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One of the great challenges of parenthood is finding the time (and sometimes even focus) to maintain a creative practice. That’s partly why we love the #100DayProject, which we wrote about in April.


It’s “a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making.” For 100 days, people do something creative, sharing their work daily on Instagram as they go. We think this is a perfect, approachable framework for busy parents to either jumpstart their creative expression or experiment with a new creative outlet.

Now that the #100DayProject has passed the 50-day mark, we wanted to profile three creative mothers who’ve stuck with the project.

But instead of simply asking about their projects (which will be over soon), we wanted to learn how parenthood has changed their relationship to their creativity.

We asked them two questions:

  1. How did your relationship to your creative work evolve when you became a parent? 
  2. (Bonus question) How has it further evolved as your children have grown older?

CHRISTINA ROSALIE

Christina’s 100 Day Project: #100daysof___circles

Instagram.com/christina_write

How did your relationship to your creative work evolve  when you became a parent? 

Being an artist and being a parent require the same creative energy. The same vital spark that ignites my creative work, is what my boys crave from me. In that way, they are at odds with each other.

Since having children, the time has become more precious. Not only because each hour uninterrupted, is pure gold, but also because they mark time’s passing.  As they’ve gotten older, my life feels like it’s accelerated.Years become minutes.

On the wall, we mark their height in inches. Their growth is inevitable and fast. Yesterday they were small. Yesterday they were babies. Today I can’t remember them as anything other than what they are: lanky limbed and loud.

They have less immediate physical demands, but more emotional demands. They don’t nap any more; they dress themselves, can play for hours unsupervised. At the same time, they want my attention differently. It’s not just about me looking, watching, witnessing them in their world (though it is this, always this). It’s about really listening.  Even though they require less energy in one way, they require more in another, and so in the end, there’s still the conflict: time with them, or time to create. It’s not easy to find the overlap.

Instagram.com/christina_write

I take time when I can. During the week, it’s a handful of minutes maybe. On the weekend, it’s time that could time with them. Yet I trust that what they’ll remember isn’t what I missed, but what I inspired in them. An avid love for the creative process. An appreciation for the solace, one’s on company. A deep, raw wonder at the beauty of this world.

More about Christina:

ERIKA LOWE

Erika’s #100DayProject: #100daysoflittleraincloud

“Showing up to sketch daily using my daughter’s quotes.”

Instagram.com/thelittleraincloud/

How did your relationship to your creative work evolve  when you became a parent? 

When my daughter was born, my whole being focused like a laser on her. Everything was concrete and grounded in basic human needs. Time to nurse. Time to change a diaper. Time to sing her to sleep. I forgot a bit of my creative self-other than figuring out how to change a diaper in an airplane or function at work on zero sleep.

When she became a toddler, all that changed. Kids have unlimited creativity, and I found myself playing pirates on the playground, building forts and spreading paint all over canvasses with my bare hands. I returned to writing, acting, taking photographs and making art again.

Now she is seven. We’re both growing in our creative practice, and I want to be a role model for her and show her that creativity is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Just showing up matters, and the #100DayProject is a great exercise to demonstrate this.

https://instagram.com/thelittleraincloud/

I also find myself taking more risks with the creative process as a parent than I did when I was alone. Maybe it’s because time passes so much faster now, and there’s a sense of urgency to create. Each stage of childhood is wondrous, but impermanent, reminding me that life is fleeting. So find me wanting to constantly capture snapshots of it through writing, photographs and sketches.

Sometimes I want to kick myself for wasting so much time in my twenties, but what matters is that I keep going and don’t stop creating from here on out.

More about Erika:

MARISSA HUBER

Marissa’s #100DayProject: #100daysofmhvignettes

“I’m committing and excited about this 100 Day Project. I will paint one very loose watercolor daily of an interior, a home vignette, a cool house, or a small object. I’ll aim to use my watercolors, but I can also use Paper by @fiftythree! I can’t wait to see what everyone makes.”

Instagram.com/marissahuber/

How did your relationship to your creative work evolve  when you became a parent? 

 

Before I had my son, I was repeatedly told that I would never have a moment to myself ever again. While I understood that my life would be irrevocably changed (for the better in my opinion), I resented being told this. Can’t we celebrate changes in our lives, but not guilt those who still want to keep something of themselves? As a child, one of my favorite things about my mom was that she had her own interests, and encouraged me to pursue my own as well. I want to pass this along to my son.

The great thing about impending motherhood was it gave me a deadline for the “someday” I’d relegated some dreams too. A friend and I officially launched an interior design consulting business, and I started taking my art seriously. The way timing works, suddenly I had a newborn baby, room designs to wrap up, and illustrations to complete for a deadline. Thankfully, my mom was in town helping, and I had the support from my husband and mom to rest, enjoy my new baby,  but also complete these amazing opportunities. I learned how to work quickly and efficiently, and to trust my instincts. I no longer procrastinated out of fear. If Henry was sleeping, I was not going to waste a moment cleaning up my work area when I needed to be painting. And in the early and overwhelming days of motherhood, it felt good to do something that still felt like me. I didn’t realize how much I needed a little bit of that in my life until then.

Being a mother makes me braver and more confident in life and with my art. I don’t care as much about what others think of me, and think that there is room at the table for artists of all types, myself included!

Instagram.com/marissahuber/

How has your creative process evolved further as your children have grown older?

Time for art with a day-job and a small child has definitely evolved. After the frenetic work was done for my deadlines when he was born, I made sure to be gentle with myself and just enjoy my son. I put my watercolors away one day and didn’t feel like painting for about 9 months. That was okay. I don’t regret it one bit, since I had learned to trust my instinct, and was enjoying the simple and beautiful daily moments with my son. Also, I was learning how to be a mama and maybe myself again too.

Then one day, the paint called to me. The time off from painting resulted in such a surge in inspiration, that I have barely skipped a day in the past 7 months. I also think some of this has to do with Instagram, and the wonderful community there. Through social media, I found the most supportive creative people, who inspire me to dream bigger and implement ideas like a recent interview series I’ve started focusing on Artist Mothers.

The biggest challenge with a small child is free time. I view time way more critically now. Time is harder to come by unless I make other sacrifices in my life. Lately I’ve found that if I wake up earlier while my son is sleeping, I can paint before work and not miss out on time with him. I am the worst morning person ever, so it shows how much you may be able to sacrifice to do what you love!  Also, I’ve learned to be very realistic with my time, and know I can only take on so much side work at a time. I live by the quote, “You can do anything, but not everything.”

Some days I let my son watch more TV than I’d like to so I can finish some work. I try to balance it out by making the time I spend with him count. I put the phone down, I listen to him, and I crawl on the floor and play with him and his monster trucks. I don’t know how things will change as he gets older, but I do know that he doesn’t have another mother to compare me to. I hope he will remember that I always hugged him with my entire being, that we laughed a lot, that I try to include him when I can, and that he knows that I do this so that I can be the best mother possible to him by filling my cup a bit too.

Connect with Marissa Huber
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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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