Here’s the secret to ‘thriving,’ mama

You’re probably on the right track, according to researchers.

Here’s the secret to ‘thriving,’ mama

Of course we all want to thrive—the problem is just getting there during a uncertain, chaotic period of life that is new motherhood. But the good news is it’s possible to feel like you’re totally rocking life, even if a baby woke you up five times last night and your toddler is boycotting foods that aren’t made with processed cheese flavors: A new study from the University of Portsmouth outlines exactly what it means to “thrive” and how any of us can get there.

"Thriving is a word most people would be glad to hear themselves described as, but which science hasn't really managed to consistently classify and describe until now,” says lead researcher Dr. Daniel Brown in a media release. “It appears to come down to an individual experiencing a sense of development, of getting better at something and succeeding at mastering something.”


In other words, we’re thriving when we feel good about life, ourselves and our accomplishments. Of course, developing that feeling of thriving within oneself isn’t always easy—hence the whole life-coaching industry.

But Dr. Brown says there is a formula for “thriving.” It comes down to having some (or all—go, superstar!) of these traits:

  • Optimism
  • A sense of spirituality or religious grounding
  • Motivation
  • A willingness to take action
  • Flexibility
  • Social competence
  • A passion for learning
  • Confidence in self

According to Brown, you don’t have to be or do all those things at once. But if you manage to incorporate a couple of them into your attitude about life, you’re on your way to thriving.

The second list is more about the external factors in one's life. This means you have:

  • Opportunities
  • Support from family and bosses
  • A calm environment
  • A high degree of autonomy
  • Manageable challenges
  • Trust from others

If you check off boxes from both lists, then science says you are thriving. ?

Of course, you’re probably reading this and thinking, “A calm environment? Did I mention I’m a parent?” That’s completely fine. Again, the research shows you don’t need to meet all the criteria.

So go ahead and embrace your opportunities to foster great things in the lives of your children. That qualifies as thriving, too, mama!

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

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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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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