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101 Things You Don’t Need to Sacrifice When You Have Kids

Having kids doesn’t put your personal journey on hold. It makes it more intentional.


Here are 101 things you don’t have to give up just because you became a parent.There are so many more things to add. What do you keep on your list?

  1 | Amazing coffee. 

Or coffee time.

 2 | Sex. 

Parenting doesn’t mean giving up spontaneity or intimacy. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Check out Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex and Parenthood.

 3 | Slang. 

 4 | Jeans that don’t make your butt look ugly. 

Denim interventions for moms and dads everywhere.

 5 | Sleep. 

I fully admit to lying on the bathroom tile weeping in the middle of the day when my daughter was five-weeks-old and had woken me up round the clock every 90 minutes to poop or nurse.

But this is a temporary situation. Thanks to Dr. Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, I’ve managed to parent and sleep well most of the time since my daughter was an infant. If there’s one book you must read before giving birth, this is it. Too late? Read the science-backed Ultimate Guide for Parents Who Desperately Need Sleep for other quick tips.

 6 | Sleeping in. 

No, you’re not going to sleep in every day. But you CAN sleep in at least once or twice a week. Our daughter has learned to dress, get her breakfast, and entertain herself weekend mornings since she was three-years-old thanks to Parenting on Track.

 7 | Sarcasm. 

 8 | Listening to good music. 

You don’t have to sacrifice listening to your favorite bands when you have kids. Toss out the KidzBop and ROCKABYE BABY! Do you want to raise kids with good or shitty taste in music? Go ahead and throw on your David Bowie or Neil Young album, anything but singing chipmunks.

 9 | Counseling. 

If you need it, make the time for it. Angela Arsenault explains why Couples Therapy Will Make You Better Parents.

 10 | Sexy high heels. 

My five-foot self stands by this.

 11 | Self-care. 

You’re not doing yourself, your relationship or your kids any favors if you don’t take care of yourself too.

 12 | A great car. 

You don’t need a minivan. You don’t. Here are nine family cars for moms and dads who still love driving.

 13 | Friendships with people who don’t have kids. 

 14 | Listening to rap music or hip-hop in the car.  

Okay, so maybe you’re not going to blast any NWA or 2 Live Crew song without screening. But it’s totally doable. Start with curated hip hop songs for kidsRap Clean Enough for Kids: Top 10 Kid-friendly Artists and Albums, or Clean Hip-Hop Music by Common Sense Media.

 15 | Ordering and eating wings like a fool. 

 16 | Camping. 

Glamping makes it easier than ever for parents to camp with their kids. Take some advice from Why I Unapologetically Love Car Camping.

 17 | Spontaneity. 

Routines work for kids, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix it up every once in awhile. Launch an unexpected indoor snowball fight with all the rolls of toilet paper stocked in the hall closet on your family. Serve ice cream for dinner on a warm summer night. Surprise your partner with a babysitter and a date, tickets to a show, or a mini-getaway. Changing it up makes for lifelong memories.

 18 | Naps. 

 19 | Alone time.  

 20 | Dating as a single parent. 

Apps and online dating make it easier than ever for single parents to prioritize and date in a way that works for them and their kids. I was able to remain the center of my daughter’s world and date for four years as a single mom. If you’re seeking some advice, dating coach and single mom Laurel House has great tips for moms and Men’s Health provides  ten research-based tips for single dads.

 21 | Being immature sometimes. 

This is why we have kids people. It gives us an excuse.

 22 | Dinner parties. 

Hire one or two babysitters to entertain and feed the kids in one area of the house, while parents enjoy a meal in peace in the other. Every parent pitches in to cover the cost.

 23 | Dancing. 

 24 | Road trips.  

Learn what to pack for food while on the road or why you might want to buy a VW Westfalia and hit the road with your family.

 25 | Flying & Travel. 

Take advantage of those free flights while your kids are ages 0-2. Screw all the dirty looks. Kids are human beings too. Nowadays more airports sport kid spaces for layovers and kid-friendly foods. Here are 50 Ways to Entertain a Kid on an Airplane.

These two parents traveled around the world twice with their young kids. Not saying you have to aim for that, but it’s never been easier to travel – with or without kids.

