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So, you’ve done it. The thing you always swore you’d never do: You moved back to your hometown to raise a family. That very place you never wanted to live, vowed to never be trapped, is now your chosen home. Go figure.


When I was a teenager I really didn’t have a lot of love for my hometown. I was often bored and didn’t always feel like I fit in. It seemed like everyone was always in everyone else’s business.

In my 20s, I moved to the neighboring city where I lived happily for quite a few years. Though it was right next door the atmosphere seemed to be worlds away; bigger space, more people, less drama, and more events to attend. 

When I was pregnant my husband suggested we move back and my first reaction was, “Oh, hell no. Never.” Soon enough he had us looking at houses, and pointing out all the charms I’d seriously blocked from my mind; that, and mentioning several times how nice it would be to have both our mothers literally five minutes away led to my finally losing the battle.

So we’ve moved back, and after two years I’m actually very happy we did. It’s a much different experience being a parent in one’s hometown than it was being the child. Honestly, the town I grew up in isn’t bad, and neither are the residents. In my teenage angst and insecurity I failed to see the charm and potential of my small, historical town. 

Here are five things that I realized can make the experience of moving back to your hometown as an adult with kids of your own that much sweeter.

1 | Support community events

That’s right. Get in there and start participating, that is, unless you want your town to feel as boring as you thought it was at age 14. Go to the sidewalk sales, concerts, bring your kid to the carnival, and try out all the rides. Buy a ticket for the waterslide where the proceeds go to a local cause, and put a big fat smile on your face as you splash down with your child. Attend movie night, sit on a picnic blanket, and meet other parents while enjoying the great things the town now offers.

Without support, these fun days and evenings will vanish, and that’s far from progressive. I’d rather my child look forward to town events versus staying hidden in a dark basement full of video games and Hot Pockets. If your hometown is finally making an effort to offer fun social events, be all in. Your kids will thank you for it.

2 | Forgive that a-hole from high school

We’ve all done and said things we aren’t proud of. It’s called being an idiot teenager. We did things because we were insecure, craved inclusivity, and were just plain immature. It was 20 years ago – time to get over it.

Everyone has been through their own crap, and now here we all are, right back where we started with little children of our own, so why not embrace the new life? The people you went to school with are probably the ones running the town events, involved in politics, on the PTA, teaching math or the local dance class, coaching some sport. Do we want our childhood prejudice to be the reason our child isn’t invited to a birthday party, or feels singled out from a group?

Personally, I don’t ever wish to be the reason my child is excluded from anything. Is it really wise to immediately hate on a person because of the kid they were two decades ago? Give them a chance. If they are still an a-hole, well, at least you tried, and they can go bite it.

While we’re on the subject, if necessary, forgive yourself for the kid you were. Whether you’re still embarrassed about being a geek, jerk, ruler of the hit list, stoner, wild partier, etc., just learn to laugh it off. So you were a silly, insecure teenager. The kid back then isn’t the adult bringing their child to the library today. Trust me, if you don’t make a big thing about how you passed out on some dudes kitchen floor in front of 20 people when you were 17, no one else will either. 

3 | Try not to be the political town crazy 

It’s fun to get up on a soapbox and yell about how things should be better: Our town isn’t doing enough of this or that; the taxes are high; and there are too many housing projects causing overpopulation, so soon the schools will be overflowing.

Let’s bitch about it on the town’s economic forum, and argue with the other residents who defend the budget and have their own list of far more unnecessary complaints! My husband loves to get into it with other blowhards as I sit next to him cringing, imagining the day our daughter wants to attend school with a bag over her head.

Yes, it’s great to fight for fair taxes, a better budget, more town events, etc. because everyone has ideas about making our environment a better place. Argue, but don’t get crazy. Don’t stalk the other townspeople’s personal lives, or tax and property records in an attempt to win debates. Making enemies, or becoming “that guy” isn’t necessarily paving a happy path for your increasingly aware child. Catch more flies with honey right? Do we really want to be the crazy political parents of that poor kid? I certainly do not.

