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When I read the study that revealed mothers work on average 98 hours a week I was relieved.


I was relieved...because recently I found myself wondering why I felt so tired all the time.

I was relieved...because it’s been years since I’ve had a week off from work or kids or house stuff.

I was relieved...because I feel like all I do is take care of children, clean or work.

Reading that moms work the equivalent of two-and-a-half full time jobs each week, well, it made me feel validated.

THIS is why I’m so tired.

The study found that women say they start caring for children, on average, around 6 a.m. each day, and clock off after 8 p.m. Add in tantrums, nursing sessions, cleaning, play dates, drop-offs, school forms and millions of micro events in between. (And that’s a ‘good’ day, of course—without sleep issues or illnesses or middle-of-the-night musings about the color of dinosaur tails...) So of course we’re exhausted.

Motherhood can do that to you. But does it have to do that to you?

Enter: Andrea. Every woman needs a mom friend like Andrea. Exactly a decade older than I am, her kids were babies 10 years ago. She’s wise. She’s been through this whole motherhood thing before. Plus, she has a way of planting wisdom for me before I need it—so when I finally arrive at the stage she was talking about, her advice is right there where she left it.

“Nobody will force you to take a vacation, Liz,” she reminded me during a recent vent session. “No one else will book you a getaway—or force you to go to the gym—or tell you to stop working late nights. Only you can shape the life you want to live.”

Motherhood is so all-consuming that it was beginning to consume me.

It was getting me up super early to get ahead at work. It was keeping me up late to scrub the kitchen sink. It was making me feel guilty for not being a time-traveler who could magically be at swim lessons, work meetings and Barre class at the exact same time.

This all-consuming mentality was making me feel inadequate, even though I knew I was doing the best I could, all the time. It was making me feel like I should do MORE—even though the main thing I needed was a break.

Andrea’s reminder was the exact advice I needed to get back into the driver’s seat of my own life.

So I’m giving myself a break.

I’m giving myself a break from the guilt of not being the “perfect” mom, and I’m buying myself a “World’s Okayest Mom” mug instead. My kids are safe, happy, healthy and loved. We are doing okay.

I’m giving myself a break from working late on my laptop every night, and giving myself permission to slow down and sip tea after my kids are asleep.

I’m giving myself a break from not playing all the exact right developmentally-targeted games with my kids, and spending more leisurely, deliberate, child-led time together. Yesterday I attempted to build a slingshot with my son (his idea), today we’re shopping for cake pop ingredients (also his idea.) It makes him feel so happy and loved to direct our play and takes all the burden off of me to plan our “activities.” To the bathtub for swim time, and beyond! ?

I’m giving myself a break from thinking my house has to look “picture perfect” at all times. Sometimes it will, but many times it won’t. We live here. It’s a busy, family life in motion. Our house is not always going to look like Joanna Gaines *just* stapled some shiplap up and sprinkled her Fixer Upper fairy dust everywhere. Sometimes there will be jelly stains on the couch and school forms on the floor and that’s real life.

I’m giving myself a break from thinking I would look SO AWESOME if I just lost the rest of the baby weight—because lots of people mistake me for a teenager (I’m 32, I think...#MomBrain) and that’s enough of a compliment for now.

I’m giving myself a break from doing ALL THE THINGS, and sending more tasks to my husband to manage during his business trips. School forms can be filled out remotely, doctor’s appointments can be scheduled, soccer clubs can be joined—even while he travels. Involved dads, FTW!

I’m giving myself a break from not taking a break, and committed to a getaway with my work partner, a winter vacation with my sister, and a 2018 anniversary trip with my husband. ✈️

I’m giving myself a break from not being enough. While I still have lots of #GOALS, I’m focusing less on the feeling of inadequacy, and more on the on tiny steps I’ll take to get there.

Motherhood is the one all-consuming, all-amazing, all-exhausting journey—and I’m the only person who can really control how I handle it.

I want to be a role model to my kids—that mommy loves them and is committed to her work—and she needs time for herself too. I need a break before I break and I know that’s good for my kids too.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas


Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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