 26 | Nice furniture. 

Yes, you can. Not only that, but a lot of modern kid furniture is pretty stylish too.

 27 | Eating Healthy.  

My favorite go-to site for healthy recipes is Eating Well. Check out Five Fast Go-to Favorite Recipes, Breakfast Tips for Real-life Weekday Mornings, and The Fail-safe Dinner Solution Your Whole Family Will Love too. Lifehacker curates the five best meal planning apps.

 28 | Skateboarding. 

Do you want to be the parent who sits on the sidelines? Or do you want to be the parent who shreds and has fun too? Read about how skateboarding helps develop a growth mindset in kids and grownups.

 29 | Taking risks. 

If you want your kids to take risks, you need to take them too.

 30 | Pranks. 

I’m not a prankster. My partner is. He’s taught my daughter the art of pranking too. I’m outnumbered. It makes life fun. Here are some April Fool’s Day Pranks to Play on Your Kids and April Fool’s Day Prank for Kids to Play on Grownups.

 31 | Red lipstick. 

 32 | Changing careers. 

I know the fear of changing careers with kids, the fear of losing healthcare and disrupting your family’s life. Don’t get trapped in a job you hate if you have the power to change it. You’ll be a happier, better parent for it. If you don’t settle for less than you deserve, your kids won’t too.

 33 | Lingerie. 

 34 | Reality TV. 

If this is your guilty pleasure, there are some great family-friendly reality shows out there. We watch Master Chef Junior and The Amazing Race with our kid. It IS possible to watch kid-friendly reality TV and learn some valuable lessons at the same time.

 35 | Guys’ Night Out.  

 36 | Girls’ Night Out.  

 37 | Fine Art Museums. 

Kids are no longer isolated in one spot in the museum. These days many museums have spots for families to rest and play in multiple galleries and floors. Here are tips for looking at art with your kids.

 38 | Rock climbing. 

It’s not just for grown-ups. There are many places that cater to kids and families too.

 39 | Being a rock star. 

There’s a reason why there are so many interviews with musicians on Parent Co. Check out interviews on parenting with Guster’s Ryan Miller, punk pioneer Bobby Hackney from A Band Called Death, Bobby Hackney Jr. from Rough Francis, songwriter Laura Veirs, singer-songwriter Shannon Hawley, musician and farmer Chris Dorman, and Kurt Vile. Have I made my point yet?

 40 | Video games. 

 41 | Putting your relationship first. 

The common narrative is put your kids first. Put your relationship first. You will be a stronger team, better parents, and you’ll teach your kids what a healthy relationship looks like. Read more from Psychology Today.

 42 | Feeling sexy. 

 43 | Dinners out. 

I’m talking screen-free meals people! Restaurants without kid menus and nuggests! If you start when your kids are young, they will learn early how to behave and engage with others in a restaurant.

 44 | Concerts. 

Music is a big part of our family’s life. Many cities and towns have outdoor concerts perfect for testing the waters with kids. But don’t forget to feed your adult needs too. We plan an annual kid-free trip to Osheaga in Montreal. It’s three days where we can binge on music and dance like fools like we did in our 20s.

 45 | Skinny dipping. 

 46 | Learning new things. 

There’s nothing I hate more than hearing parents say, “I wish I did _________________when I was younger.” Take a drum or ballet lesson. Learn to surf. It’s not too late. Take a class and meet new people, or take a class online. 

 47 | Creative time. 

Every Sunday morning, we have the option of uninterrupted, creative time as a family. My partner and I model taking creative time with our daughter. It’s fostered a love of creating and making in her as well. Read 9 Ways Busy Parents Can Reignite a Creative Practice and 3 Women Share How Their Creative Work Evolved with Motherhood.

 48 | Living in the city. 

 49 | Snowboarding or skiing. 

Every Saturday for eight weeks, we join ten other families at one of our local resorts. Some of us ski. Some of us ride. Our kids all take lessons. It’s the perfect balance of alone time with your partner, socializing with friends, and taking runs with your kids. It makes winter more bearable. Check out How to Ski with Kids and the Top 5 Ski Resorts for Families.

 50 | Volunteering. 

There’s always time to give back, and there are opportunities to work together as a family too. Volunteermatch.org matches volunteers with organizations if you’re looking for a place to start.

