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You need a break...before you break, mama

Put your feet up and relax. Please.

You need a break...before you break, mama

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

Why?

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 an 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.



The Motherly Shop is here 🎉 (and it has exactly what you need, mama)

We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

Since the beginning, Motherly has existed to help mamas of all experiences feel seen, understood and supported. Through expert and mom-to-mom advice and information we've been here to help you along the motherhood journey.

With that same ethos, we've created The Motherly Shop—an online collection of products curated for every stage of motherhood. We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best from brands and makers that really care—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

To make browsing a little easier, we curate the products based on mama needs + pain points. For example, here's our newest collection created to gather everything a pregnant woman needs.

Check out some of our favorites from our Becoming Mama collection and get shopping!

The sleep support

Belly Bandit SOS pillow

Finding the right position for sleep can feel like an Olympic sport when you've got a baby belly to accommodate. Belly Bandit, masters of creating wearables that support pregnant bodies, also managed to create the ideal tool for side sleeping.

$80

The wear-anywhere maternity dress

Stowaway Collection Maternity Becca dress

Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? They sew everything in Long Island City, NY and source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

$80

The chic but practical shoe 

OSAY the label slip on

Bending over to put shoes on is so overrated. We've got you covered with the most stylish and obsession-worthy handmade loafers with a secret. Just fold down the back, and BAM! slip-ons. Additionally, the La Babouche Loafer + Slip-On OSAY the Label beauties are made from recycled leather that literally forms to your feet.

$135

The delicate reminder

Whether it's whispered sweetly, shrieked from the top of the big slide, or echoed through the phone from thousands of miles away, 'mama' is the name you'll respond to for the rest of your life. Like all the Tiny Tags necklaces, this sweet reminder is laser engraved by highly skilled artisans in the USA.

$105

The stylish diaper bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag

Mina baie vegan stevie

When leaving the house requires as much prep as an international flight (ah, remember those?) having a spacious bag you can depend on is key. Mina Baie bags not only deliver on a space for everything, but also manage to do it in style. They're the kind of bags you'll carry even when you manage to leave your little one behind.

$178

The elegant baby book

Echo Art Bindery Baby Memory Book

From the minute they're born there are so many milestones and memories to capture. We hand-picked the gorgeous clothbound baby memory book from Echo Art Bindery for its small batch-feel and attention to detail. Made from high-quality paper it features colorful custom illustrations, a silver-stamped endive cover, and questions and prompts to help you remember those magical first days and beyond.

$62

The empowering accessory

Sontakey 'I was made for this' bracelet

Words are powerful. Reminding yourself that you can do hard things can go a long way in giving you the energy and confidence to do so. The beautiful mantra bands from Sontakey were created by two mamas who have made it their mission to empower others with these words of encouragement.

$35

The most delicious way to celebrate

Tost non-alcoholic refresher

Time to raise a glass, mama! We've long since had a crush on TÖST's non-alcoholic sparkles. The gingery cranberry tea blend is delicious on its own or even as a mixer. From baby showers to toasting an ordinary Tuesday that went off without a hitch, we think you'll be crushing on it too.

$50

The pampering belly oil

Esker belly oil duo

Moisturizing, soothing, and totally divine, Esker's belly oil duo is formulated with only the cleanest botanical essential oils. One for morning and one for nighttime, they're ideal for pampering that beautiful belly of yours around the clock.

$75

The hydration-friendly water bottle

Welly traveler water bottle

Meeting those daily hydration needs can be a challenge. (So can making it to the bathroom 700 hundred times a day, right?) We're big fans of Welly reusable bottles which not only look super sleek with their stainless steel and bamboo combo, but also include a removable infuser to brew tea or flavor your water.

$30

The pre-packed hospital bag

Belly and Bag fully prepared

Leave packing your hospital bag to the pros. After all, you have plenty of other things to think about right now, right? The brilliant women at Belly and Bag have truly thought of everything and packed it up just for you.

$225

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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The new top 100 American baby names, according to the Social Security office

Did you have a baby in 2018? Did your name make the top 10?

kasietannerphotography.com

[Editor's note: We know that being pregnant can be, well, a lot. And understanding what you really need versus what's just a nice-to-have takes time . With your needs in mind, we've selected the best products for pregnancy in The Motherly Shop. We've got you, mama.]

No one can beat Emma when it comes to naming babies in America. This week the Social Security Administration announced its annual list of the most popular baby names in America and Emma has the top spot on the girls' side for the fifth year in a row. On the boys' side Liam took the top spot for a second consecutive year.

According to the Social Security Administration, these were the top 20 baby names in America in 2018:

Girls: Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Charlotte, Mia, Amelia, Harper and Evelyn

Boys: Liam, Noah, William, James, Oliver, Benjamin, Elijah, Lucas, Mason and Owen

How do those top 10 lists compare to the top baby names of 2017? Well, the girls' list is nearly the same except that Mia and Charlotte switched spots, and Harper (a name that fell out of the top ten the previous year) is back and has ousted Abigail. On the boys' side, Lucas kicked Jacob out of the top 10.

The real changes happened lower down in the data. Let's take a look at the popular baby names that were trending hard in 2018:

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