4 | Support local vendors

Find any way you can to support the local retail shops, restaurants, and activity centers. I can remember a few times when the downtown area was filled with empty storefronts, which made for a rather depressing, ghostly drive down the main strip.

It’s pretty convenient having a sweet gift shop when in need of a last-minute present, a crafting space to bring the children, a grocery store five minutes away, and in my case, a plethora of pizza shops scattered everywhere in a two-mile radius. Want your kid to experience the same delicious slice you grew up eating? Hoping your teenager will find an after-school job close to home? The owners rely on your patronage to keep them afloat. These shop owners are our friends, neighbors, retired parents, and perhaps new residents. Give them a chance, and keep the town from becoming a dull ghost town your kid will run screaming from.

5 | Know that your kid is going to go through a phase when they will hate this town

It’s inevitable. There will come a time when my daughter is going to despise the town she’s growing up in. She’s going to look at us and say, “Why the hell did you move back here?” It’s going to happen.

Don’t regret moving back. The things that your kid hates are just things that every kid hates. They will deal with insecurity, acceptance, bullying, boredom, and “the grass is always greener” syndrome. They will, for a while, take everything for granted. I think everyone does. They would experience these feelings anywhere, but conveniently blame the place in which they are living. I did.

Eventually they will again learn to appreciate the town where they went from infancy to adulthood and perhaps even decide to stay to raise their own family; maybe even follow your lead in helping build the town’s spirit and economy even more. They will remember a fondness for the local pizza parlor, the yearly carnival on the green, and the tree-lighting ceremony. With any luck, eventually they will be grateful for the childhood you shaped for them, and look back on many memories fondly, much like I find myself doing today. No matter where they go, their hometown will always be their home, and that’s a beautiful thing.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

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3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

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4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

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7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

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

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Orange Is the New Black star Danielle Brooks is pregnant and frustrated. The actress took to Instagram this week to lament the lack of plus-sized options for pregnant people.

"It's so hard to find some clothes to wear today....Although I get to pregnant I still can't find no clothes. It's so hard to find some clothes when you're pregnant," she sings in a lighthearted yet serious video.

"It's so hard to find cute plus size maternity fashion while pregnant, but ima push through," she captioned the clip.

Brooks has been talking a lot this week about the issues people who wear plus size clothing face not just when trying to find clothes but in simply moving through a world that does not support them.

"I feel like the world has built these invisible bullets to bully us in telling us who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to look like. And I've always had this desire to prove people wrong—to say that this body that I'm in is enough," she told SHAPE (she's on the new cover).

"Now that I'm about to be a mother, it means even more—to make sure that this human being I'm going to bring into the world knows that they are enough," she said.

Danielle Brooks is the body-positive hero we need right now. Now can someone make her some cute maternity clothes, please?

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In prior decades, body image issues usually didn't hit the scene until kids reached adolescence. But thanks to social media, and our culture's relentless pursuit of thinness, we now have to find creative ways to teach young children how to develop healthy body images.

Before I dive into some practical tips to help kids improve body image, I want to first diminish any shame that you might be feeling if you have body issues of your own. It's so important to remember that you downloaded every internal message from somewhere else. Of course, it's critical to work on your own issues, but it's also important to know it is not your fault that you developed them in the first place!

So, whether you are struggling with your own body image, or you love your body, here are some tools to help your child feel better about the precious body he or she lives in:

1. Break the spell

How do you know if your child has a bad body image? Perhaps they've begun making negative comments about their size or shape. Maybe they are comparing their body to others. Maybe they are avoiding foods or activities they once enjoyed because they feel uncomfortable about their body.

Often the most common response a parent has is to reassure their child that they are “fine," or “beautiful" or “perfect." And while there is certainly nothing wrong with some reassurance, it simply may not be enough to overpower the cultural messages kids are surrounded by. Reassure them that they are perfect just the way they are.

2. Unkind mind, kind mind and quiet mind

This little menu of options encourages kids to identify and differentiate between three different thinking states within themselves. I refer to them as “mind moods." Try teaching your child about these three states of mind and brainstorming examples of each. For example, unkind mind = “I hate my thighs." Kind mind = “I love singing." Quiet mind = Peacefully resting or playing.