 51 | Junk food. 

 52 | Reading.  

Here’s a suggestion for how to read 50 books per year.

A subscription to the blinkist allows you to get the condensed version of nonfiction books. Start modeling reading with your kids early, and set up a routine for silent reading time. Some families do this after dinner or on a weekend morning.

It’s good for kids to “read” books even when they can’t read words. Boston University Medical Center has great suggestions for reading with kids ages 0-3. Start the habit when kids are young, and you’ll get to binge on your favorite reads too.

 53 | Audiobooks.  

These days you can access hundreds of audiobooks at most local libraries using the OverDrive app. Books not appropriate for little ears can be listened to on wireless headphones while working out, doing yard work or cleaning. Audible is another solid source to find audio books and earn free credits for more.

 54 | Podcasts. 

 

We also use wireless headphones to listen to podcasts with adult content all the time while doing chores or cleaning. Kids can listen to podcasts too. BrainsOn! episodes provide new learning for kids and adults. 99% Invisible will make you see the world from a different perspective, and some episodes are kid-friendly. Some recent ones we’ve listen to with our kid are Inflatable Men, The Color of Money, There is a Light that Never Goes Out, and Edge of Your Seat. Mystery Show is another podcast that’s great for curious kids and grownups. Kotter and Belt Buckle are kid-friendly.

 55 | Alcohol. 

 56 | Exercise. 

Playing with your kids often doubles as healthy exercise. Ellyn Ferriter shares 5 Kid-Friendly Winter Activities that Double as a Workout. Fitness Blender has great free online workouts you can do at home when the time’s convenient for you. I swear by Barre3 workouts online workouts that are $10 a month. Even as a single mom, I invested in a gym membership with a daycare. It was a great way for me to get some alone time and de-stress a few days a week.

Now I commute two hours a day to work at a full-time job, so I often have to get my fitness in when I can. I eat while working at my desk and take a walk in lieu of a sit-down lunch. I workout at home a lot – don’t stay stationary while watching TV much anymore. Even 10-15 minutes a day is better than nothing. Try it.

 57 | Going to the movies. 

 58 | Dyeing your hair. 

It’s not just for rock stars like Gwen Stefani. Pink. Blue. Fire-engine red. Go for it.

 59 | Waxing. 

 60 | Staying up on the news and current events.  

Next Draft from Dave Pell is a great curated news source for busy modern parents. Skimfeed is made for the uber nerd parent. Another spot to grab news is Twitter. You can quickly scroll through headlines on media feeds and click on topics you want to read more about. 

 61 | Keeping up with politics. 

 62 | Social Media. 

It doesn’t have to be a timesuck. Sometimes it’s a timesaver. You can connect and keep up with friends and family faster and access the news and current events efficiently and quickly.

 63 | Tropical vacations. 

 64 | Going topless.  

Isn’t that the point of tropical vacations? Here are the 50 Top (less) Beaches and Pools in the World.

 65 | Getting your nails done. 

 66 | Flirting. 

It’s healthy to flirt with your partner and show affection in front of your kids. If your kids say “ew”, talk about it directly with them. Let them know it’s good you hold hands, hug, snuggle, and kiss. The alternative could mean you’re not getting along or not close. That usually nips their “ew’s” in the bud. Model a healthy relationship.

 67 | Fighting. 

The same is true of arguing. Couples argue. It’s healthy and normal. As long as you know how to disagree in a healthy, respectful way – it’s not going to damage your kids. It’s helpful for kids to see their parents work disagreements out and make up. 9 Ways for Arguing in Front of Your Kids provides science-based advice from experts in the field.

 68 | Comic books. 

Or even make a living off of writing and illustrating graphic novels or comic books. See Parent Co. interviews with James Kochalka , Gene Luen Yang, Jorge Aguirre, and Raphael Rosado.

 69 | Moving. 

 70 | Fashion. 

 71 | Weed. 

A total of 23 states have legalized marijuana use in some form. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington allow recreational use of marijuana.

 72 | TV.  

 

Cancel your cable. Stream. It’s all about Apple TV, Netflix, or Hulu.

 73 | Education. 

