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Raising Kids Away from Your Family

Creating a village for you and your child when family lives far away.

Raising Kids Away from Your Family

I still remember the day I moved to New York City with my now husband -- the excitement and total lack of fear. This was it: my high school dream come true with the man I hoped to someday marry. It was everything I imagined it would be; late nights, long mornings in bed and countless brunches.

Then I got pregnant, and that’s when it began to sink in: I was a long way from my friends and family. They wouldn’t be part of my growing belly, the excitement of decorating the nursery and shopping for baby.

One of the most magical things about pregnancy and motherhood is that women are so kind to one another. You are, after all, going through the same things, so there’s an immediate connection. But I’m very shy, and putting myself out there to meet and connect with other moms and moms-to-be was no easy task.

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And I knew when my daughter, Ady, was born, it was going to be much harder without family around. Sure, I could have moved back to the UK, but New York was my home, and I could never pretend it wasn’t. So instead of planning a London exodus, I did everything I could to build a support system.

Midway through my pregnancy, a friend told me about one of the many local moms groups in New York City. I eventually fell into a group of women who were due to give birth around the same time as me. I can’t tell you how invaluable this was. We went through each trimester together, understood each other’s feeling and could ask each other questions about our changing bodies, hormones and more.

When Ady was born, my Friday meeting with the friends I had made through mom groups was one of the highlights of my week. It was amazing to have adult conversations, share any concerns I had as a new mom and just generally feel an overwhelming amount of support.

They also stepped in to help out when my family couldn’t. It was hard at first; with family, we tend to have a lot less guilt (virtually none) about inconveniencing them. If I were in London, I wouldn’t hesitate to call my mom and say, “I’m so sick, I cannot cope today, please, can you come help me?” But with friends, we feel as if we are putting them out or asking too much.

You would be surprised at how untrue this is. My friend and I recently sat down and made a promise to one another that if we were ever in a situation where we needed help, we would not think twice about asking. I feel a lot happier knowing that in any unfortunate situation -- from being locked out to a dreaded medical emergency -- I have someone to lean on.

Having childcare has also been an important part of my support system. I have had the same nanny since Ady was 4 months old (she is nearly 4 now!), and she has become a part of our family. I feel incredibly lucky to have her and can so clearly see the love that she and Ady have for one another. Having her in our lives diminishes my mom guilt dramatically and keeps me sane. Plus, it brings comfort to know that Ady feels just as happy with another person.

I understand that not everyone wants or can have a nanny, but it’s key to at least find a great roster of sitters that your children can get to know. Parents need the ability to look after themselves - after all, looking after yourself allows you to look after others.

Now, 4 years into raising my daughter far away from family, I’ve learned that family can actually be a broad word for those you surround yourself with. And I’m grateful for the people who have become part of our “family” and who have made parenting abroad so much easier.

About the Author: Lauren Mansell is the CEO and Founder of Hello Sitter, on-demand childcare app that enables NYC parents to quickly and easily book fully vetted, carefully curated and highly experienced sitters. Lauren was inspired to start Hello Sitter from her own experience sourcing childcare in New York, and is deeply involved in every aspect of the company--from fielding customer service inquiries to writing the company blog to using the app to book sitters for her daughter Ady. She is a firm believer in the importance of me-time and spontaneity for parents and families, and aims to bring flexibility and comfort to parents across New York City with Hello Sitter.

These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. 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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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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