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The diaper bag: No mom ever leaves home without it, no kid ever leaves it alone. At first glance, a diaper bag is simply a bag -- something flung over a mom’s shoulder, stuffed with diapers, bottles, and Cheerio crumbs. But isn’t a diaper bag so much more than that? Truly, perfect diaper bag execution is a coveted skill; and once you’ve got it down, it all changes again.

We bring you The Life Cycle of a Diaper Bag.

Stage One: Pre-Baby Fantasy

In stage one, the diaper bag sits pretty by the door. It is small, compact, and generally disguised as a purse. It isn’t really used yet, just ready to be thrown into action at a moment’s notice. It’s still crisp and clean, with sparse contents divided into appropriate pockets or separate, stylish zipper pouches. Contents generally include a single diaper (maybe two); a hard case of perfectly folded wipes; an extra pacifier with the protective case still in place; and a small collection of wooden teethers. The stage-one diaper bag is photoshoot-ready, a sight to behold.

Stage Two: Postpartum Reality

The stage-two diaper bag is the same bag as the stage-one bag, but it has moved from fantasy to reality. Naturally, having been sent into battle, the diaper bag has now suffered the wear-and-tear of being tossed from car to stroller, from the counter to the ground, from Target cart to grocery basket, and et cetera. Having learned many lessons the hard way, the stage-two mama has appropriately restocked her bag as follows: no fewer than five diapers and an entire jumbo pack of wipes; three extra pacifiers thrown in at random, protective cases be damned—just lick ‘em to clean ‘em; two changes of clothes and corresponding “wet bags” (aka, old plastic grocery sacks); a bottle with the formula already in it, even though it’s supposed to be stored in a separate container; and three noisy, horrifically bright plastic rattles that make excessive noise inside the bag, but can never be found when needed.


Stage Three: Reverse Carpet Bag

First off, mourn the loss of the stylish purse-like diaper bag; that dies with stage two. Stage-three moms have upgraded to some horrendously large number, bound and determined that they’ve morphed into SuperMoms and will be prepared for anything. Sadly, this is where stage-three moms get tripped up because stage-three diaper bags are actually infinite voids. They are very Mary Poppins-like, a carpet bag quality—it’s amazing what fits in! The problem? Nothing ever comes out.

A stage-three mom still needs to pack her diaper bag for each outing. She will ask, “Do I have diapers?” But rather than check, she’ll add two more. She’ll forget to ask, “Do I have wipes?” and will need to wet paper towels in the gas station bathroom after discovering that the wipe pack had a tear and all the wipes are dried out. And every day, snacks will be added but never fully consumed. At any given moment, a stage-three diaper bag could contain a half-finished cup of now spoiled milk; two crushed packages of puffs; an open container that once contained cooked peas (which are now stuck to the darkest corners of the bag); and one of those disgusting mesh pouches with what used to be fruit inside. Having learned that spoons and keys and candy bar wrappers are much more entertaining than toys, the stage three mom stops loading rattles into the bag, but judging from the sound, there’s still pieces of an old one floating around in there somewhere.

Stage Four: False Freedom

After the one year mark, the diaper bag moves into its fourth phase. Certain that she now has a toddler, not a baby, a stage-four mom makes the horrible mistake of downgrading too early. When it comes to diaper bags, the only law is Murphy’s Law, so if you don’t have it with you, you will absolutely need it. But you know what? Despite this having happened to every stage-four mom in the history of the world, babies have still been raised into adulthood. (This is the first indication that freedom is coming.)

Stage Five: Interim

Stage five looks very different depending on where you live and how you get around. Stage five is less about keeping your small human fed, clean, and alive and more about keeping them entertained. If you’re a city mom, you learn to stash a multitude in your stroller, thus the diaper bag shrinks. A city stroller always contains a bucket and shovel; a blanket; bubbles; a small ball; child-size sunglasses ; a sun hat, which will never be worn but makes a mother feel better to have it; and rain gear. If you’re a suburban mom instead, you can keep these things in your car since they are obviously too large to fit in any version of a diaper bag. Which is exactly why stage five is the transition phase—you might still need a lot of gear, but you start finding different places to put it.