These days low-residency and online programs make it easier to continue your college or graduate education. You don’t have to give up that dream of earning your M.F.A. in Writing, going to law school, or becoming a teacher. It might take you longer, but it’s doable.

 74 | Dreams. 

 75 | Hiking. 

Throw on a baby carrier, and hike when your kids are infants. Start young. The Wilderness Society also gives 10 Tips to Make Hiking Fun for the Whole Family.

 76 | Becoming an excellent home cook. 

Get Cal Peternell’s new cookbook, “Twelve Recipes.” It’s a smart cookbook written for new cooks, for uncertain cooks, for good cooks looking for simple inspiration.

 77 | Yoga.  

Pregnant? Baby? Toddler? Kids? There may be a yoga class nearby for you. If not, there are plenty online.

 78 | Meditation.  

Free Meditation offers online resources for meditation and mindfulness of all ages.

 79 | Saving money. 

Here are 12 Money-Saving Ideas for New Parents and 11 Ways Allowance Helps Your Kids Understand Money.

 80 | Sleeping in the dark. 

 81 | Stupid YouTube videos. 

There are family-friendly sites out there that curate YouTube and Vimeo videos for you. Try Today Box.

 82 | Comedy and Jokes. 

Clean jokes and comedian exist. Try Brian Regan or Jim Gaffigan. Read this interview about fatherhood with Greg Fitzsimmons.

 83 | Talking about race. 

Don’t avoid talking about race with your kids or answering tough questions. If you don’t talk to your kids about race, you’re sending them the message that it’s not okay to talk about it. If you need guidance, try How White Parents Should Talk to Their Kids About Race or How to Talk About Race with Your Kids

 84 | Talking about sex. 

When your kids start asking you questions about sex, they’re ready to talk about it. Stick to the facts, and use proper terms like penis, vagina, and vulva. Read Preparing to Talk to Your Kids About Sex. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, studies show 78% of teenagers need more information about sexuality and that young people rate their parents as their top resources for learning about sex. 

 85 | Cycling. 

The Center for Cycling Education has compiled a great set of resources on cycling with kids.

 86 | Crying. 

It’s okay for dads and moms to cry in front of their kids sometimes. It makes you human and let’s them know it’s okay for them to cry too. If you’re watching a movie that makes you tear up, go ahead. It shows you’re empathetic and compassionate. It’s normal and healthy to be sad sometimes.

 87 | Enjoying spooky stories. 

Tell spooky age-appropriate stories around the campfire. Demystify the scary. See 25 Halloween Movies Every Kid Should See, Sorted by Age.

 88 | Making mistakes. 

It’s healthy for your kids to see you make mistakes and learn from them. Everyone does. It’s human nature. Own up to your mistakes, make it right, and move forward. You will teach your kids perseverance, humility, and a growth mindset.

 89 | Sporting events.  

I’ve taken my kid to high school soccer, basketball, field hockey, and football games since she was two-years-old. We’ve also taken her to Red Sox games and watch live sports with her on TV sometimes. She loves to learn the rules, follow the scores, and all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it. It’s a great way to have some meaningful discussions about sportsmanship and endurance too.

 90 | Donating money. 

It’s good for your kids to see you donate money for causes whether they be for charities or politics. Have kids pitch in with their allowance too.

 91 | Getting a tattoo. 

 92 | Playing sports. 

It’s not just about kids playing anymore. Parents play too. Kickball, hockey, baseball, soccer – you name it.

 93 | Talking about death. 

This is an important one. You don’t need to shield your kids from death, and certainly don’t tell your kids a person or pet “moved on”, “passed away”, or was “called home.” Kids can’t think in abstract terms. They need concrete facts. Tell them directly that the person or pet died and will not be living anymore. If you know death is imminent, be honest with them so they have time to say their goodbye’s. Funerals are a part of life, and visits to the cemetery demystify death. I taught over 1,000 kids in my teaching career. Relatives die. Neighbors die. Teachers die. Kids need space to talk about death when it happens. It’s up to parents to provide that support and space. Read Rest in Peace: Saying Goodbye to an Old Semi-beloved Pet and Coping with Death of a Family Dog, and Mama, she’s in your heart now. It’s ok.

 94 | Using proper terms for anatomy. 

