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Forget the nursery and sonogram appointments to prepare for the baby, you have to prepare to be a mommy! As much as we would like to believe we come equipped with natural motherhood as soon as the baby ejects itself from our bodies, we cannot possibly be completely aware of how to be a “mom.” Here’s a list of things that you can practice before you birth your baby so that you don’t go insane. It will also help maintain a sense of self when you’re suddenly alone with a newborn all day. (It’s not like you thought it would be, it’s more.)                                                       


1 | Perfect a quick and simple makeup routine that makes you look like you sleep regularly. Remember what it was like to be 22, hungover, and someone told you, “You look great!” and it made you feel like you were really nailing life because you hadn’t even gone to bed yet!? Wearing makeup after having a baby will provide that feeling again. The early days of a newborn feel like a beautiful hangover with all the emotions of being intoxicated, so if you’re able to put on your face, you’ll feel like a spritely 22-year-old who can party all night again.

2 | Learn how to crown braid your hair. It’s out of your face and it looks impressive and when you take it down it creates perfect beach waves. Again, impressive. People will be all, “How did you do that! You look stunning! You have a baby and amazing hair! You are incredible!” Plus, when your hair starts falling out a few months after you’ve given birth and you want to shave your head, a crown braid eliminates the opportunity for your baby to grab fistfuls of your shedding locks.

3 | Practice doing everything efficiently and with only one hand. Peeling hard boiled eggs, wiping yourself after you pee, brushing your teeth, washing your face, texting, typing, holding a book, putting on socks, and much, much more. You’ll want to be good at the one-handed everything before you don’t have a choice because you’re holding a baby. When it seems impossible – say when you’re peeling a carrot – just remember that your body made a baby, so you can do anything.

4 | Embrace eating everything with a spoon. It’s the only way to make sure the food successfully travels from plate to mouth without spilling on baby’s fuzzy head. Some food might look silly on a spoon, but you don’t want to introduce lasagna to your newborn just as she’s mastered latching onto your nipple.

5 | Accept that you will need help from people and you actually cannot do everything alone. This took me the whole of the nine months to realize and, once the baby was born, I had a little trouble when it seemed I could do nothing for myself in the first month and had to ask for help non-stop. “Pass me my phone, fill up my water glass, turn on that lamp, not that lamp, the other one. No, that one. I know, I have a lot of lamps! I like lamps!”

6 | Start saying exactly what is on your mind. Your husband or partner is going to say the wrong thing at two am when the baby is screaming and neither of you knows what to do. Tell them your feelings are hurt so you can have a little disagreement now instead of waiting and having a big argument later.

Also, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have some arguments. No one is immune to disagreements and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have procreated with this person. You might think they’re overreacting when they insist on using a special kind of bamboo washcloth but, then again, you might be overreacting when you sit on the toilet, screaming, “I’m an inadequate human being!”

7 | Relish being slow. Everything is going to take longer than you thought it ever could once a baby is in your life. Practice reminding yourself that taking your time is necessary and attempting to move at your pre-pregnancy speed is just going to result in dropping things, like your baby.

Whether writing an email or getting to the doctor, take your time. This may result in more time spent in transit getting to those sonogram appointments. Then again, when was the last time you stopped rushing around and simply enjoyed the journey?

8 | Talk to yourself. Every other week there is an article about how good it is to talk to your baby. Trouble is, babies don’t say much in response beyond gurgles and coos. However, if you are comfortable talking to yourself, you can get things done. That novel you’ve been meaning to write? Dictate it. The podcast you’ve imagined hosting? Record it. A voice-over career voicing cartoon characters? Start it.

Before the baby comes you’ll be glad you got so much done. Once the baby arrives you’ll be comfortable talking to a little human who doesn’t respond with words.

9 | Make up songs. Babies love music and, of course, you could just bone up on the lyrics to all your favorite songs or just turn on your iTunes, but getting comfortable improvising songs will keep your brain active. Bonus: you’ll feel like a creative genius when you haven’t slept and come up with an impromptu song rhyming “cheeks” and “bespeaks.”

10 | When you cook, pretend you are on Cutthroat Kitchen. Ingredients you have in your fridge will vary widely due to the very occasional trips to the supermarket once the baby is born. Challenge yourself to imagine what you would do with one wrinkled red pepper, ¼ of an onion, two old lemons, a little yogurt, and the end of a banana bread someone made for you. If you imagined ordering takeout, you are correct!

Still, if you are lucky enough to be able to stay home with the baby while your partner works, you may feel the desire to pretend you are a 1950s housewife who can take care of a baby and have dinner on the table when your partner comes home. The time you have in between breastfeeding and baby crying to be held will be limited and sporadic, so creativity with ingredients and timing are good things to practice now.

