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Mothers don't want to just go back to 'normal'—they want better

85% of mothers do not believe that our society does a good job supporting them—and that statistic is from when we were just living normal life.

Mothers don't want to just go back to 'normal'—they want better

As the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on life as we know it, many are feeling desperate for a return to normalcy—but the problem is that normal is not good enough.

This pandemic has exacerbated everything that is wrong in our society. It has brought to the surface the very real problems that people live with on a daily basis—and now that we have seen them, there is no going back. Mothers, in particular, are finding that many of the struggles they contend with daily are beginning to be recognized by those who previously turned a blind eye, intentionally or otherwise.

So yes, of course, we want this pandemic to end—but we refuse to return to a normal that has never been okay.

We will no longer act like we do not have children when we go to work.

Amy Westervelt said it best: "We still ask women to work like they don't have kids and parent like they don't work." We feel guilty when we have to say no to late meetings in order to pick our kids up from daycare. We feel guilty when we can't make it to every school function because we have to go to work. Our culture has made the blending of career and parenthood incredibly difficult.

But the overnight disappearance of daycares, schools, nannies and family members who can help take care of children has forced us to acknowledge that both aspects of our lives happen simultaneously—and we don't have to feel guilty about it.

While we're on the subject, can we please stop saying that flexible work schedules or working from home aren't options? We've proven that they are options—and good ones. Allowing employees to have all facets of their lives matter should not just be a pandemic thing—it should be a way of life.

We will no longer pretend that caregiving doesn't matter.

Whether it's taking care of children, elderly parents or the sick, we are experiencing first hand how time-consuming and important that act of taking care of people is. We will never again say, "I am just a stay-at-home mom."

Caregiving is an incredibly needed role in our society—we all need to do a better job of recognizing its importance and taking care of the people that take care of people.

We will no longer accept that a person's right to healthcare is dependent on their type of employment.

Facing a pandemic is scary. Facing it without health insurance is a nightmare. There are roughly 27 million people in the United States who do not have health insurance. What happens when they get coronavirus? The economic repercussions of this shortcoming will be felt for generations.

More importantly, people will die because they cannot afford care—in one of the richest countries in the world. It's embarrassing and unacceptable.

We will no longer ignore the plight of suffering women.

In the United States, approximately 24 people per minute are the victims of rape, stalking or physical violence by an intimate partner; four out of five of them are female.

And most of them are trapped at home with the aggressor right now.

We failed to protect them, and now we can't do anything about it.

We will no longer tolerate the assumption that some jobs are more important than others.

We seem to have accepted that some jobs are seen as more valuable than others—we show this by offering people in those jobs things like consistent salaries and access to severance pay, health insurance and paid time off.

But what really makes the people in those jobs more deserving than people in other jobs?

As this pandemic has helped us see, every job out there is essential—especially the ones that are not even recognized as jobs (like caretaking—review the third item on this list again).

And this impacts women more than men. According to António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, "Nearly 60% of women around the world work in the informal economy, earning less, saving less, and at greater risk of falling into poverty. As markets fall and businesses close, millions of women's jobs have disappeared."

How one devotes their occupational energy should not determine how well we take care of them during a crisis.

We will no longer ignore that systemic racism impacts people in every possible corner of existence.

Racial disparities are woven into the fabric of our society—the pandemic is making it so much worse.

Black women, who are already disproportionately impacted by maternal morbidity and mortality, are now facing the possibility that they will have to give birth alone—without an advocate or support person.

People of color need to choose which fear they are most willing to take on: The fear of not wearing a face mask in public and getting COVID-19, or the fear of wearing a face mask in public and being treated as a threat.

Reports are also starting to come in that black people are dying at higher rates from the virus.

Racism in this country has always been deadly. The pandemic means it's happening even faster.

We will no longer dismiss the importance of caring for mothers.

We started this pandemic at a deficit. I'd argue that this is true for most people in the world, but since moms are my specialty, I'll focus there: 85% of mothers do not believe that our society does a good job supporting them—and that statistic is from when we were just living normal life.

Mothers entered this pandemic burnt out, and now we are asking them to give even more. We will see the repercussions of this for years to come. Perhaps moving forward, we can do (a lot) more to support mothers so that they can be healthy enough to do the work we ask of them.

We will no longer take for granted the helpers.

The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of so many people and job roles that are taken for granted regularly. Of course, we are incredibly grateful to the medical and hospital workers right now. And we also realize how many other helpers there are in our day-to-day lives: sanitation workers, retailer and restaurant employees, mail and package deliverers, and so many others.

We owe them our appreciation always, not just during a pandemic.

We will no longer disregard the vulnerable.

When the pandemic started, how many times did we attempt to comfort ourselves by saying, "It's just going to affect the old and immunocompromised—the rest of us will be just fine"?

Well, first of all, that is not the case; young and healthy people are impacted by the virus, too. We see that vulnerability is a commonality we share, not something that separates us into tiers of societal importance. We are all in this together, and that prevailing "us vs. them" mentality is over.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." We did a bad job of this when the pandemic started—and that ends now.

So no, we will not return to normal.

When this ends—and it will—we will move forward, not backward.

We will remember.

We will help.

We will respect.

And we will love.

We are better than this. Let's fix it, before it's too late.

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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