Penis. Vagina. Vulva. These are the words you need to be using with your kids. Ditch the winky and hoohaa.

 95 | Playing hooky. 

 96 | Costumes. 

What better way to share the fun of make-believe with your kids than playing dress up with your kids, getting into the Halloween spirit or costume parties? We keep a plastic tub filled with costumes in our daughter’s closet. She loves it.

 97 | Skydiving.   

Only eight in a million skydiving jumps result in a fatality. You have a better chance of dying getting in your car every day. 

 98 | Staying current with technology. 

Parent, meet The Verge. The Verge, help a parent stay current and up-to-date on the latest tech trends.

 99 | Having a clutter-free home. 

Sure, Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up doesn’t talk about what to do with your kid’s artwork, toys, and all that baby gear crap. That’s why we tested it out and broke down ways to declutter with kids. Parental minimalists and neat freaks rejoice!

 100 | Developing a killer app or mobile game. 

Donald Rumsfeld of all people did it at 83. So can you.

 101 | Swearing. 

It can be tricky to express our full range of adult emotions – especially as we navigate the eternal shitshow that is parenting – without incorporating expletives.

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Sometimes it's easy to overlook this amazing work we are doing, my love. On the surface, our lives couldn't be less extraordinary. We work our jobs, we care for our children—we embody a simple life. (Though, don't get me wrong, we love every second of it!)

But especially when I think about the work you do for our family, work that largely goes unsung, I'm reminded that, really, it's my job to make sure you know how much it's appreciated.

We both came into this marriage so young, so untested, and so blissfully unaware of the hardships that would come our way through the years. As we grew up together, we weathered our own storms before finally realizing we were ready to expand from a party of two to a party of three.

You were more nervous than I was, but you stayed strong for me, making me feel stronger and shouldering my own moments of uncertainty like the hero I needed.

When our daughter was born, pink and sweet and impossibly small, I never felt safer than when I saw her in your arms. From her first breath, you were there, ready to give her the world if she asked. Your dedication to her, to me, and to this family we continue to build never wavered from that moment forward. From the first moments, you were an incredible parent.

But life has a way of distracting us—blinding us to the everyday heroism even when it's right under our noses. As Edna Mode sagely reminded us in The Incredibles 2, "Done properly, parenting is a heroic act", and I see your heroism.

So thank you, my love…you are incredible to me.

Thank you for stretching to pick up my slack, even when you’re just as tired as I am.

Somedays you walk through the door from work, and you were slammed all day and your commute took an hour longer than it should have, and you're immediately bombarded by a needy toddler and an (almost) equally needy wife. But when I watch you shake off the day in an instant and throw your arms around us both, ready to help, I don't think words can truly express how grateful I am.

Thank you for being strong in my moments of weakness, even if no one else ever knows about them.

I play it so strong all the time, but you know the truth. You know the moments I'm about to break or the days when I truly can't take on another thing. And how do you respond? You make it okay. You let me crumble, you let me whine, you let me cry when I need to. You make it a safe space where I don't have to be #supermom, if even just for a moment. You are my safe space, and I love you for that.

Thank you for the thousands of practical, “little” things you do every week.

From taking out the garbage to changing the lightbulbs to actually remembering to replace the toilet paper roll (something even I forget to do!), those little things don't go unnoticed—even if I often forget to thank you in the moment.

While I may take on the bulk of housework as the stay-at-home parent, you do your part in little ways I never forget. Those little things? To me, they are incredible feats, trust me.

Thank you for being the incredible father I always knew you would be.

I wouldn't have married you if I didn't think "Dad" was a mantle you could take on successfully, but it still makes my heart burst every time I see you excelling at this difficult role. You make our daughter feel supported, safe, and loved every single day, and I'm so, so happy that you are the person I chose to do this life with. Your instincts and commitment to our children amaze me every day.

So for all the million things you do—and for all the millions of times I forget to say it—I thank you. For all the million things you have yet to do for us—I thank you.

You're our hero, and you're pretty incredible.

This article is sponsored by Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles 2 on Digital October 23 and Blu-ray Nov 6. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

When my daughter was only six months old, I found myself with baskets and baskets full of toys—and things only seemed to get worse as she grew older. I got to the point where I was so totally tired of cleaning up these toys—especially because she barely seemed to play with most of them.

