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Anne-Marie Slaughter on the mental load of motherhood and why we need to be doing less

The cultural shift that brought women into the workplace didn't shift the load we were already carrying, but added to it.

Anne-Marie Slaughter on the mental load of motherhood and why we need to be doing less

Anne-Marie Slaughter is a renowned political scientist, the President and CEO of New America, and the first woman to ever work as the director of Policy Planning for the Department of State.

She is also a mother who changed the way we think about work and motherhood when she left the Department of State after two years to spend more time with her sons, and wrote the most read article in the history of The Atlantic, titled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All".

In her book, Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, and Family, Slaughter illuminates how the cultural shift that brought women into the workplace didn't shift the load we were already carrying, but added to it.

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And on the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, sponsored by Prudential, Slaughter tells Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety that the key to lessening the mental load of motherhood is doing less, and trusting our partners to do more.

According to Slaughter, while women in America "went from caregiving almost entirely to working and working for money and then still caregiving, men's roles have not changed."

She points out that while today's fathers definitely do more than previous generations, many are still held back by gender roles that minimize their contribution to their families by labeling their parenting efforts as "help," suggesting that mom is the default parent.

Raising our boys to be men who aren't afraid or ashamed to be caregivers will make the next generation more equal, but to make change for ourselves, today, Slaughter says we have to delegate. "Start small," she explains. "Let your husband take responsibility for planning birthday parties. That should be your first step."

If the pizza's cold, it's cold. If the house is a mess, it's a mess. But chances are, that won't be the case, Slaughter says. "Men can do this. Of course, they can do this right. If they can you know do all the things we do and trust them to do, they certainly can organize a child's birthday party."

She wants moms to let go of some of the caregiving responsibilities that are weighing us down, and relinquish our titles as captain of the household if we have a perfectly capable co-captain on deck. She believes the next phase of gender equality needs to see a shift in how fathers define themselves and their role at home. "The only way to get to equality is for them to be doing as much caregiving as we are doing breadwinning and ultimately it just not should be a gendered issue."

To hear more about Anne-Marie Slaughter's experiences in motherhood and her career listen to The Motherly Podcast, sponsored by Prudential, for the full interview.

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I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on 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 support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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