Stage Six: Portability

By stage six, the moms have woken up and realized that they need some life back too. They’ve spent nearly two years toting around the needs of some other human, and they start to wish for unbroken sunglasses or a chapstick that doesn’t have small teeth marks in it. Stage-six moms will declare freedom from the diaper bag and go out to purchase something purse-like again. The timid opt for the canvas tote; the committed spring for the leather satchel. Whatever your level of risk, it’s important to realize that, a new bag doesn’t actually free you from diaper bag responsibility. You’ll still need to leave the house prepared. But by stage six, you’ll also want to be able to leave the house without kids and without having to switch out of the diaper bag. Thus, enter the diaper pouch —a snazzy mini-bag that can hold a diaper or a pull-up, some wipes, a snack, emergency crayons, princess Band-Aids, and hand sanitizer.

It’s safe to say that after you’ve lived a diaper bag life, you’ll probably never really grow out of it. After stage six, you might be able to get away with no diaper bag; but you’ll be so accustomed to having cheesy bunnies and first-aid supplies, that you’ll feel lost without them, kids or no. The life of a diaper bag is fleeting, in the grand scheme of things; but really, the spirit of the diaper bag lives on.

Image via HATCH Collection's Anti-Diaper Bag.

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By: Justine LoMonaco

From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.

This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Learn + Play

If there's one item that people claim is *so* worth the price-tag, it's a Dyson vacuum. The cordless tools have become essentials in homes, cleaning up messes quickly, all without the hassle of a cord.

If you've avoided purchasing one because of the high cost, you're in luck! They're having a sale on Amazon right now. Some of the most popular vacuums and air purifiers are up to 40% off.

Dyson Cyclone V10 Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner, $379.99

dyson vacuum on sale

Arguably the most popular of the Dyson family, and marked down 20%.


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.

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Beyoncé's new Netflix documentary Homecoming hit the streaming service today and gives us an honest look at how difficult her twin pregnancy was.

"My body went through more than I knew it could," she says in the film, revealing that her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi was a shock right from the beginning, and the surprises kept coming.

In the film she reveals that her second pregnancy was unexpected, "And it ended up being twins which was even more of a surprise," she explains.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer | Netflix

The pregnancy was rough. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia, a condition that impacts about 5 to 8% of pregnancies and results in high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia poses risks to both the mother and the baby. People who are pregnant with multiples, like Beyoncé was, are more at risk to develop preeclampsia, and the only real cure for the condition is to give birth, which proved to be another medical challenge for Beyoncé.

"In the womb, one of my babies' hearts paused a few times so I had to get an emergency C-section," she shares in the film.

Thankfully, Beyoncé made it through her extremely difficult pregnancy, but the physical challenges didn't end there. The road to rehabilitation for the performer was difficult because, as she explains, she was trying to learn new choreography while her body was repairing cut muscles and her mind just wanted to be home with her children.


"There were days that I thought I'd never be the same. I'd never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same," Beyoncé recalls.

We know that becoming a mother changes us in so many ways, and in Homecoming, Beyoncé shows the world the strength that mothers possess, and rejects any ideas about "bouncing back."

Becoming a mother is hard, but it is so worth it, and Beyoncé isn't looking backward—she's looking at a mother in the mirror and loving who and what she sees. "I just feel like I'm just a new woman in a new chapter of my life and I'm not even trying to be who I was," Beyoncé said in the documentary. "It's so beautiful that children do that to you."

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Warmer weather is finally here, mama—and that means it's time to switch up the family's wardrobes. 🙌 If you love matching with your little, or are determined to *finally* get those family photos made this spring or summer, we're obsessed with these mommy and me matching sets.

Here are some of our favorite mommy and me matching outfits for spring. 😍

1. Ivy City Co Jumpsuits, $42.00-$62.00

mommy and me matching jumpsuits

This linen set is perfect for transitioning from hanging out at home to dressing up for days out. Plus, plenty of space for growth!


2. Madewell x crewcuts Denim Set, $55.00 and up

mommy and me matching denim set

We're obsessed with the '90s vibes these sets give. Now to decide which to choose—denim jacket, shorts, or dress?


3. Old Navy Floral Midi Dresses, $10.00-$22.50

Old navy mommy and me matching dresses

Nothing says spring quite like florals. The whimsical prints are dainty and the rayon fabric is breathable for those warmer days. Shop mama's version here.


4. PatPat Matching Family Swimwear, $19.99 and up

matching family swimwear

Match with the entire family with this pinstripe set. We love the one shoulder look, too!


5. Keds x Rifle Paper Co Sneakers, $44.95-$79.95

mommy and me matching shoes

Twin with your little in these embroidered canvas sneakers. Bonus points for a rubber outsole so no slipping. 👏Shop the version for mama here.