And that's when I decided to get rid of almost all of her toys.

I suddenly found myself more at peace, with less to clean and in little time I saw my daughter begin to finally play with the toys she did have. This saved me so much frustration.

Here's what I learned (and now do) to keep us from getting back to that place of too many toys:

1. Buy toys only on special occasions (or not at all)

It's so easy to see a toy on sale or to give in to the constant whining and buy a toy. But before you give in, try to remind yourself of the number of toys you already have at home and resist the urge. Instead, find another activity or form of reward—a trip to the park, to the ice cream place, to laser tag, etc.

2. Create a wishlist with your child

Instead of buying a toy your child wants, or you think they will like right away, create a wishlist with your child that you can hare with family for birthdays and holidays. I have an Amazon wishlist for both my children with the toys they want (or I want them to have) and I send it out to my family a couple weeks before birthdays and Christmas.

Try as much as you can to limit the amount of toys your child is allowed to have on the list. Go through the list with them and ask them to pick their absolute favorites. Maybe five max? Find the right number that works for you.

3. Get your kids involved in a toy garage sale

If your kids are a bit older, get them involved in a toy garage sale where the money they get from the sale will go to one new toy they can have. This process will teach your kids a little bit about making money and working—and it will incentivize them to get rid of some of their old toys.

You'll be surprised at how easily they can let go when it means they can have something new. If you don't have the space for a garage sale, team up with a mom friend who does and do a joint sale with friends.

4. Ask relatives for experience-based gifts

For my daughter's second Christmas, we asked our family to gift us a registration to a toddler class instead of toys—and my daughter loved it. I took photos at the class and sent them to our family every week to show them the exciting new things she was learning—and so they truly understood that it was a gift that kept on giving.

Express to your family how much your child loves a specific activity and how gifting them a related experience can be a great gift that your child will love.

5. Donate and get rid of the toys that are no longer being used

I totally understand how difficult this one can be to do, depending on how busy we all get. But if you can do a big clean, take a day and then plan for a donation drop-off. If you can only get rid of a few things throughout the year, then that's all you can do, and that's okay. My most helpful strategy is that I clean out our home and donate toys and unnecessary "stuff" before birthdays and holidays.

It may feel like a small step, but it's actually huge—you've made a commitment to start decluttering your home of toys that don't provide your family with a purpose. Plus, if you involve your children in the donation process, they will begin to understand the importance of giving back to the community.

You've got this, mama.

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[Trigger warning: This essay describes one woman's emotional journey with miscarriage.]

I knew something was wrong when my nurse didn't say anything after what seemed like an eternity moving the ultrasound wand across my gelled belly.

As many as one in four women trying to get pregnant will have a miscarriage—and yet I had no idea it was that common. You don't hear much about miscarriages until it happens to you or someone close enough who may share it with you.

So how could I have been prepared for it when it happened to me?

What they don't tell you is that by my 8-week appointment I had experienced the joy of that positive pregnancy test, of telling my partner, our parents and even some close friends. And in this modern era of pregnancy—I had worked diligently to follow my ovulation cycles, I peed on so many pregnancy tests, and then tracked every little thing I did on an app, checking to see what new fruit or vegetable or development was in store for my little one that week.

By that first appointment, I was already well into daydreaming about how to announce our baby and what my baby shower would be like and where I should take maternity photos and what names would be on our list.

And when that all comes crashing down after a somber midwife performs an internal ultrasound to double check what the first nurse already knew—I was too devastated to do anything but cry when the doctor told us our options.

Despite the lack of heartbeat, my doctor had us wait a week to be absolutely certain and to let things progress naturally.

That week was the hardest week of my life.

I would go to sleep crying as my husband gathered me into his arms, so strong for both of us. I re-watched the entirety of Game of Thrones as a distraction since misery loves company, even fictionally. When the bleeding started, it was almost a relief that it would be over soon, and we could begin to move forward, to try again.

On our third wedding anniversary, we ended up in the ER as my cramping pain got worse and worse. We spent a sleepless night at home, then went in the next morning for my scheduled D&C (dilation and curettage), where they checked that every piece of my baby was gone as I lay drugged and dazed on the table.

