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A Note about Mommy Judging

Let’s not let our differences cloud the one amazing thing we all have in common: Motherhood.

A Note about Mommy Judging

Last week, Jessica wrote a very personal and brave piece on the site about her experience as a formula-feeding mama, and judging by the reaction, it left a bad taste in some readers’ mouths. We know not everyone is always going to agree with our points of view, but the comments were disheartening nonetheless. Whether it's breast vs. bottle, or another hot-button issue, what was most unsettling was that any mother could find the energy to write such hurtful comments to another mother who is just trying to do her best every day (aren't we all?). And I can tell you, as Jessica's partner and friend, that her best is f-ing solid -- she’s raising one of the smartest 2-year-olds I've encountered (and I have no doubt her newborn will prove just as intelligent).

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Here at Well Rounded NY, we go to great lengths to make sure we are sensitive to each one of our reader’s potential circumstances. Every piece goes through a formula-feeding mom (Jess) and a breastfeeding mom (me). Every piece goes through a work-from-home mom (me) and a work-out-of-home mom (Jess). Every piece goes through a mom that gave birth naturally (Jess) and one who gave birth by c-section (me). It wasn't a coincidence that we chose the name Well Rounded. One of the most important things we have learned as new moms is that every parenting situation -- from conception -- is different, and we wanted to create a community to celebrate that.

With that said, before becoming a mother, I admit I judged parents left and right. I did. So to that mother who let her kid throw a tantrum on the dirty sidewalk of Driggs and N. 6th: I totally judged you, and now as we approach our terrible twos, I too, have been there. To the mother who I judged for nursing her 2 1/2 year old: surprise! We're hitting year two of nursing -- why was I so naive? To the many parents I judged for "letting" their kids cry in a restaurant: I am so very sorry, because now I know you just wanted to, you know, eat. Now mind you, all this judgement happened before my baby left my womb, because once he arrived, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I loved him, and that I needed to keep him alive. Every day was an opportunity to do something wrong. Or right. For us.

This gift of motherhood is incredible, but it can be difficult. There are days I'm so filled with joy and love I want explode, and others that, as a friend recently texted me, "I just want to stay in the shower all day." It is emotional, physical and incredibly gratifying. But we all need one another. When expectant and new mothers are reading stories on WRNY, we want you to know we respect your choices. And know that when you read a personal piece, it is just that: personal. We hope it helps someone going through a similar experience, or at the very least, reaffirms that there are so many different kinds of mothers.

We hope everyone feels welcome to express their opinions and comment on every story, but we also don't want to scare anyone from sharing their experience on WRNY in fear of getting judged. So before you question another parent’s decisions -- whether online or in real life -- remember that tomorrow is a new day, and you just may find yourself walking in those same shoes that mom you judged yesterday was wearing.

We know we’re not the only ones -- have you experienced judgement from other moms?

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

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

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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