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Scrolling through the photos on Kwandaa Roberts' Instagram feels like watching an episode of Fixer Upper. The interior design enthusiasts' style is similar to Joanna Gaines', right down to the shiplap and strategically placed copy of The Magnolia Journal. But Roberts' fixer isn't in Waco—it's in a walk-in-closet turned mom cave, and, she bought it at Target.


Yes, the amazing interiors featured on Roberts' account are that of a dollhouse. This mom's miniature project proves that taking a few minutes of 'me-time' for mom at the end of a busy day can turn into a beautiful thing.

tinyhousecalls

Roberts has always had a passion for interior design, but she doesn't want to be redecorating her own house every six months, and as a busy OB-GYN and mom to 3-year-old Eden and 5-year-old Noah, she wouldn't have time to anyway. “When I am home I try to be totally present for my kids," she tells Motherly.

Mamas know how fulfilling a busy day can be, but we also know it can also leave your tank pretty empty by the time the kids are in bed. That's why, for Roberts, getting her design fix through a little late night HGTV isn't really an option.

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“I'll do all the stuff, clean up, put them to bed, and I'll say, 'I'm gonna watch one thing', and then I don't because I fall right asleep," she explains, “So my 'Mommy time' doesn't really become 'Mommy time.'"

Roberts ended up finding a way to stay awake during her 'me time' last Christmas, when she bought a dollhouse for Eden. The house was originally pink and purple, and Roberts wanted to give it a more muted makeover. “I painted it and put up wallpaper and I had a lot of fun doing it," she says.

That house design was toddler-friendly, but when Roberts saw a Fixer Upper inspired dollhouse at Target, part of the Gaines' Hearth & Hand with Magnolia line, she knew she could make the wooden shell into a design masterpiece.

“I just started working on it at nighttime and it was just for me and just for fun," she recalls, adding that because she was doing an activity she didn't feel as tired as she would in front of the TV.

Research indicates that creative leisure activities like Roberts' are good for our health, protecting us from stress and helping us at work. But statistics show many moms have trouble finding the time for 'me time.'

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A 2015 survey by Edison Research found only 23% of mothers say they “put in a lot of effort to keep up with their own hobbies or activities." Just over half said they do make an effort, but have to share their 'me time' with other priorities. Twenty percent of the moms surveyed say they put in no effort at all because their own hobbies and interests are not a priority.

According to Pew, 60% of working moms say they don't have enough 'without the kids' time to pursue hobbies and other interests. About half of moms who are not employed say the same thing.

“When we don't take time to nurture ourselves and indulge personal interests, it's easy to lose touch with who we are in the world," psychotherapist Cherilynn Veland, author of Stop Giving It Away: How to Stop Self-Sacrificing and Start Claiming Your Space, Power and Happiness told Psychology Today.

Veland notes that emotional well-being is closely tied to physical well-being, and if moms don't take time to relax and reenergize, we can end up at greater risk for psychological and physical health conditions.

“As women, we've been socialized to think about and care for others first. That can be a good thing in moderation. But taken to the point of self-neglect, it can lead to feeling overwhelmed, resentful and stressed out — and that's not helpful for either ourselves or those around us," she says.

Taking time to do something for you, whether it's working on a dollhouse or knitting or just kicking back with a full-sized copy of The Magnolia Story, can actually make you a better mom, and in Roberts' case, it's been life-changing.

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She'd never used Instagram before her co-workers encouraged her to post pictures of her mini fixer-upper, and now she's getting messages and making connections with people from all over the world.

“Kenya and Australia and Romania—I'm huge in Italy right now," she explains, adding that she's thrilled to hear from people everywhere who've been inspired by her creation and are dusting off their own dollhouses and other crafty hobbies.

Roberts was even more thrilled to see the woman who inspired it all, Joanna Gaines, noticed her tiny work and gave her a big shout out on social media.

Roberts tells Motherly her best friend is a huge Joanna fan, and she is too (obviously). She says “it's so exciting" to see her work featured by the Fixer Upper star and fellow busy mom. After all, if anyone knows what it's like to balance a passion for design and family time, it's Jo.

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Taking to the friendly skies with an infant in tow doesn't always feel so...friendly. That's doubly true when you're traveling during the busy holiday season. But while we can't help waylay the dirty looks you might get for bringing your baby on board (just ignore them, mama!), we can help you feel prepared to tackle whatever your little one throws at you in flight.

Whether you're embarking on your child's first flight for the holidays or are seasoned jet-setters, here are six products that will help guarantee smoother sailing.