The next month was a blur of depression, wild hormones, and yes, wine and some bitterly eaten sushi. It was hard not to feel like I had done something wrong. Especially since, when so few people even knew I was pregnant in the first place, my miscarriage felt like a shameful secret instead of just a fact of life.

It truly helped me to be open about my miscarriage, to acknowledge my baby so it didn't feel like they never existed. I found myself telling far more people than I had told about my pregnancy, so if it happened to them they would at least know they weren't alone.

Two months after my miscarriage, we found out we were expecting again. Despite being overjoyed, my second pregnancy felt so different—gone was the carefree excitement of our first, in its place was a crippling fear that we could lose our baby again.

I went overboard on the things I could control—double checking that everything I ate was pregnancy safe and doing my best to keep my stress level down with workouts and breathing exercises. While people told me how lucky I was not to have much morning sickness, I wished I did as a sign my baby was okay (I didn't have morning sickness the first pregnancy either).

I nearly cut off my husband's circulation at our 8-week heartbeat appointment until the midwife said our baby was okay, then cried as I watched her, so tiny and so perfect. I don't think I truly let go of my anxiety until our 20-week appointment when they showed us every finger and toe and told me everything looked okay.

Even now, it helps that her kicks remind me she's alive and well.

Our little rainbow baby is due any day now, and I am so thankful we had friends and family that knew what we had been through to support us through the post-traumatic anxiety, the pregnancy pains, and the new parent fears. I cannot wait for them all to meet her, and continue being a part of our baby girl's life.

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With the school year in full swing, you may have already approached that school lunch slump. As a parent, you want your kids to eat a well-balanced, nutritious meal, but you also want to make sure your child eats what you pack. The last thing you want to do is fill your kiddo's lunchbox with junk or unhealthy fare or get stuck on repeat meals that may bore them.

So how do you make sure the healthy lunches you pack get eaten? Here are a few tips:

1. Prepare lunch together

Children should be part of the process so discuss what they would like, and even have them choose foods to include from the various food groups. The more involved your child is in making their lunch, the more likely they will eat it.

2. Meal prep

As a parent, busy weeks can let healthy habits slip. Be prepared with healthy options by meal prepping at the beginning of the week. That could mean pre-making containers of cut up veggie with dips like hummus or ranch, or pre-packing nut-free trail mixes that fit perfectly into a healthy lunch box.

3. Encourage eating together with friends

Lunch is a social time and more enjoyable when surrounded by family and friends. Ask your child who they sat with and discuss lunchtime with them.

4. Make meals for appealing

Kids eat with their eyes, so adding bright colors or shapes helps make the meal more appealing. Think red peppers, orange clementines, black beans and green edamame. Even lunch boxes can have bright, fun colors so kids enjoy toting them to school.

5. Leave some love

My kids always loved when I left them a personalized not in their lunchbox. They would come home with all smiles. Even a simple "I love you," or "hope you're having a great day!" can help.

6.  Opt for allergy-friendly options

Many schools are nut-free, so make sure to stay updated on their lunch policy. Fortunately, there are many options now available at your local markets.

7. Keep food safety in mind

Some kids eat lunch early at school while others have a later lunch hour. If your child eats later, you want to make sure to keep their lunch cold. Look for insulated containers to pack lunches, and use several ice packs to keep it cold. You can even speak to the school as some will refrigerate lunches if needed.

What to know about kid's nutrition

According to a recent survey by Revolution Foods, the nation's leading healthy school and community meal provider, 80% of parents and 60% of students agreed that balanced nutrition, including a selection of lean proteins, whole grains, fresh fruit and veggies, is extremely important when it comes to school lunches because it gives children the opportunity to take in the nutrients they need for successful growth and development.