6. Lily Pulitzer Shift Dresses, $58.00-$198.00

Lilly pulitzer matching dresses

Still not sure what to wear for Easter or that summer soirée? Pick up these matching shift dresses for the most beautiful family photos. Shop mama's version here.


7. Maisonette x marysia Swimwear, $57.00 and up

Mommy and me matching swimwear

These are definitely splurge-worthy, but we can't get over how adorable they pair together.


8. PatPat Gingham Dresses, $17.99-23.99

mommy and me matching gingham dresses

These will be your go-to pick for every outing this spring and summer.


9. Old Navy Striped Oxford Shirts, $13.00-$22.00

matching striped oxford shirts

A relaxed oxford is a staple in everyone's closet. It's versatile enough to dress up or pair with denim for a more laid back look. Shop mama's version here.


10. Pink Chicken Garden Dress, $72.00-$198.00

pink chicken matching garden dress

Whether you have a spring wedding to attend or want something flowy to wear for vacation, we adore these garden dresses. Bonus points for working for maternity wear, too.


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.

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Being a perfectionist has naturally been part of who I was since as long as I can remember. I could blame living in the continental U.S., where perfectionism is highly esteemed, or the family dynamics that come with growing up in a household of five women.

Deep down, though, I think it all really stems from a deep and instinctual longing to be loved, accepted and approved. Whatever the reason, it has never really been a part of me that I considered a problem.

That is, until, I became a mom.

When I had my first child, I did the best I could to keep it all together, to prevent people from seeing how my perfection was being pulled apart at the seams.

A nap schedule was, of course, essential. My son was easygoing and slept through the night like an angel baby. My house was still spotless and I managed to somehow work part-time and keep healthy meals on the table every night, but I did struggle tremendously with breastfeeding.

Since I took this failure as a great assault at my abilities to properly nurture my child, I let mom guilt run rampant over the issue. I decided I would just step up my perfect-parenting game in another way by pumping breastmilk around the clock until my son was around 18 months old.


For anyone who has ever exclusively pumped, you know it can become total madness and take away the joy of feeding your child.

Managing a toddler was definitely wild, but with my background in pediatrics, I knew how to keep him busy while I kept things "under control." In other words, with just one child, I could still play the part of being perfect. All was fine until I became a mom of two children. It wasn't long after my daughter was born that I realized I needed to start letting go of perfection.

I was living alone in a new city with no help and my husband worked long hours. Managing a 2-year-old and a newborn, all while trying to keep a perfectly clean house and healthy dinners on the table every night, was, to my surprise, impossible in every way. My body was a wreck, not "bouncing back" as it did with my first. My daughter never slept for more than three hours until she was over a year old. She cried for hours on end most nights, as I tried relentlessly to calm her.

I remember bouncing her in her carrier for hours trying to get her to calm down and settle in for sleep. Meanwhile, I was a zombie and my son tore every square inch of the house into pieces. Keeping a naptime schedule was nearly impossible with another child to consider. Dinner was often takeout. There were days when I didn't look in the mirror or have proper clothing on until 5 pm.

The demands of motherhood laughed at my idea of picture-perfect motherhood. Every night I went to bed feeling like I had failed my children. I cried. Oh man, did I cry.

It wasn't long until I came to the realization that if I wanted to be a good mom, that is, to focus on things that are actually important, I had to stop sweating all the small stuff.

Even though I didn't really know how I was relieved that I didn't have to keep up with myself anymore. I had grown so weary of the high standards I had set for myself and those around me. I wanted a way out of the perfectionist trap and to loosen the reigns.

I realized that the most beautiful encounters with my children had been when I decided to say, "Oh, don't worry about it!" (i.e. the house, dinner, naptime schedules, etc). Love and joyful encounters with my children was incomparable to the latter. I knew my children needed me to look at them and not the 3-day- old stain on the dining room floor. The beauty in the moments, when I intentionally chose stillness and gratitude over productivity, was the reason I decided it was time to lay down a life-long pattern of perfectionism and control.

The problem was, I didn't really know where to start. I had been living this way for more than three decades. But I did know that I needed to start somewhere. So I started practicing being imperfect. Just like I had been teaching my 4-year old son. "The only way to get better at something is by practicing," I would tell him.

So, I did. And so I still am, practicing being imperfect.

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