our family."

Raddix Madden is the first child for Diaz, 47, and Madden, 40.

The couple say they won't be posting any pictures of their daughter on social media as they "feel a strong instinct to protect our little one's privacy."

Congratulations to the Maddens! 🎉

Dylan Dreyer of 'Today' is a mom of 2! 

Today meteorologist Dylan Dreyer and her husband Brian Fichera, welcomed their second child, Oliver George Fichera, the first week of January 2020. Oliver joins his big brother Calvin to make the family a foursome.

Dreyer is still recovering from birth but her voice was on TV this week when she called into her show with an update on her new family. "I feel good," Dylan told her colleagues. "I just feel so happy and so blessed."

Caterina Scorsone of 'Grey's Anatomy' now has 3 girls!

Caterina Scorsone of Grey's Anatomy has so much to be thankful for in 2020: She's now a mom of three! The actress announced the birth of her daughter via Instagram, noting that her baby's name is Arwen.

Arwen joins big sisters Eliza, 7, and 3-year-old Paloma, who has Down syndrome. Speaking on The Motherly Podcast last year, Scorsone explained how Paloma's diagnosis made her "whole concept of what motherhood was had to shift."

It is likely shifting again, as any mama who has gone from two kids to three knows.

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When it comes to taking care of the baby and the house, modern dads say they want to be equal partners.

But when Saturday arrives, research shows men are often relaxing while women are the ones doing unpaid housework with a “leisure time" discrepancy of more than 50 minutes a day on the weekends.

The study revealed that women were more likely than men to spend their weekends watching kids or performing housework.

So after a long week of watching kids or clocking hours on the job, what does mom do more of than dad? Work.

Claire M. Kamp Dush, Ph.D., an associate professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University, and lead author of the new study, says she is hopeful we can all find more balance. It's just going to take some hard discussions—and an understanding that there's more than one way to load a dishwasher or dress a baby.

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The study published in the journal Sex Roles saw Ohio State researchers tracking how 52 dual-income couples spent their time on a minute-by-minute basis as they welcomed their first child. The participating couples kept time diaries for workdays and non-workdays during the third trimester and for about three months after the baby's birth.

The researchers expected to see a lot of entries where mom and dad were doing childcare or housework together, but they didn't.

“Men actually increased their time doing leisure while she was doing work across the transition of parenthood," Kamp Dush shares. “It actually got worse once the baby was there."

According to Kamp Dush, there are a couple of factors behind this disappointing dynamic.

“One thing that's going on is women have a lot of societal pressure put on them to be perfect mothers. So if something is less than perfect with the baby or the house, the consequences are coming back on them," she explains, adding this pressure to have everything done to high standards may lead some moms to micromanage their partners.

If a dad is slacking, Kamp Dush suggests moms ascertain what his motivations are. Often, she says the solution may be as simple as empowering him to do things his own way. (Even if it isn't the outfit you would have picked for the baby...)

“It may also be the case that he just doesn't want to do it and he enjoys his leisure time," says Kamp Dush. If that's the case, she suggests calmly explaining the cost that his rest requires you pay. That may prompt him to do a bit more because, as Kamp Dush says, “He might also enjoy having a happier spouse and co-parent."

The earlier you can have these conversations, the better

Unaddressed resentment in relationships tends to build overtime, which is why it's essential to check in on how you (and your partner) are feeling early and often.

Kamp Dush suggests moms with heavy mental loads write down the tasks and duties they're dealing with. Then rip the list in half and hand it to dad. Couples can certainly negotiate the listed responsibilities, but the important thing is that they're not all on mom.

“Then, you're going to have to let it go," she explains. “Men know how to do these things. As women, we need to just let them do it."

Dads need to do 50 minutes more of unpaid work

The gender disparity in unpaid work hurts our careers, our families and our relationships, but it doesn't have to.

According to the Promundo's State of the World's Fathers' report, if men did 50 minutes of unpaid work a day we could close the gender gap.

"We need men to do our share. Fifty minutes more to relieve women of 50 minutes less would get us really close to equal," the president and CEO of Promundo, Gary Barker, tells Motherly.

When dads are more empowered and moms feel like their household responsibilities are more balanced, the whole family is going to be better off.

[A version of this post was first published July 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

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For new mamas back to sitting behind their desks at work some six weeks (or fewer) after their babies are born, the institutionalized parental leave policy in Denmark is the stuff of daydreams: Over in that Scandinavian paradise, parents are granted 52 weeks of paid leave to divide between them.

There's no denying this is much, much better than the state of parental leave in the United States, but it isn't quite as perfect as it seems from the outside. According to Denmark's Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, women take an average 93% of leave allotted to couples. And when they do return to work, mothers' wages suffer both in comparison to men and women without children.

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The good news is that it seems the solution to this gender income gap is something we—the mothers of today, even here in America—can do something about.

A new paper from the US National Bureau of Economic Research that examined Danish administration information from 1980 to 2013 found the motherhood penalty “creates a gender gap in earnings of around 20% in the long run," which is comparable to the gap in the United States.