Nutrients children need include:

  • Calories: Children need to take in enough calories, which depend on age, gender and activity level. Your child's pediatrician or registered dietitian can crunch those numbers. Most of the calories should come from nutritious foods.
  • Protein: Children are growing and need protein to do so. Protein is also important for strength and muscles. Choose lean proteins whenever possible like skinless chicken breast, lean cuts of beef and pork, tofu, eggs and fish.
  • Iron: Children are at risk of not getting enough iron in their diet. Foods that provide iron include meat, poultry, beans and leafy green vegetables. For the iron to be better absorbed from plant foods (like spinach), pack them together with vitamin-C rich food like strawberries, citrus fruit and bell peppers.
  • Calcium: Needed for strong bones and teeth, calcium is another nutrient kids require. One of the best sources of calcium is cow's milk and dairy products, but you can also find it in calcium-fortified juices, calcium-based tofu, beans, soy milk and leafy green vegetables.

Here are some recipes we love:

Turkey Tacos

Total: 25 mins

Prep: 15 mins

Cook:10 mins

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 or 2 fresh chili peppers, like serranos or jalapeños (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (or canola or vegetable oil)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey meat (or 2 cups shredded cooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
  • 1 lime
  • 8 corn tortillas (or taco shells)
  • Optional: salsa, guacamole, spring mix lettuce, cheese, and sour cream

Steps to make it:

  • Gather the ingredients.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic and chiles. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and soft, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the cumin and cayenne and stir to combine until spices sizzle, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the turkey and salt. Stir to combine and break up meat with the back of the spoon or spatula.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is cooked through. Note: if using shredded cooked turkey, also add 1/4 cup of water, stir to combine, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover to heat everything up and let the flavors blend a bit, about 10 minutes.
  • When the meat is fully cooked, take it off the heat, and stir in the cilantro.
  • Juice the lime over the meat and stir to combine.
  • Heat the tortillas, if using, and top each one with some ground turkey, salsa, guacamole, and lettuce (or fill each taco shell). Add sour cream or shredded cheese, if you like.

Serve and enjoy!

Easy Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas

Total: 15 mins

Prep: 5 mins

Cook: 10 mins

Yield: 6 Quesadillas (3 to 4 Servings)

Ingredients:

  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 2 (9-ounce) packages cooked diced chicken
  • 1 cup shredded Colby cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup salsa

Steps to make it:

  • Place three of the tortillas on a work surface. Top the tortillas with half of the cheeses, then the chicken, then the remaining cheeses. Top the filling with the remaining tortillas. Spread outsides of the quesadillas with the butter.
  • Heat a flat pan, large skillet, or griddle over medium heat. Add the quesadillas, one at a time, and cook, pressing down with a spatula, until bottoms are browned, about 2 to 4 minutes. Turn quesadillas and cook second side 2 to 3 minutes or until the tortillas are browned and crisp and the cheeses melt.
  • Remove the quesadilla with a spatula to the work surface and cut into quarters. Repeat with remaining quesadillas. Serve immediately with salsa for dipping.

English Muffin Pizzas

Total:10 mins

Prep: 3 mins

Cook: 7 mins

Yield: 2 English muffins (2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 English muffins, preferably whole grain (see Note), split
  • 1 cup store-bought or homemade tomato sauce
  • 4 slices (1⁄4 inch thick) Mozzarella, preferably fresh
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

Steps to make it:

  • Preheat a toaster oven or standard oven to 350°F.
  • Toast the English muffin halves until very lightly brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon 1⁄4 cup of the tomato sauce evenly over each English muffin half.
  • Top each English muffin with a slice of mozzarella. Lightly salt, and sprinkle on the oregano if desired.
  • Bake or toast the pizzas until the cheese is melted and a bit bubbly, about 4 minutes. Serve, making sure your kids know that the pizzas are hot!

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There's nothing better than cuddling up on the couch in cozy pajamas with your favorite drink and tuning into a Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel. Yes, they *all* have the same plot line and I'm willing to bet on how each one ends, but there's just something about the holiday spirit, a little magic and a happily ever after that sucks you in.

We've got some good news, mama: You can start enjoying these holiday movies next week... as in before Halloween even arrives.

The lineup will officially start on October 27, featuring 22 original movies. Of course, movies from seasons past will be playing all day long too, but most of the new ones will premier on Saturdays and Sundays. Did we mention Chad Michael Murray is starring in one? Cancel my weekend plans for the rest of the year, please.

Here's the full downloadable guide


Host that girl's night you've been putting off, enjoy a date night at home with your partner or binge-watch all by yourself because #self-care.

Happy holidays, mama!

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