This will raise their awareness of their thoughts and help them to choose their mind moods more consciously. As they learn to turn up the volume of their kind minds and spend more time in their quiet minds, they begin to feel more present and peaceful.

Once you have helped your child identify their unkind mind as a distinct voice, they can then try on some different responses and see which ones help bring them some relief. Try asking them to write or say all the messages their unkind mind is saying and practicing using strong, soft, silly or silent responses. Kids can learn that their unkind mind is not all of who they are, and that it doesn't have to run the show.

3. Get to the root

This concept helps kids discover what triggers their body dissatisfaction. You can help your child by asking questions or taking guesses about what might have started their bad body image. For example, I helped one 7-year old get to the root of her body obsession by noticing it started when there was a death in her family. Right around that time, her best friend started talking about dieting, so she latched onto food obsession as a distracting coping tool.

Once we uncovered this, she was able to learn about healthy grieving and truly healthy eating (as opposed to what the diet culture deems as healthy—which can actually be unhealthy).

4. Mind movies vs. really real

Try asking your child to show you some things around them that are real (i.e. things they can see, touch or hear). Then ask them if they can show you one single thought in their minds. You can playfully challenge them to take a thought out of their head and show it to you or fold it up and put it in their pocket. This tool teaches kids how to be more present.

Of course, they might use their imagination to do this, but with some finesse, you can teach your child to distinguish between the mind movies that cause them stress and the really real things around them. This is an immensely helpful tool that will not only help them with body image (since body image is one long mind movie) but will also improve the quality of their lives in general.

5. Dog talk and cat chat

Many kids cannot relate to the concept of being kind to themselves but ask a child how they feel about their favorite pet, and a doorway to their compassion, kindness and unconditional acceptance opens. For non-pet lovers, you can ask your child to imagine how they would speak to a baby or their best friend.

Dog talk and cat chat can help teach youngsters how to take the loving words and tones they use toward a beloved pet, and direct these sentiments toward themselves and their bodies.

6. Do an internal upgrade

In addition to helping your child combat the messages they receive out in the world, you can also work on the messages they get in your home. Again, if you struggle with body image, it is not your fault, but you can work on healing—and not only will you feel more peace, but your child will benefit as well.

To the best of your ability, refrain from talking about foods as “good" or “bad." Refrain from making negative comments about your (or anyone else's) weight or looks. Refrain from praising someone (or yourself) for weight loss.

Practice welcoming your child's tears and anger without trying to change their feelings before they are ready. Practice eating all food groups in moderation. Foster a positive, grateful attitude about your body.

May you and your child feel comfortable in your bodies, eat all foods in moderation, move and rest in ways that feel good, and find abundant sweetness and fulfillment in life.

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Learn + Play

After a long day of doing seemingly everything, when our partners get home it kind of becomes a habit to ask, "How was your day?" In between prepping dinner, handing off the kids, finishing your own work, we don't exactly get much value from this question. Sure, it may open up the opportunity to complain about that awful thing that happened or excitedly share that presentation you killed at work—but it usually stops there.

I could do a better job of really talking in my relationship. After 12 years and two kids, sometimes all we can come up with post bedtime routine is, "You good? I'm good. Fire up the Netflix."

Here are 21 questions to dig deeper into your marriage after a long day—see where they take you!

  1. Did you listen to anything interesting today?
  2. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?
  3. How much coffee did you drink today?
  4. Will you remember any specific part of today a year from now? Five years?
  5. Did you take any photos today? What did you photograph?
  6. What app did you open most today?
  7. How can I make your day easier in five minutes?
  8. If we were leaving for vacation tonight, where do you wish we would be heading?
  9. If you won $500 and had to spend it on yourself today, what would you buy?
  10. If your day was turned into a movie, who would you cast?
  11. What did you say today that you could have never expected to come out of your mouth?
  12. What did you do to take care of yourself today?
  13. When did you feel appreciated today?
  14. If you could guarantee one thing for tomorrow what would it be?
  15. If we traded places tomorrow what advice would you give me for the day?
  16. What made you laugh today?
  17. Imagine committing the next year to learning one thing in your spare time. What would it be?
  18. Did you give anyone side-eye today? Why?
  19. What do you wish you did more of today?
  20. What do you wish you did less of today?
  21. Are you even listening to me right now?