1. Tru Niagen

If you always find yourself feeling off post-trip, we have a solution. Before taking off, give your body a boost by adding Tru Niagen to your vitamin regimen. This innovative supplement increase your body's NAD levels, a vital resource for energy and repair at the cellular level. Winter woes, you've met your match.

Tru Niagen, Chromadex, $40

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2. Sago Mini Toys 

Keep your child entertained before and during flights with a fun toy designed to promote creative thinking. The Pillow Playsets from Sago Mini fold up for air-travel (we especially love the Harvey's Doctor Office!) and the unfold to help keep little ones distracted during any delays. Simply toss a couple in your carry-on to break out whenever a potential tantrum strikes.

Harvey's Doctor's Office Pillow Playset, $39.99

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3. BABY B'AIR

When traveling with a baby, safety is tantamount. Unfortunately, options to secure in-lap infants are limited. Which is exactly what inspired founder Greg Nieberding to create the BABY B'AIR Flight Vest, a soft cotton body and nylon strap harness.

Not only does the BABY B'AIR Flight Vest prevent dangerous movement or slips during travel, but it will also save you time in security check because it doesn't require an extra scan the way car seats often do.

BABY B'AIR Flight Vest, babybair, $39.95

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4. E-Cloth

If you've read those articles about the number of bacteria on your seat's tray table, you're probably thinking twice about letting your little one touch any surface on board. Rather than dousing the entire cabin in a strong chemical cleaner, simply toss a cloth from the E-Cloth 8-Piece Home Cleaning Set in your carry-on.

These genius cloths use just water to "charge" the microscopic voids between and within the cloth's fibers, thereby attracting particles of dirt, bacteria, and mold when you wipe a dirty surface. After your flight, simply wring the cloth out in clean water to release the nasty stuff and the cloth is ready to use again. (We also love it for cleaning surfaces in a hotel room!)

E-Cloth 8-Piece Home Cleaning Set, $39.99

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5. SnoofyBee Changing Pad

One of the biggest challenges of traveling with babies? Keeping them from touching all.the.things. Never is this truer than on public changing tables and surfaces. But thanks to the Snoofybee, you can carry a clean surface with you while also keeping little hands contained from touching anything unseemly.

Bonus: The pad's redirection barrier can also put a stop to baby's who are fascinated with touching their own dirty diapers. Because blech.

SnoofyBee, SnoofyBee, $29.99

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6. Pediped Shoes

Give your child some comfy kicks to rock in the terminal (while they hopefully burn off any extra energy before boarding). Pediped shoes are designed for safe foot development and made from soft, pliable materials that your baby won't try to rip off the moment you set them down—and many are machine washable, meaning you can quickly wash away any airport grime when you get home.

Pediped Shoes, PedipedOutlet.com, $19.99 and up

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With the many blessings of multiple kids, comes the challenge of needing even more gear—gear that's guaranteed to go the extra mile. With storage space already at a premium, you can probably get away with some new baby clothes. But multiplying the number of strollers in the garage? That's not going to fly.

But with the new Nuna DEMI™ grow stroller, "less is more" is truly the answer to your problems.

1. It has every seat arrangement you could need

Strollers can be complex enough when you only need one seat. Add in another baby and shopping for a perfect fit can feel like enough to make you spend the next few years at home. But, with the Nuna DEMI™ grow stroller, you don't have to know exactly how your kids will want to sit for the rest of time. It offers 23 modes, making for clever convertibility, for whichever way your family may grow. Simply add to DEMI grow as you need.

2. You’re spared the stroller wrestling match

When you're toting around two kids, the last thing you need is an uncooperative stroller. With the Nuna DEMI™ grow, you can do a remarkable number of things with just a touch (or less than that if you're really creative). From a one-hand adjustable calf support, to one-touch brake to easy folding it up, you don't need to call backup just to get back into the car from your outing.

Bonus: The no-rethread harness on the compatible Nuna PIPA™ series car seats enables you to easily raise or lower the straps without the headache of unhooking and rerouting them each time your baby goes through a growth spurt.

3. It ensures comfort—no matter who is sitting where

Not only are there 23 different modes, but each seat is made to feel like the "best" one. With options to recline, kick up their feet and keep the sun out of their eyes with UPF 50+ canopies, you won't have to referee the "but I want to sit there" battle. (Moms of toddlers, you'll know why this is such an important detail.)

4. It’s designed for year-round adventures

For any mama who has been struck with fear from the sight of a bumpy sidewalk, worry no more. With ultra-tough, foam-filled tires and custom dual suspension, the Nuna DEMI™ grow stroller is designed to tackle just about any terrain all while keeping your little ones comfy in their seats. The seats themselves were also designed for maximum comfort, no matter the temperature: With an all-season seat, the padded exterior can easily be removed to expose the breathable mesh lining when you're out and about on hot days.

5. You don’t have to predict the future of your family

When researching and buying a new stroller, it can feel like you need to have exact plans for the future of your family mapped out.

But with the Nuna DEMI™ grow, you don't need to worry about all those plans right now. Whether you just need one seat, two seats, bassinet or car seats, this single stroller has you covered and grows as you need it.

That way, you can worry less about predicting your family's future—and enjoy exactly where it is today even more.

This article was sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

As parents we do the best we can to keep our kids safe while also letting them experience the world, and sometimes this involves assessing risks and deciding what is appropriate for our individual families.

Every parent makes different choices based on their family's values and needs, and there's no reason for mom shaming—or in this case dad shaming—as Pink recently reminded the world via Instagram.

Pink's defense began when her husband, motocross pro Carey Hart, posted a pic of himself on a motorbike with son Jameson, who is nearly two. Internet commenters criticized Hart's decision and his parenting, suggesting that he was putting Jameson in danger by having him on the bike.

In the photo, Hart and Jameson are sitting on the bike while it is still, but some Instagram users were still very critical of Hart's decision to have Jameson up on the bike with him. Some suggested he was endangering his son, and others stated he was wearing the wrong kind of helmet.

After the controversy, Pink posted a photo of Jameson eating chocolate on her own Instagram, joking, "Chocolate is good for babies, right? Help me Instagram, we can't possibly parent without you."

The joke set some commenters off, reigniting the online debate about Hart's parenting skills. "With your husband being in the spotlight so often with his complete lack of regard for proper care or concern at times with your kids, this comment isn't funny, albeit Jameson is adorable, one Instagram user wrote. "Your husband, I'm sorry, lacks the responsibility your kids need in his care."

Pink replied to the commenter, asking (fairly) how this person could feel like they could judge Hart as a father when they'd only seen him parenting through social media posts. "How often have you spent time with my husband?" Pink asked the commenter. "How often have you watched him parent?"

Through that comment, Pink reminded the world that what we see on social media is just one slice of our very complex and busy lives. It's impossible to really know the thought and care each individual puts into the choices they make for their children.

We make choices for our kids every day and they're going to be different from the choices of the parent next door or the next person in our Instagram feed. Our parenting choices are informed by our individual experiences, our beliefs, and everything else that makes us ourselves, everything that makes us unique.

No parent is perfect, but as parents we are perfectly positioned to choose what is appropriate for our individual children.

And we can also make the choice to respect those who parent differently than we do. No shaming necessary.

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The color experts at Pantone recently named the pinky-orange hue Living Coral as the color of the year for 2019, but the Editors of Nameberry have some other shades in mind for 2019. Like Pantone, though, they're predicting nature-inspired colors won't just be big at the paint store, but at the playground as well.

Yes, natural colors and jewels-inspired hues (along with animal names) are predicted to be big trends for baby names in the coming year.

Nameberry's editors have been tracking the 2018 trends to predict which names parents will be picking in 2019, and the palette is more muted than Pantone's for sure. According to Nameberry's editors, parents are shifting away from the intense hues (like Scarlett, Ruby and Poppy) toward more chill tones.

These are Nameberry's picks for color-inspired names for 2019:

  1. Ash
  2. Fawn
  3. Grey/Gray
  4. Ivory
  5. Lavender
  6. Lilac
  7. Mauve
  8. Moss
  9. Olive
  10. Sage

You don't have to look to the crayon box for baby name inspo to be on trend for next year—you could also look in your jewelry box. According to Nameberry, jewel and gem-inspired names are surging for both boys and girls and some can even be gender neutral.

Namberry is betting some precious babies will be getting these precious names next year:

  1. Amethyst
  2. Emerald
  3. Garnet
  4. Jasper
  5. Jet
  6. Onyx
  7. Opal
  8. Peridot
  9. Sapphire
  10. Topaz

It's not just colors and gems from nature that are trending, but animal-inspired names, too. On-trend parents might look to the forest for more name inspiration in 2019.

According to Nameberry, these animal-based names are set to trend in 2019:

  1. Bear
  2. Falcon
  3. Fox
  4. Hawk
  5. Koala
  6. Lion
  7. Lynx
  8. Otter
  9. Tiger
  10. Wolf

Some of the names Nameberry has predicted here (like Jasper, which was within the official top 200 baby names of 2017, according to the Social Security Administration,) are already fairly popular, while others (like Koala and Bear) are so statistically unpopular right now they aren't even charting on the SSA's baby name list.

Time will tell which of these nature-inspired names can take on Liam and Emma in the near future and whether Coral can go from being Pantone's 2019 pick to parents' pick in 2020.

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Times are changing Britain's monarchy and you don't have to look further than the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's 2018 Christmas card for proof.

The Kensington Palace posted Will and Kate's annual holiday card photo on Instagram and it is candid, casual and absolutely perfect.

Shot by photographer Matt Porteous, the family shot captures the royal kids, Prince George, 5, Princess Charlotte, 3, and 8-month-old Prince Louis being absolutely adorable while sitting on a tree with mom and dad.

The vibe is super casual, with Prince George standing on one foot and Prince William leaving the top couple buttons of his plaid shirt undone.

Prince Louis is a total star in tights and shorts.

While this is hardly the first candid shot of the royal family, this year's Christmas card is a pretty big departure from last year's, which was shot further in advance than this one and was more formal in every way.

We're betting that next year, when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be celebrating their first Christmas as parents, their vibe will probably be more candid than staged as well.

This year the couple chose to use a snap from their May 19 wedding as their Christmas card. The black and white image by photographer Chris Allerton isn't exactly Christmasy, but it is definitely romantic.

Times are changing for the monarchy but we hope the Christmas card tradition stays the same because chances are Meghan and Harry's baby will be just as adorable as Prince Louis (and with a spring due date they will be at peak cuteness come Christmas card season).

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Finding the person you want to spend your life with is never easy, but when you're a parent, there's an extra layer of consideration. You're not just choosing the person you will spend lazy Sundays (and hurried weekday mornings) with—you're choosing the person your children will spend them with, too.

And when that person has children of their own, things get even more complicated. Blending two families isn't easy, but it can be beautiful, as Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez prove.

Each half of this power couple has two children each, and they're doing their best to make their relationship work not just for each other, but for those four children, too.

"We love each other and we love our life together," Lopez recently told People. "I was so loving to his kids and he was so loving and accepting of mine, and they embraced each other right away. [It was] 'I get a new bonus brother and sisters to hang out with all the time and it's nice.'"

A Rod agrees, telling People: "Our kids have become best friends and that keeps us both grounded and appreciative."

Here are five ways J Lo and A-Rod are totally #parentinggoals when it comes to balancing the needs of their blended family.

1.They bring the kids together

Lopez and Rodriguez each spend time with their own children, but they also bring all four kids (Lopez shares 10-year-old twins Maximilian and Emme with her ex, Marc Anthony, and Rodriguez shares daughters Ella, 10, and Natasha, 13, with his ex, Cynthia Scurtis) together for fun family outings, like ice cream dates and basketball games.

Research indicates that about 14% of kids in step families don't feel like they belong in their family, and report that their family doesn't have fun together. By bringing the kids together for fun family times, Lopez and Rodriguez are encouraging a sense of family belonging outside the relationship they have with each of the kids individually. Studies suggest an adolescents' sense of family belonging is linked to their overall well-being. So this ice cream date is actually healthy, in a way.

​2. They consider their children's other parents family, too

If their Instagrams are any indication, Rodriguez and Lopez have a great time hanging out with their blended family, but they understand that their children have other family members, too, and they don't mind hanging out with them.

A recent Instagram post proves Rodriguez considers Marc Anthony #famila, and that's how it should be.

Studies show supportive communication between a parent and their ex-partner's new partner is good for the family as a whole. Likewise, when the relationship between a parent and a stepparent is antagonistic, relationships beyond their own stuffer. It's truly better if a parent's co-parent and their current partner can hang.

3. They’re a united front with their co-parents

Rodriguez considers J Lo's ex family, and he also doesn't forget that (despite legal disagreements) his ex-wife plays a big role in his daughter's lives. So he celebrates their big co-parenting moments, like parent-teacher night.

Lopez, too, celebrates the times she and Anthony get together for their twins' big moments, recently telling Kelly Rippa the two are now in a really great place, and basically best friends. "The kids get to spend time with the two of us more together and see us working together," she said."It's just good for the whole family," says Lopez.

4. They make time for each other without the kids

Having all four kids together at once looks like fun, but hanging out with three 10-year-olds and a teen also sounds like it could be a little exhausting. That's why the couple takes time to unwind, without the kids, when they can.

As J Lo wrote in a recent Instagram post, "it's the lil quiet moments that matter the most."

5. They're doing it their way

Back in April Lopez was asked whether or not she and A Rod would be getting married soon (thanks to a Spanish language single "El Anillo," which is Spanish for "The Ring"), she told People, she's not in any rush, despite the song.

"I've done that before. I'm a little bit more grown up now, and I like to let things take their natural course," she said. "I know people are going to say that… we are really kind of good for each other and are really having the best time, and our kids love each other and all that."

[A version of this story was originally published July 12, 2018.]

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