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How-To: Nurse (Discreetly) at a Restaurant

Alexis Barad of Brunch with My Baby shows new mamas the ropes of nursing in public.

How-To: Nurse (Discreetly) at a Restaurant

Taking your baby out to a restaurant is like carrying a ticking time bomb, unless you have the kind of baby whose nursing schedule is so regular you can time it to the minute (in which case, I recommend keeping that fact to yourself). Your food could have just arrived on the table and Boom! -- the wailing, crying and screaming begins. So what’s a mama to do when she wants to nurse her baby and eat a panini too?

Here are some helpful tips for nursing a baby in a restaurant without losing your cool.

Always carry a swaddle blanket in your diaper bag.

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I never liked to feel too encumbered by “stuff” when we were out and about, so instead of bringing a nursing cover, I carried a multipurpose swaddle blanket. Swaddle blankets are so much more than a swaddling tool; they can act as a stroller sun shield, clean up a milky mess, and act as a burp cloth (among many other things). But my favorite way to use a swaddle blanket was to drape it across my chest so that it kind of looked like a toga, and nurse my baby underneath. An extra long swaddle blanket can pretty much stay in place with the weight of the fabric hanging down your back alone, but to be safe, tuck one of the corners into your bra strap or secure it under the back of your shirt. Sometimes I even tied it around my neck like a really big mama bib. If you go for one of the more high-end swaddle blankets by aden + anais, the pretty prints and luxurious texture of the fabric make nursing feel almost fancy.

Dress for undress.

If you’re nursing, it is not a great idea to go out to eat wearing a short dress with no buttons or zipper (I learned that the hard way). Because, what happens when baby gets hungry and you can’t access the milk bar without having to lift your dress up and exposing your underthings? You are much better off wearing anything -- ANYTHING -- with buttons: a button-down shirt dress with a skinny belt and a pair of flats, for example, or a chambray button-down over pants, with riding boots (and bright red lipstick). Another option? Oversize cardigans that you can cover your baby with like a mama bird with her wing.

Pick your table wisely.

Are you timid about whipping out the girls in public? Then maybe al fresco dining isn’t for you right now. Personally, after having a baby, I didn’t really care that much who saw any part of me, but when I was out with my more discreet nursing friends, eating outside was just way more awkward. If possible, choose a table inside, in a corner or against a wall. When you need to nurse, you can turn towards the wall, and use your back as cover. Your waiter might get a peep when refilling your iced tea, but consider that part of his tip.

Wear a pretty nursing bra.

If you are going out in public, and you know that your underthings will be on display, consider investing in a “going out” nursing bra -- one that hides milk stains more or less (the darker the better) and is pretty without drawing attention to itself (i.e. no leopard print). Don’t go overboard (nursing bras are expensive!) but invest in one bra that makes you feel good, so if it gets exposed, you can feel more confident.

Try not to overthink it.

You might think that when you are nursing publicly, there are neon arrow signs pointing to you, alerting everyone around you that you are currently sitting partially naked at a restaurant. But think about it: hundreds of nursing women have been eating meals out of the house for generations. Can you remember seeing these nursing mothers when you were catching up with girlfriends over frittatas and mimosas? Probably not. But they were there. People tend to be too caught up in their own thing to notice much else. And if people give you the stink eye for nursing, I recommend looking them straight in the eye and asking them if they’re thirsty.

Image source.

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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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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All the things that were left unsaid during the first presidential debate and why it matters

What parents need to know about President Trump's first debate against Joe Biden.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Parents in America have been living in survival mode for half a year now. Mothers are depleted and burned out, but most plan to use some of their precious-little energy to vote in the upcoming presidential election. According to a recent survey by Peanut, 93% of moms will be voting on November 3.

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The "mom vote" will be very important in this election. The Democratic Party is counting on moms who are angry with President Donald Trump, while a Republican PAC called Moms for Safe Neighborhoods hopes its 30-second ad is scary enough to convince suburban moms to re-elect the sitting president.

But this election isn't about mom rage versus maternal fear. It's about looking forward to a future where both are reduced. That is what America's moms really want, and need.

The two men vying for the leadership of America would do well to remember that, and should be paying more attention to the issues that impact families every day.

On Tuesday night when they took the debate stage for the first time, President Trump and Joe Biden talked about a lot of topics (sometimes at the same time), but they missed some real opportunities to talk to American mothers.

Here's why that matters:

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