11 | Start wearing post-pregnancy clothing before you tell people you are pregnant so that it doesn’t look like you have given up your style in exchange for a family. Leggings and oversized shirts were good enough for you when your body was going through puberty in the 90s and they can work for you again as you learn to love your expanded womanly life-giving form. Make sure you show off that cleavage with low cut tops now so that you can enjoy the seamless transition to pulling out a boob to feed your child later.

12 | Lastly, practice not judging other women. You’ll find it is a useless waste of time when you end up doing the thing you balked at for years. Case in point: prior to getting pregnant, natural home birth was “gross and insane,” cribs took up too much space, and having “Mom” friends was unnecessary. Naturally, I gave birth to my baby in my apartment’s tiny tub, bought a crib, and love every Mommy Group I can find.

Ultimately, we must practice patience with ourselves and with the mothers in our lives as we turn into mothers. Moms say weird things. Practice nodding and saying thank you. You are about to join their club and they’re excited for you. And guess what? You’re going to say weird things eventually too.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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I can vividly remember the last time I remember feeling truly rested. I was on vacation with my family, and my dad and I had started a tradition of going to sleep at 10 p.m., then waking up at 10 a.m. to go for a run. After five days of twelve hours of sleep a night, I remember actually pausing and thinking, "I am truly not at all tired right now!"

That was probably 15 years ago.

Of course, being tired pre-kids and being tired post-kids are two entirely different beasts. Pre-kids, tiredness was almost a badge of pride. It meant you had stayed up late dancing with friends or at a concert with your boyfriend. It meant you had woken up early to hit a spin class before gliding into work, hair still damp from your shower, for a morning meeting. Being tired meant you were generally killing it at life—and I was still young enough that, with a little concealer, I could look like it.

Tired post-kids is a whole other animal.

Tired post-kids means you probably still went to bed at a reasonable hour, but you're still exhausted. Maybe you even slept in past sunrise... but you're still exhausted. You may not have worked out in weeks... but you're still exhausted. And staying out late dancing with your girlfriends? (I mean... is that real life? Was it ever?) Nope, didn't do that. But—you guessed it!—you're still exhausted.

Sometimes I look at my husband and say, "I think if I could sleep for about five days, then I would feel rested again."

But considering the average new mom loses almost two months of sleep in her child's first year of life, even that is probably a low estimate of what I really need.

Because being a mom is exhausting.

It's exhausting always putting someone else's needs above your own. I often find myself actually giving my daughter the food off my plate (because, when you're two, mom's meal must be better even if you're eating the exact same thing).

Or I'll sacrifice sneaking my own nap to lie uncomfortably with her on the couch because it means she sleeps an extra 30 minutes.

Or I'll carry her up and down flights of stairs she is perfectly capable of scaling on her own because, well, she's tired or it's just quicker than nagging her to hurry up all the time.

I often end the day bone-tired, shocked at the physical exertion of just keeping this little person alive.

It's exhausting remembering all the things. The mental load of motherhood is so real, and sometimes I'm not sure it won't crush me.

I schedule and remember the doctor appointments, keep the fridge stocked and plan the meals, notice when my husband is low on white shirts and wash and fold the laundry, add the playdates and the date nights to the calendar, and add any assortment of to-dos to my day because, well, I'm the parent at home, so I must have time, right?

And when I drop one of the thousand balls I'm juggling, I writhe under the guilt of failing at my responsibility.

It's exhausting not getting enough sleep. The sleep gap doesn't end after baby's first year.

Studies have shown that parents lose as much as six months of sleep in their child's first two years of life. That sounds unbelievable at first...but I completely believe it.

Because sometimes I stay up later than I should just to get a few minutes of "me" time. Because sometimes my sleep-trained daughter still wakes up in the middle of the night with a nightmare or because she's sick or for no real reason at all and needs me to soothe her back to sleep.

Because sometimes I'm so busy trying to keep it all together mentally that I don't know how to turn my own brain off to get to sleep. And because sometimes (almost always) my daughter wakes up earlier than I would like her to and the day starts over before I'm ready.

It's exhausting maintaining any other relationship while being a mom. I try not to neglect my marriage. I try not to neglect my friendships. I try to make time for friendly interaction with my coworkers. I try to be there for my congregation. I try to keep all these connections alive and nurtured, but the fact is that some days my nurture is completely used up.

It's exhausting doing all of the above while being pregnant. Okay, this one might not resonate for every mom, but we all know being pregnant is hard. Being pregnant with a toddler? I'm shocked it's not yet an Olympic event. (I'm not sure if we'd all get gold medals or just all fall asleep at the starting gun.)