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Love + Village

Alexis Ohanian has made a lot of important decisions in his life. The decision to co-found Reddit is a pretty big one. So was marrying Serena Williams. But right up there with changing internet culture and making a commitment to his partner, the venture capitalist lists taking time off after his daughter's birth as a significant, life-changing choice.

"Before Olympia was born, I had never thought much about paternity leave and, to be honest, Reddit's company policy was not my idea. Our vice president of people and culture, Katelin Holloway, brought it up to me in a meeting and it sounded O.K., so why not?" Ohanian writes in an op-ed for New York Times Parenting.

He continues: "Then came Olympia, after near-fatal complications forced my wife, Serena, to undergo an emergency C-section. Serena spent days in recovery fighting for her life against pulmonary embolisms. When we came home with our baby girl, Serena had a hole in her abdomen that needed bandage changes daily. She was on medication. She couldn't walk."

The experience changed the way Ohanian viewed paternity leave. It was no longer something that just sounded like a good thing, it was a necessary thing for his family. It was crucial that he take it and now he is advocating for more fathers to be able to. In his piece for the NYT Ohanian points out something that Motherly has previously reported on: It is hard for fathers to take paternity leave even when their government or employer offers it.

A report from Dove Men+Care and Promundo (a global organization dedicated to gender equality) found 85% of dads surveyed in the United States, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands would do anything to be very involved in the early weeks and months after their child's birth or adoption, but less than 50% of fathers take as much time as they are entitled to.

Dads need paid leave, but even when they have it social pressures and unrealistic cultural expectations keep them from taking it and they choose not to take all the time they can. Ohanian wants lawmakers and business leaders to make sure that dads can take leave and he wants to help fathers choose to actually take it.

"I was able to take 16 weeks of paid leave from Reddit, and it was one of the most important decisions I've made," Ohanian previously wrote in an essay for Glamour.

Ohanian recognizes that he is privileged in a way most parents aren't.

"It helped that I was a founder and didn't have to worry about what people might say about my 'commitment' to the company, but it was incredible to be able to spend quality time with Olympia. And it was perhaps even more meaningful to be there for my wife and to adjust to this new life we created together—especially after all the complications she had during and after the birth," he wrote for Glamour.

In his NYT piece, Ohanian goes further: "I get that not every father has the flexibility to take leave without the fear that doing so could negatively impact his career. But my message to these guys is simple: Taking leave pays off, and it's continued to pay dividends for me two years later. It should be no surprise that I also encourage all of our employees to take their full leave at Initialized Capital, where I am managing partner; we recently had three dads on paid paternity leave at the same time."

The GOAT's husband is making the same points that we at Motherly make all the time. Research supports paid leave for all parents. It benefits the baby and the parents and that benefits society.

By first taking his leave and then speaking out about the ways in which it benefited his family, Ohanian is using his privileged position to de-stigmatize fathers taking leave, and advocate for more robust parental leave policies for all parents, and his influence doesn't end there. He's trying to show the world that parents shouldn't have to cut off the parent part of themselves in order to be successful in their careers.

He says that when his parental leave finished he transitioned from being a full-time dad to a "business dad."

"I'm fortunate to be my own boss, which comes with the freedoms of doing things like bringing my daughter into the office, or working remotely from virtually anywhere Serena competes. My partners at Initialized are used to seeing Olympia jump on camera—along with her doll Qai Qai—or hearing her babbling on a call. I tell them with pride, 'Olympia's at work today!' And I'll post some photos on Instagram or Twitter so my followers can see it too," Ohanian explains.

"The more we normalize this, on social media and in real life, the better, because I know this kind of dynamic makes a lot of men uncomfortable (and selfishly I want Olympia to hear me talking about start-ups!)," he says.

This is the future of family-friendly work culture. Take it from a guy who created an entire internet culture.

[A version of this post was originally published February 19, 2019. It has been updated.]

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