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The surprising side effect of getting a babysitter 🎉

As parents, it's natural to want to hold our children close—protecting them from danger, helping them feel loved and ensuring they are raised according to our standards. That can explain why moms of babies say they do roughly 74% of the "parenting" in their homes, according to a new survey from Plum Organics.


At the same time, we want to raise children who have confidence and independence. So, what to do when the desire to hold them close seems to conflict with the desire to empower them? Put the tendency to be a "maternal gatekeeper" in check, says Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity and an expert for Plum Organic's "Keeping it Together" campaign.

For parents of little ones, this doesn't mean sending them out to play unattended. But, rather, it's letting your child know they can be attended to by someone other than you.

"They need to know that they can survive if you're not around," Perel tells Motherly. By doing this, you are fostering the trait of resilience. And, as an added perk, the person you are entrusting to care for your child will feel more empowered, too. That's why Perel is a big advocate for moms taking a night or weekend away.

"Let your partner actually figure it out on their own and know that the system survives even when you are not there," she says.

Perel adds that if it makes you feel "bad" everyone was in fact okay without you, that indicates your personal value system needs some attention. She explains, "If your child keeps experiencing that you need them to need you, that you almost need them more than they may even need you... that is an emotional burden that you are putting on a child."

This doesn't mean it's wrong for your primary identity to be that of a parent. But, adds Perel, the role of a parent is to be attuned to the child's needs, not to project your own onto them. "It's not to have a merging of identities, it's to make the space necessary for your child's identities to develop," she says. "And that's what gets confused."

Few people set out to be helicopter parents—especially with mounting research showing the detrimental effects overbearing parenting can have on children. The struggle comes when we know we have our children's best interests at heart and want to make sure they are set up for success.

The catch is that requires autonomy. Says Perel, "In order for a child to try, they need to know that there are things they can do for themselves."

That starts with you doing something for yourself. Go on and plan that girls' weekend, mama.

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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.

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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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