What's more, the income discrepancy only increases for each child a family in Denmark has: If a woman has four children, her income is only $0.60 to every dollar a man makes—10 years down the road.

While this indicates paid parental leave alone may not be the panacea for the gender income gap, the researchers suggest that changing the way we think about roles in the workplaces and homes could help—at least when it comes to the next generation.

“As a possible explanation for the persistence of child penalties, we show that they are transmitted through generations, from parents to daughters (but not sons)," the researchers note, explaining that the more a daughter's mother worked while the girl was growing up, the less the daughter's income was affected when she became a mother.

“Women tend to adopt a balance of paid work and childcare that is correlated with the one they saw their mother strike when they were growing up," Henrik Kleven, a Princeton economist and the paper's lead author, tells Quartz At Work.

What this looks like in practice is splitting household responsibilities from the get-go and encouraging fathers to take more leave. (In Sweden, where fathers are penalized for not taking advantage of paternity leave, women's earning rose an average 7% for each month of leave that men took.)

According to the State of the World's Fathers' report, produced by Promundo (a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging men and boys in gender equality in partnership with Dove Men+Care) 85% of dads surveyed in the United States, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands want to take paternity leave, and yet less than 50% of fathers take as much time as their country's policy allows, and social norms, financial pressures and a lack of support from their managers are all factors.

The report also found that if fathers are able to do just under an hour of unpaid work per day, mothers can cut their unpaid labor time by the same amount.

"We need men to do our share. Fifty minutes more to relieve women of 50 minutes less would get us really close to equal," the president and CEO of Promundo, Gary Barker, told Motherly.

This may help shift us toward more income equality today—and, as the research shows, our daughters will really be able to reap the benefits.

[A version of this post was first published January 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

News

There's no doubt: It's a new parenting era than 20 or 30 years ago.

Now faced with questions about how to limit screen time, when to give children phones and how to protect them from cyber threats, there are simply some issues that today's parents can't get advice on from our own parents.

Does that mean it's harder to be a parent today than when we were growing up? Yes, say 88% of young moms and dads.

According to a BPI Network survey of 2,000 parents in the United States and Canada, the leading reasons parenting feels harder than ever include: social media distractions, challenges with two working parents, emotional or behavioral dysfunction, peer competition or bullying, and violence and safety concerns in schools.

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Of course, most of us weren't fully aware of the challenges our parents faced when we were young—such as the fact they couldn't readily call on their own moms for advice lest they wanted to rack up major long-distance bills and couldn't have anything in the world delivered to their doorsteps within two days.

Regardless of whether it's true, the perception that parenting is harder than ever has contributed to some two-thirds of the respondents saying they've experienced "parental burnout."

"Parental burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion," says Neil D. Brown, LCSW, author of Ending The Parent-Teen Control Battle. "It leaves parents feeling chronically fatigued… and it can lead to depression, chronic anxiety and illness."

With 40% reporting parental burnout has "significantly" affected their qualities of life and another 49% saying it has "somewhat" affected their wellbeing, it's time employers take a vested interest in addressing the issue, says Dave Murray, Chief Strategy and Research Officer at the BPI Network.

"It is staggering to look at the incidence of [parental burnout] symptoms among working parents in America and understand the implications this has for added employee burden, cost, concern and downtime," Murray says, adding that counseling services to promote healthy parenting should "certainly" be among the benefits employers look to offer.

Many working parents are also hopeful that their employers will recognize the importance of practices that support healthy balance between work and life—with 78% of respondents to Motherly's 2018 State of Motherhood survey saying they believe it's possible to combine careers and motherhood. Of those who worked outside the home, the biggest changes they would like to see include subsidies for childcare or on-site childcare, paid maternity leave and more flexible schedules.

In our second annual State of Motherhood Survey in 2019 just over half (51%) of mothers said "I feel discouraged: it's extremely challenging managing trade-offs" associated with combining a career and motherhood.

The consequences of unaddressed parental burnout have an unfortunate way of spilling over to other members of the family. According to a recent study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, a sample of 1,551 parents suggested "parental burnout has a statistically similar effect to job burnout on addictions and sleep problems, a stronger effect on couples' conflicts and partner estrangement mindset and a specific effect on child-related outcomes (neglect and violence) and escape and suicidal ideation."

While employers have a stake in addressing this issue, there's also a lot that individuals can do—like starting by cutting ourselves a break on self-imposed expectations. As research has shown, the more grace we give ourselves and others in the ways we parent, the less prone we ultimately are to burning out.

And while we've heard this all before, it's also worth remembering just how important it is to take time for ourselves. "We must have regular practices to refuel," LMHC Jasmin Terrany previously told Motherly. "We don't need to feel guilty about taking this time for ourselves—our kids will not only learn that self-care is essential, but when we are good, they will be good."

Then don't feel one ounce of guilt about using that time to call someone long-distance or place another Amazon Prime delivery so you can remember that parenting in this day and age does have its perks.

[A version of this post was originally published July 29, 2018. It has been updated.]

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