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Over the last few years I have worked with an incredible sexual abuse prevention team.


They provide training for schools, community centers, and governmental organizations, help families out of tragic situations, and provide counseling to victims. The work they do both turns your stomach to lead and lights a fire in your heart – it is unspeakable tragedy but there IS hope.

They have opened my eyes to how every single person in the world can either add to a culture of child sexual abuse, or dismantle it. Our very words can help prevent children from abuse.

Here are a few phrases I’ve learned from them:

“That’s your vulva!”

We mustn’t let our natural prudishness around anatomical terms for private parts get in the way of our children’s knowledge about their body.

It does take some getting used to, but after a few awkward hiccups my family and I have become proud members of Team Vulva for several reasons!

Prevention specialist with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Laura Palumbo, explains how children who know and use the correct anatomical terms discourages perpetrators. In the event of abuse, knowing the correct anatomical terms helps children and adults navigate the disclosure and forensic interview process.

It can help to explain to those close to you your motivation for using these terms. Particularly as it is inevitable that your toddler will eloquently ask Nana, “Do you have a penis or a vulva?” at the dinner table.

“Stop.”

We teach our children that STOP is a serious, red light word that will be listened to by everyone.

When our children are at play and someone says STOP we will intervene to make sure it is honored. When we are wrestling or tickling, if our children say STOP, even through their giggles, we will immediately cease. They nearly always scream GO! a few seconds later but meanwhile they are discovering that only they get to say what happens to their bodies, and if they are not comfortable with something, their STOP is meaningful.

When we stop kissing, tickling, and cuddling when our children request it we are empowering them in that moment. However, it also acts as practice, a role playing, for if something more serious occurs. They are well versed in saying STOP to someone bigger and more powerful than them and they will feel able to use it when it really counts.

“No secrets.”

We don’t have secrets in our family, just surprises. Surprises differ from secrets as they are things that are kept quiet momentarily, and revealed to everyone in time.

The term “secret” comes up again and again in the stories of child sexual abuse victims. A culture of secrecy is one of the foundations that perpetrators require and seek to establish.

Make it your aim that the word “secret” rings alarm bells in your children’s ears. Remind them constantly that “we don’t have secrets!” and that if anyone ever shares a secret with them that their mom or dad get to hear it, too.

“Did you feel safe?”

In this powerful blog post a mother, herself a victim of sexual abuse, describes how when she was a child her own mother used to meet her after a party and, in front of her perpetrator, ask her if she was a good girl, if she did as she was told.

We need to change the way we talk to our children after events.

Ask if they felt comfortable. If they felt safe. If they had any bad bits.

Of course, these questions have to happen as part of a whole conversation where they get to tell you about the chocolate cake fight, and the boy who hilariously strung party hats all over his whole body and chased the dog.

If we strive to keep open channels of communication with our children we can ask them, “Did you feel safe?” knowing we will get an honest answer.

“High five, wave, or hug?”

Lucy Emmerson, of the Sex Education Forum, suggests that children shouldn’t be forced to kiss relatives as it’s important for children to learn that their bodies are their own.

Instead of saying, “Kiss Aunty goodbye!” ask how your child might like to say goodbye. It might be with nothing, a smile, a wave, a high five, a hug. I am a huge advocate that children must never be forced to show affection, yet our children almost always opt for full blown hugs and kisses. I guess this is because they tend to love all the people we hang out with, and they see us willingly showing affection to them. However, they know that only they get a say on what happens to their bodies. They know they will never be forced.

Every so often there is a little awkward moment but I simply let it be, and then call the relative later and explain how important it is that children know their bodies are their own.

I live in a country where one in three girls are sexually abused by the time they are 16. I am willing to put up with a little awkwardness if it protects them from becoming a tragic statistic.

Will you consider adopting these phrases in your family? Do so and know you are doing your bit to create a world where children can thrive.

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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

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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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Neve Campbell recently went from a mama of one to two when she and her husband, JJ Feild, adopted a baby son they named Raynor.

Raynor is a super unique baby name. While Neve's son shares his name with a garage door manufacturing company and a character from the Starcraft video game, he probably won't share it with anyone in his future elementary school.

So why did Campbell and Feild pick a name that's literally off the Social Security Administration's baby name chart? Well, because his 6-year-old brother's name isn't very common either.

"Our son Caspian has a unique name, I like having a unique name," Campbell explained on a recent episode of Live with Kelly and Ryan. "So we weren't gonna call him Bob because you can't be Bob and Caspian."

Baby name experts agree with Campbell

Linda Rosenkrantz of Nameberry.com previously offered this advice to Motherly readers:

"If you already have children, consider how the new baby's name would blend with the others. I can't imagine Kendyl and Keeley with a brother named Ezekiel."

The Kendyl and Keely in Rosenkrantz's example are the daughters of country star Jason Aldean, whose wife Brittany was expecting this time last year (and is again now).

The Aldeans ended up choosing Memphis as the name for their now 7-month-old baby boy, and while it's not as matchy-matchy as Kendyl and Keely's are, it does seem to flow well alongside them.

The same can be said for Raynor and Caspian.

Campbell was totally right. 'Bob' just wouldn't have been a good fit.

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