Most days, I'm so tired and busy I honestly forget that I am pregnant, only to be reminded at the end of the day when I finally collapse on the couch and the little one in my uterus wakes up to remind me. My body is doing amazing things, sure—and I have the exhaustion to show for it.

Of course, I know that this is just an exhausting season of life. One day, one not-so-far-off day, my children will be a bit more grown and be able to get their own breakfast in the morning. One day, they'll actually want to sleep in, and I'll be the one opening their curtains in the morning to start the day (maybe before they're really ready).

One day, they'll always walk up and down the stairs themselves and will stop stealing my food and I'll be able to nap without making sure they are asleep or with a sitter. One day, they won't need me to remember all the things.

And the really wild part? Just thinking about that day makes me miss these days, just a bit.

So, yes, I'm tired. I'm always tired. But I'm grateful too. Grateful I get to have these days. Grateful I get to have this life.

But also really grateful for those days I get to nap, too.

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For the first couple years of a child's life, their feet grow so rapidly that they typically need a new shoe size every two to three months (so, no, you're not imagining how many shoes you've been buying lately!).

Fortunately, things tend to slow down as they start walking and hit school age. Even so, it's important to make sure they're wearing the right size for maximum comfort and healthy development.

That's why we teamed up with the experts at Rack Room Shoes for tips on helping the whole family get back to school on the right foot.

1. Get professionally fitted at least once a year.

We love online shopping as much as anyone, but for the health of your child's feet, it's worth it to make at least an annual trip to a store to get them properly sized on a Brannock Device (yep, those old-school sizers you remember as a kid are still the most reliable indicators of foot length and width!). Back to school is a great time to plan a visit to a store with trained associates who can help ensure your little one is getting the right fit.

2. Remember not all feet (or shoes) are created equally.

Most babies have naturally pudgier feet that thin out as they get older, and many kids need a wider or narrower shoe than their peers. Visiting a store and speaking with a trained associate can help you gauge which shoe brand will best suit your child. Once you have that benchmark, shopping online will be easier.

3. Get good closure.

Shoe closure, that is. Nowadays, there's a variety of ways to fasten kids shoes, from slip-ons to velcro to elastic laces. Provide your child with a few options to find the closure that works best for you both.

4. Watch for tell-tale signs your child has outgrown their shoes.

Children will often be the last ones to tell you their favorite shoes are uncomfortable. If your child is tripping or walking funny, it may be time to size up.

5. Try the push-down toe method.

Think your kid has outgrown their kicks? Push down on the toe of their shoe with your thumb to see how much wiggle room they have. The ideal size is to have about half a thumb's width between the tip of the toe and the end of the shoe. (That space equates to about half a size.)

6. Pick a style they'll want to put on. (Here are some of our favorites!)

Most moms know the struggle of getting kids out the door in the morning—the right pair of shoes can help cut down on the (literal) foot-dragging. Opt for a fun style (consider shopping for their favorite color or a light-up design) that they'll be begging to wear every day. (But feel free to buy a second pair that's more your style too!)

You'll love that they're classic converse. They'll love the peek of pink.

Converse Girls Maddie, $44

BUY

7. Don't forget the sneakers.

Whether they're running through the recess or racing in P.E., school-age children need a pair of well-fitting, durable sneakers. Be sure to get them professionally fitted to ensure nothing slows them down on the playground.

8. Understand the size breakdowns.

Expert retailers like Rack Room Shoes break up sizing by Baby, Toddler, Little Kid, and Big Kid to make it easier to find the right section for your child. For boys, there's no size break between kids shoes and men's shoes. Girls, though, can cross over into women's shoes from size 4 (in girls) on—a girl's size 4 is a women's size 5.5 or 6.

Looking for more advice? Step into a Rack Room Shoes store near you or shop online. With a "Buy One, Get One 50% off" policy, you can make sure the whole family will put their best foot forward this back-to-school season. (We had to!)

Who knew Amazon had so many dreamy nursery must-haves? Maybe you have a friend or family member about to have a baby or you're preparing for your new bundle of joy—either way, you can save tons on grabbing some essentials on Prime Day.

We've rounded up our favorite nursery items from basics, like cribs and changing tables, to the essentials you never knew you needed (hint: lots of storage!).

1. 6-drawer dresser

This gorgeous dresser has plenty of space for baby's clothing and accessories—and will transition seamlessly to a big kid room one day. Even better? The top is large enough to be used as a changing table. The shade of white is great for any gender, too!

Dresser, Amazon, $239.99 ($329.99)

BUY HERE

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.

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