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I will admit to feeling more than a little apprehensive these past few months. If anything will make you more political, it’s becoming a parent. Suddenly I’m not just invested in decisions about my own life. I’m worried about a whole generation from now.


It’s hard to know where to start with affecting any change at all. We’ve been talking a lot in our house about love and letting the love inside our hearts be more powerful than other feelings. These are things my small children can understand.

But talking about the very real and very imminent threats to our environment is a little harder. How do I tell them that I’m worried for the earth they will inherit? How do I tell them that the planet they grow up on and pass on to their own children is less rich, less diverse, and less wild than the one I enjoyed when I was little? And do I tell them that it’s our fault?

There are hundreds of ways that we can affect positive change for the environment every day. But the single most important change we can affect as parents is the generation we raise. If we want to save the planet, we need to raise children who will speak up for it, take action, and stand against the destruction of natural resources.

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Saving the planet isn’t going to be easy. Here are five ways parents can help:

Talk about feelings

It’s no secret that developing empathy starts at home, but have you ever thought of it as a skill that goes hand-in-hand with conservation?

Empathy begins before your child is even verbal. It might seem ridiculous to scoop your tantruming toddler off the floor and croon, “You are frustrated. I can tell how frustrated you are because you can’t have that fork. I get frustrated when I can’t have something that I want, too.” As strange as it may feel at first, naming emotions and relating these emotions to others, will become second nature to a child whose caregivers model empathy for him from an early age.

Empathy does not end with human interaction. It also extends to nature and the natural world. