It's harder than ever before for families to get by on a single income

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Despite the rising rates of women in the workforce throughout the past century, many millennials grew up in a time where it still seemed like a mother's choice to work or stay at home. But as we start families of our own, the reality can be harsh: It feels nearly impossible to make ends meet on a single income.

So where does that leave women who want to be stay-at-home mothers? In a difficult position, says Erin Odom, a mother of four in North Carolina, who left her job shortly after her first child was born. "We pinched our pennies, I say, until they bled," Odom says of trying to get by on her husband's salary from teaching. The Odoms eventually sought help from a financial advisor, who looked through their income and expenses. "At the end of the day he said, 'Look, you guys don't have a spending problem. But you do have an income problem. You don't have enough money to live.'"

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They aren't alone: The fact is the rising cost of living in the United States continues to outpace inflation—which makes it difficult for young adults to build their bank accounts, let alone nest eggs for the future.

And more people are starting out in the hole: According to a 2014 report from the Pew Research Center, the likelihood of college students taking out loans grew by 40% between 1993 and 2012. Among that majority of students who did borrow, the standard amount of debt more than doubled during that time period to an average $26,885 for the class of 2011-2012.

While much has also been said about millennials' low rates of homeownership, that's yet another goal that is simply harder to obtain today. As United States Census Bureau data shows, the median home price in America in 1940 was $2,930. Adjusted for inflation, that should have been just over $30,000 by 2000. Instead it was $119,000—which jumped close to $200,000 by 2017.

The costs of other essentials are escalating, too, from health care ( average annual costs of $10,345 in 2016) to groceries (average weekly cost of $170 in 2017 for families with children) to rent (average monthly cost of $910 in 2017). Add to that the common expenses we have today that didn't exist just two decades ago—like cell phones, internet and streaming services—and it's little wonder that we need more money to stay afloat.

How this is driving more parents into the workforce

As expenses have been rising, so have the rates of two-income households. According to a 2015 report from the Pew Research Center, 60% of families had dual earners in 2012 versus just 25% in 1960.

For many reasons, this statistic is something to be celebrated: Women today now have more options and more empowerment in the ways they continue their careers after having children. As that same report shows, the more educated a woman is, the more likely she is to continue working after children—suggesting this is largely a decision of her own volition.

But what the statistics don't reflect is how many of those women would prefer to stay at home.

"Staying at home with your child can be an amazing and nurturing experience, but it can come at a financial cost," Jennifer E. Myers, certified financial planner and president of SageVest Wealth Management, tells Motherly.

That's no small consideration. According to a calculator developed by the Center for American Progress, a 30-year-old woman who makes $55,000 each year could expect to lose $539,795 by staying at home with a child for five years—due to the combination of lost wages, lost wage growth and lost retirement assets.

Between the immediate loss of income and that long-term dilution of family earnings for women who step back from the workplace while children are young, Myers says families really need to evaluate their financial priorities before making the decision.

Although she always imagined she would stay home, Kristin Rampton, a mother of one in Kansas, made the decision to continue working full-time as a teacher after her daughter's birth in order to have a job with family healthcare benefits, which weren't offered by her husband's job.

"I always really struggled when people just assumed that it was a choice that I made when really it wasn't like a choice," Rampton tells Motherly. "That doesn't mean that there's not joy in it, in that role. It just means that the reason women work is not necessarily because they want that career kind of lifestyle."

The rise of side gigs

For the first time in decades, the number of stay-at-home moms is back on the rise, but what this doesn't reflect are how many of those moms are actually earning incomes from home on a part-time basis.

Now among this group is Odom, who details her experience in her new book, You Can Stay Home With Your Kids: 100 Tips, Tricks and Ways to Make it Work on a Budget. But the beginning of her journey wasn't easy.

"Once we got into it we realized, 'Wow, it's going to take more money than we realized. What can we do?'" Odom tells Motherly, explaining the budget felt much thinner once their second, third and then fourth child came along.

The Odoms began by curbing spending as much as possible, such as with cutting cable, shopping at discount grocers and accepting they couldn't take as many vacations. But her husband's salary still didn't seem to go far enough and their meeting with the financial advisor served as a wake-up call.

"Did I go to work full-time outside the home? Did my husband change careers and still support us? Or could I learn how to create an income from home?" Odom says. "That's what I ended up doing to be able to afford to stay at home with my kids."

She now advises other families on ways to earn supplemental income from the home, whether with blogging, creating products for sale, offering lessons or more creative ideas that make use of individual strengths.

Coming to terms with today

For families who want to make it work with fewer work hours, Myers of SageVest Wealth Management says some "serious prioritization" should happen—as well as accounting for unexpected expenses in the budget.

"If saving for things like family vacations, retirement, college funding and more are strong objectives, then you need to set a budget that covers the day-to-day expenses, plus the bigger and longer-term items," Myers says. "This is where most budgets fail. Too often, people only focus on the monthly items, forgetting about new tires, braces, car repairs, home repairs, etc. These items become budget busters and infringe upon longer-term saving objectives."

Often, cutting out lattes or manicures—the "money saving tips" that are commonly suggested on places like Pinterest—only goes so far.

"If you need to cut back on expenses, the first thing to do is understand how much you need to cut required relative to your overall spending," Myers says. "If it's a larger amount, you need to be more aggressive beyond simply changing your cable service."

For parents who are reluctantly sent back into the workforce or are burning the midnight oil to make ends meet, licensed marriage and family therapist Heidi McBain says to think about what you are providing to the family rather than the ways reality is different from your expectations.

"Often people confuse quantity time with quality time. People can spend a lot of time in the same space as their kids, but be on their phone or emotionally tuned out," she tells Motherly. "However, if it's a shorter amount of time but the mom is totally focused on their kids, this makes the kids feel important and cared about, which is really the bigger goal here."

As a working mother with a growing daughter, Rampton also hopes her daughter will take note. "I also have spent a lot of time thinking about the example that I'm modeling for her just by being a teacher and loving on kids and working really hard to achieve goals and all of those things I think she'll see one day and she'll think, 'Oh, my mom works really hard.'"

And, in the short-term, Rampton says she finds peace in knowing this arrangement is best for her marriage as well as her child.

"I think about the situation we're in with our student loans, with healthcare. I had to weigh the costs and the benefits of me working on my marriage," she says. "It just really is the best thing for my child, to be able to provide these things for, and it's the best thing for our marriage."

The reality is that even with the number of two-income families on the rise, working motherhood might not be every mom's first choice—but that doesn't make it the wrong choice or even the forever choice. We're all just trying our best to discover what's right for our families and our futures, and that means finding the best work-life balance is always going to be a work in progress.

[Originally published on April 24th, 2018]

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Back in August the the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Contigo announced the recall of millions of Contigo Kids Cleanable water bottles—about 5.7 million of them.

Now, the CPSC and Contigo are recalling millions of water bottles and the replacement lids that were given to consumers as part of the August 2019 recall.

"Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled water bottles and the replacement lids provided in the previous recall, take them away from children, and contact Contigo for a free water bottle. Consumers who received replacement lids in the previous recall should contact Contigo for the new water bottle," the CPSC states.

Millions of Contigo Kids Cleanable water bottles were originally recalled after it became clear the silicone spout could pose a choking hazard.

"Contigo identified that the water bottle's clear silicone spout in some cases may detach from the lid of the water bottle," Contigo stated in a notice posted to its Facebook page back in August.

According to the CPSC, "Contigo [had] received 149 reports of the spout detaching including 18 spouts found in children's mouths" before the original recall.

Now, the CPSC reports "Contigo has received a total of 427 reports of the spout detaching including 27 spouts found in children's mouths."

All of the recalled water bottles have a black color spout base and spout cover.

This week Contigo expanded the recall. The original date range was for Contigo Kids Cleanable Water Bottle from April 2018 through June 2019. Now it is for bottles purchased through February 2020, and all the replacement lids.

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If you are looking for some alternative water bottles, here are a few of our favorites:

Hydro Flask

Hydro Flask features an easy-to-drink (and clean) top, a silicone bottom that won't scratch your furniture.

Motherly has tested these with a two-year-old and an eight-year-old and found these bottles are perfect for Pre-K to elementary school.

$29.95

CamelBak

The CamelBak is a big hit with little kids as it is easy to maneuver and it's a big hit with moms because it is easy to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher. CamelBak Eddy 12 oz Kids Vacuum Stainless Water Bottle

$14.99

Skip Hop

The designs on the Skip Hop stainless steel bottle keep kids happy and the silicone sleeve keeps the bottle from falling out of little hands! Bonus points for a flexible straw that is easy to clean!

$17.99


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

{A version of this story was originally posted August 27, 2019. It has been updated.]

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Most parents want to leave the planet a little better than we found it for our kids. But the urge to go green can sometimes clash with the reality of bringing up babies—it sometimes feels like you go through enough disposable diapers and wipes to fill up a small landfill on a monthly basis. But for parents who don't have the time or energy (or desire) to commit to cloth diapering, one company is offering a new alternative.

DYPER—an eco-friendly diaper subscription company—is launching the first ever compostable diaper service called REDYPER. Instead of ending up in a landfill (with 20 billion other diapers per year, according to the company), your baby's dirty diapers will be put to good use—such as helping to grow vegetation in highway medians, for example.

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Here's how it works: Along with your monthly shipment of diapers, subscribers receive bags and a specially designed box (one that the company says was engineered to Haz Mat shipping standards set by the United Nations). You'll fill up that box with your baby's dirty diapers, and when it's full, you send it back to the company with a prepaid shipping label. And don't worry—even the environmental impact of the shipping process is mitigated by carbon offsets purchased by the company.

From there, DYPER partners with TerraCycle to compost them. The company notes that its diapers are compostable at home—but that's a DIY project busy moms and dads might not be able to take on. REDYPER is a convenient solution for parents who want go green—even if they don't have time or space to do so.

And for parents mourning the loss of the company Brandless, DYPER represents a new way to do diaper subscription services. If you've got a DYPER subscription, you can opt into the new REDYPER program for free for a limited time (after that offer, it'll cost $39 a month).

You can learn more about the program on the company's website at dyper.com/redyper.

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Having a C-section may not have originally been part of a mom's birth plan—but they are often necessary, with nearly a third of all births in the United States classified as Cesarean deliveries.

C-section births are different than what many moms picture when they first learn they are pregnant, but they are also incredibly beautiful. C-sections save lives and should be celebrated. And whether a mom's C-section is an emergency, planned or elective it is still a valid and important birth experience.

That's why we at Motherly are committed to sharing C-section stories—so that mothers know what to expect and society learns to support women who are recovering from surgery while caring for a newborn.

These are the C-section stories the #TeamMotherly community loves and we are so grateful to the mamas who shared them.

1. This video perfectly explains the anatomy of a C-section 

This video shows you just what C-section surgery entails: cutting through seven layers of skin, fat, muscle and more to reach the baby. It's an incredible depiction of one of the most physically challenging moment's of a mama's life.

The creator of this viral video is Jesse Franks, a blogger, International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) advocate and mom of three. She previously discussed the video's popularity with Motherly and says she was inspired by a childbirth education tool she came across years ago .

"People have said that they are thankful it exists, that the actual surgical videos have been too gory for them to watch. One mom said that it was the first time she smiled while imagining her child's birth," Franks explained.

This video is incredible.

This video shows babies really do recognize mama right away 

If you've ever wondered whether newborns really know their mothers when they're born, this video will erase all doubt. It captures the magical first moments between a mom and her brand new baby girl. That little tiny arm clinging to mom's face is enough to melt your heart.

That baby knows her mama.

​The beauty of postpartum bodies is on full display in this brave post 

Whether you're rocking stretch marks, a C-section scar, a lingering linea negra or anything else, they're all just proof of one thing: you're one strong, courageous mama bear.

The caption says it all: "This is my postpartum. Some of you may see this and think, "Why is she sharing this", and others "Wow, thanks for sharing" and I'm sure lots of other thoughts in between. Want to know mine? "Wow, she has the courage to share a TRUTH so many different women face. Dealing with a scar of victory and loss." My staples are out now, but as you can imagine the healing and pains are not."

This post shows the beauty in a mama's C-section scar

"How can we teach our children to love themselves if we ourselves are constantly putting ourselves down?" It's not always easy, but being a powerful example of self-love and self-acceptance is one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids.

This mama is making sure her children (and fellow mamas on Instagram) know that a scar is nothing to hide.

"Teach your children that scars and marks are beautiful, and that they aren't to be ashamed of. Ever since she could point and touch, my daughter has always loved feeling my #csection scar," she writes.

Motherhood is a miracle, as we see in this photo 

Moms who've had C-sections often feel guilty and ashamed, but this gorgeous post has an important reminder: "However motherhood comes to you, it's a miracle." And perhaps an even more important reminder? Your baby won't care how they born—just that they're loved and cared for always.

"My scar may fade or it may not, but honestly, I don't mind. I hope it doesn't completely. It's a special reminder of just how lucky I am," this mama writes.

She continues her caption: "There are a few things I am incredibly passionate about, and helping other moms-to-be feel empowered about their c-section birth is one of them. I constantly receive messages and emails from moms who are scared, ashamed or overwhelmed about their c-section delivery and have only ever heard horror stories or been met with negativity. I feel so sad that they feel this way when they should be proud, excited and feel like the badass woman they are. I hope one day women everywhere don't have to feel the need to justify their birth and can proudly say they are a C-section mama without any guilt or shame."

"When I look at my scar now, I see my body's ability to heal, to survive." 

A C-section scar serves as a visible reminder of what can be one of the best and worst days in a mother's life. But this mama wants it to serve as a powerful reminder for something else: the physical ordeal you've overcome, and the path to accepting what led you there.

"When I look at my scar now, I see my body's ability to heal, to survive," this mama writes.

"I see journeys of both the physical and mental variety, with success waiting at the end—even if it wasn't the end I expected. More than anything, though, I see grace. The grace I finally learned to give myself when plans changed and I adjusted accordingly, emerging stronger than ever before."

This photo post tells a twin mama's surprise C-section story 

C-sections are common with twins, and this mama shows the pure joy that comes with holding two healthy newborns in your arms—even when you've just undergone a grueling surgery.

What started out as a regular appointment turned into a trip to the operating room and a healthy delivery, in all about three hours. Joyful posts like this one could go a long way toward easing the fears and disappointments of mom's who've been told they'll need a C-section.

"Before I knew it, I went from having 3 hearts beating inside me to the 3 of us bundled up enjoying skin-to-skin before we even rolled out of the O.R.," this mama writes.

​C-sections can be serious, but are seriously beautiful 

This mama shared the story of developing a life-threatening infection that could have killed both her and her baby had she not been whisked off for an emergency C-section in the nick of time. Your birth plan goes out the window when lives are on the line—but it's all worth it in the end.

"This photo is the only one taken that day. Definitely not the gorgeous birth photography I had planned for, but beautiful and special to me none the less," this mama writes.

It wasn't her plan, but it is still a beautiful birth story and a photo worth sharing and celebrating.

Clear drape C-sections are so powerful 

More and more hospitals are stepping up their efforts to make C-sections a better experience for moms. Some are using clear plastic sheets to keep the environmental sterile, while also letting parents get to experience the magical moment of their baby emerging from the womb.

As Motherly previously reported, photos like this one are "showing the world that this new kind of Cesarean delivery can be absolutely beautiful. By posting these pictures, mothers and birth photographers aren't just proving that C-section births are just as Insta-worthy as every other way women deliver, but they are also spreading awareness about clear drape C-sections, which are also known as "gentle Cesareans."

"Birth can bring a lot of big emotions." 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but it might as well be a million when you're looking at a gorgeous birth photo.

This is a moment in time we need to see and celebrate, because "just because a baby needs to be born via cesarean doesn't mean mama can't be a participant in her birth experience," says Motherly's Digital Education Editor, Diana Spalding, a midwife, pediatric nurse and founder of Gathered Birth.

According to Spalding, author of Motherly's upcoming book, The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama (April 2020), making C-sections personal is important: "We need to bring birth back to women. Women need options and choices, autonomy and respect. Becoming a mother is one of the most momentous events in a woman's lifetime—she deserves to have it be her best birth."

"This is 9 days into being a mother of two and it wasn’t by any means easy." 

There are lots of different reasons a mama-to-be might want or need a C-section. But they all share one thing in common: those reasons are no one's business, and they're certainly not up for judgment or discussion. This new mom-of-two had a condition that made a vaginal delivery impossible, and a C-section was far from "the easy way out."

A C-section is a birth, just like any other.

"You are unique and your story makes you who you are today. Your fertility, pregnancy, birth story and parenting styles are your decisions and experiences and no one else's," this mama writes.

Looking back on a C-section birth story 

What does this mama see when she looks at this photo? Not her scar, but the love and beauty between a mother and child. A scar may or may not fade over time, but that love only grows more visible.

"Instead of a smiling portrait of us, it's just a photo of me cradling you gently next to the stitched up #Csection dressing you came from. And here we are now. The C-section scar may still be there, but now I can barely hold you in my arms. You are so busy these days and even more beautiful as I've gotten to know you this past year. That smile of yours will change the world," this mama writes.

You are a warrior, mama

This video captures the joy, the fear and the love and the incredible strength woven into all these C-section stories,

Having a C-section is an incredibly emotional experience on a lot of different levels, but we hope that love, pride, and happiness outweigh anything else. Whether it was in your plans or not, you are absolutely a warrior.

News

Shannon Bird is a well known mom blogger and influencer with more than 100,000 Instagram followers. For years she's been known for her style and for her family's quirky adventures, but in 2020 the mom of five became internet famous for something else.

This mama called 911 in the middle of the night because she ran out of breastmilk and asked the police to bring her formula.

The criticism was swift, but Bird's story isn't just about when it is appropriate to call emergency services—it's about who has the privilege of being able to call 911, the lack of support for mothers in America, gender roles and the erosion of the village. In short, this isn't just a story about Shannon Bird calling 911. It's a story about a society that is failing mothers.

Here's what you need to know about this viral story:

This week Bird appeared on Fox News Channel's Daily Briefing, but the 911 call happened in January 

It's been weeks since certain corners of the internet blew up after literally watching Bird (via Instagram stories) call 911 because she ran out of breastmilk and had no formula. To Bird's followers, this is old news, but it's been making the news in recent days.

On February 17 Bird appeared on Fox News Channels' Daily Briefing with her youngest child to talk about why she called 911 when she ran out of breastmilk (and had no formula in her home). As the Utah mom previously told Fox 6, "I've never not had food for my newborn. It was really scary for me."

How this mom ended up calling 911 for formula

Those watching Bird's Instagram Stories on January 28 saw this unfold in real-time. Bird was recovering from some postpartum complications at the time and a medication she was taking may have been a factor in her declining milk supply.

She found herself home alone (her husband was out of town) with her infant and her four other young children (one of whom had a cast on a broken leg). She thought she had enough pumped breastmilk in the freezer to get her though the night, but eventually realized she didn't. She also didn't have any baby formula.

In her Instagram Stories she detailed how she called friends and family for help around 2 AM but no one picked up the phone. Eventually, she called 911, telling the operator she was scared and had no way to feed her 6-week-old baby.

"I've been calling neighbors and no one will answer," she said on the call. "I've never been in this predicament ever. My milk just literally dried out. This is my fifth kid and this has never happened."

Soon, the police were at her door.

The police brought this mom milk + formula in the middle of the night

After the 911 call, Bird posted video footage of police arriving at her home to her Instagram Stories (as her doorbell cam had captured the footage). It shows Officer Brett Wagstaff of the Lone Peak police department arrive at Bird's door with a gallon of milk.

Bird explained that what she needed wasn't regular milk, but baby formula. "We'll be right back with some formula for your baby — she's adorable," Wagstaff told Bird.

Soon enough he came back with baby formula from Walmart, telling Bird, "That's the same stuff we gave my daughter when she was first born, so hopefully it doesn't upset her stomach."

Officer Wagstaff and his fellow officer Konner Gabbitas have been hailed as heroes in the recent news coverage of this story (and they are) but many critics pointed out that Bird had the privilege of being a wealthy, white mom when she called 911, and wonder if the response would be the same from mothers of color or lesser means.

The backlash over privilege + a need for postpartum support 

Twenty-four hours after posting the Instagram Stories showing the police delivering baby formula, Bird announced she was taking a break from social media (she's since returned) which isn't surprising when you look at the comments on her accounts.

People were upset with her for using 911 the way she did, and upset with her husband for leaving her alone with five kids while he went out of town. When Fox News picked up the story the criticism continued.

"This is not what 911 is for... In some places, you'd get a ticket for misuse of emergency services. But, here is everyone enabling some more. Saying how heroic and brave this was. I can't even handle it," one Instagram user commented.

"Flip this narrative and you would get a drastically different response. #whiteprivilege," another noted.

That does need to be part of this conversation. There are many mothers in America who would not feel comfortable calling 911 during a parenting emergency due to institutional bias and racism. And that's not fair, because all mothers should be able to get help when they need it.

Many people have pointed out all the things Bird could have done differently in this situation—maybe she could have gotten her kids up and driven to Walmart herself, maybe she could have used Uber Eats or Instacart to order formula for delivery—but at that moment she couldn't. She was in crisis.

Calling 911 is an act of desperation, and it's a sign that the cultural expectations on women are causing a lot of maternal stress.

It takes time to recover from birth (especially if you have postpartum complications).

Breastfeeding can be very difficult (even if you've breastfed before with ease).

And when your baby is crying and you can't help them, that's terrifying.

Many commenters suggest this is a story about a woman abusing the 911 service, but maybe it's a story about a country where mothers in crisis feel they have no one to call. Maybe it's a story about how when the "village" erodes, mothers suffer the most. Maybe it's a sign that we need more postpartum supports, more education and more empathy for mothers.

[Motherly reached out to Shannon Bird for comment and will update this post if we receive a reply.]

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