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If you’re a sleep-deprived mama that stays up late for no reason, I get you.


No, really. I get you.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that at one point, someone has said to you: Okay, you’re sleep deprived—it’s essentially all you ever talk about, so why are you still up now that the kids are in bed?

My very logical, rational husband doesn’t understand why, despite the fact that I haven’t slept for longer than a two-hour stretch over the past couple of months, I still stay up well past the kids’ bedtime. You say you want ‘me-time’—but isn’t sleep the ultimate ‘me-time’? ‘ He asked me once.

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Before I had kids, the concept of ‘me-time’ was pretty stock standard.

I’d take the full hour lunch break at work and walk through the shops with no agenda whatsoever. On the weekend, I’d set off to the gym on my own for an hour and then stop by my favorite cafe and grab a cappuccino. Sometimes I’d get more than one bout of ‘me-time’ in one day. It was great.

Me and myself had the perfect amount of quality time together.

Now, as a stay-at-home-mother of two kids under 3, most mornings start with me being pulled from my bed either figuratively, by the sound of my 6-month-old wanting to nurse, or literally, by my 2.5-year-old yanking on one of my limbs asking for her daily smoothie and Paw Patrol. (Disclaimer: if I’m really lucky she wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and her father is the recipient of this wake-up call instead.) After getting out of bed, I begin the diaper-changing-breakfast-providing factory line as quickly as possible so that I can inject some caffeine into my bloodstream.

Enter one of the top-5 things I didn’t quite understand before I had kids...being a stay-at-home-mom means that almost everything I do in the course of a day, will be interrupted.

I’m going to be totally honest with you—recently I’ve felt myself becoming resentful towards the fact that I am always, always, being interrupted.

I never get a minute to myself.

Never.

I can’t finish a single task from start to finish. And on the rare occurrence that I do, it’s usually when they’re napping—and I can’t really bask in the success of that because the whole process was saturated with the anxiety and panic of wondering whether I just heard someone wake up.

Hungry? Don’t bother making that sandwich. That’s why the cliché of mothers eating their kids’ leftovers was born.

Need to pee? Sure. Go right ahead, knowing that you will be followed, so you will either have an audience or the phrase “are you finished?” chanted repeatedly through the door loudly.

Just had a moment of inspiration for something you want to do? A project you might want to start, perhaps? BAM. Stop. Interruption. I need a snack. I need crackers. I want to go to the playground. I’m sitting on my baby sister. I’m hungry again. Feed me. My gums hurt. Hold me. That sound scared me. Hold me. I just rolled over and now I’m stuck. Pick me up. Feed me. Hold me. Play with me. Sing to me. Dance with me. Just sit there and watch me. Deal with my diaper. Now deal with her diaper. Oops, my diaper again, please. Feed me. I need you. I’m tired. I need to sleep. I’m bored. Let’s play. Feed me. Hold me.

Wait, what was my thought again?

I’ve recently created a list on my smartphone titled “Things I Want To Do.”

Do not confuse this with a simple to-do list.

It’s not just things I need to do. It’s made up of the haphazard half-thoughts that run through my mind while I’m tending to the kids. The thoughts I don’t quite get to finish. The moments of inspiration to start something, do something, think about something. I’ve started noting them down. It’s made up of the little errands that crop up. Things I know I’ll probably forget. It’s made up of emails I need to send. Text messages I need to respond to. New recipes I want to try. Amazing world-altering ideas I have.

It’s sort of like a poor man’s Pinterest board, I suppose.

When I surveyed this list the other day, I thought to myself, ‘When will I ever get around to doing all, or any, of these things?’

Resentment. I felt that resentment again. And I didn’t like that feeling.

I did understand though—this is why I stay up late.

The few hours between the kids going to bed, and the first middle-of-the-night waking, are the only hours in a day where I might possibly not be interrupted. Even a need as basic as sleep is interrupted, from when my head hits the pillow until it’s time for the day to officially start.

So I sit there, splayed on the couch at 8 p.m., wanting to do everything—everything—on that list, but literally feeling like I can’t move my body and will it to do anything at all. I’m just. So. Tired.

So a couple of days ago, I told my husband I needed something.

I need a regular date—with myself.

While I’m home with our children, I need to be interrupted, but then be able to graciously accept that interruption and not feel like I have to cast away everything that I want to the side.

I need to think of something I want to do, just for myself, be interrupted, be okay with being interrupted because I know that I’ll have my time to get back to that thing, whatever it was.

So I asked for a weekly 3-hour me-time date. To do whatever I want, wherever I want, however I want.

Maybe I want three hours to bake in the kitchen while he takes the kids out somewhere. Maybe I’ll go out to a cafe on my own and write. Maybe I want to lock myself in the study with noise-cancelling headphones on and design something. Maybe I want to go for a run. Maybe I want to get my nails done. Maybe I just want to walk somewhere, anywhere, and stop and explore whenever I feel like it. Maybe I want to call my mom. Or finally sort out that really messy cupboard. Or sleep. Take a nap. Go for a swim. Whatever.

When I started feeling that resentment, I knew I had to change something.

This wasn’t my children’s fault. They’re not out to get me. This is my job. I’m supposed to be here, and really be here, for them. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to try and do things for myself as well while I’m with them, but I need to make peace with the fact that with kids this young, they will need me—often, and for almost everything. I will be interrupted. I most likely won’t finish most of the things that I start.

And that’s okay. That’s just how things flow with little kids around.

But I don’t want to lose myself. I don’t want to forget who I am.

I am their mother—totally, wholly and entirely. It is my proudest role and it fills me with so much joy and love I can barely take it. But that is not all I am. I was, and am, many things before I became their mother. I miss her, sometimes. She has a heart that fills with excitement at the prospect of a new project or goal. She is revitalized by the adrenaline flowing through her body after going for an intense run. She loves to sing—loud. She has ideas. She wants to do things. She loves her family, but she feels that part of herself becoming smaller and quieter.

She knows that motherhood is an indescribable, beautiful sacrifice of so much of yourself, but she also knows, that to be able to take care of the people she brought into the world, she needs to make sure she takes care of herself, too. She needs to take herself out on a date, to remember what she loves about herself and to remind herself of everything she has been through to arrive at this landing point in her life.

Does the mama in your life need a date with herself?

I’m willing to bet she probably does. Whether you are that mama, or you’re married to her, or you’re her best friend, her parent, her neighbor—tell that mama to take herself out on a date. She may resist it and start to tell you the five hundred reasons why it’s not feasible. Whether you’re talking to yourself, or to another person, tell her—this is important. You can make this work. You don’t even need to leave the house. And you’ll be happy you did it afterward.


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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.

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"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!

News

In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.

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Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]

Life

Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

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Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

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Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life
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