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Let me make a confession: since becoming a mother of two, the idea of being left alone with my two children is incredibly petrifying. Both have such intense needs of such different scopes. The four year old wants to play, build, and explore. The baby wants to nurse, snuggle, and be held. And what about me? When do I eat, pee or get back to an email? Somehow the idea of managing these two very different realities simultaneously has resulted in a confidence shutdown and ultimately the belief that I need pretty consistent support to do the juggle of two. This puts an inordinate amount of pressure on my busy husband and an over-reliance on childcare. But worst of all, by far, is my own overwhelming sense of powerlessness when it comes to the care of my kids.

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This lack of confidence in handling my two children was bleeding into other areas of my life, like how I manage a business relationship or speak for myself in a moment of tension with a family member. Confidence is confidence, and if it’s lacking in one area it’s likely an issue somewhere else.

It was time to change the dynamic. My husband brought us to our upstate home on a Saturday morning and headed back to the city for the work week on Sunday night. A friend took my son to the park one morning, and another friend helped pack up the car before we headed back to the city. But otherwise, I purposely refused childcare from Sunday night through Thursday afternoon. I was on mom duty and I was embracing it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

There were numerous meltdowns (my sons), some tears (mine and my baby’s), and lots of laughter and snuggles when we all woke up together in the early morning. Since I often got the “worst” of my son’s behavior, I utilized our time to step up my voice and get the respect I deserve. I also refined my multitasking skills (dinner prep while baby naps and child does an art project) and gave myself permission to utilize the tools I have. After all, one hour of TV so that I can properly put the baby to bed at night will not kill my son and in fact and will in fact reward him with a more focused mom during his bedtime! Letting up on all my “rules” on things like screen time and treats can help me get it all done in a peaceful manner -- as long as nothing is abused and mom has the upper hand, I’m where I need to be.

By the time Thursday morning arrived, it was time to head back to the city, and I had never driven a long drive with the two kids. The fun began when my four year old began demanding a piece of gum…I reluctantly handed him a piece when it fell to the floor. He began to wail. A few threats later (I will drop you off on the side of the highway), everyone calmed down. But not long after, the little one started to sob! I thought, for sure she was just tired and needed to settle down and fall asleep -- and so, I kept driving. At the final stop before crossing the George Washington Bridge, I finally decided the crying had gone on long enough. My little girl was not only covered in massive amounts of snot but had a diaper full of poop. We ultimately made it sanely back to the city and since I had intelligently arranged child care to meet me back at our apartment, I promptly booked myself a massage -- and boy, did I need it!

But even after all of that, the days in the country, just the 3 of us, were beautiful. I loved playing outside with both of them, watching the two of them laugh at one another, and listening to the forest of birds on our porch first thing in the morning. In my heart, I know these are the moments I will treasure forever.

I can’t tell you how proud, how confident, how badass I felt. Knowing that I could handle my two kids solo and not just handle it, but enjoy it? Clearly this was a place I needed to reach,and I’m so glad that I faced it head on.

What’s challenging you right now? What beliefs do you hold in one part of your life that may be limiting you in another? Can you slow things down a bit to face a fear and begin to realize that you are more capable than you believe?

Photography by Nafisa Skeie Photography.

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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


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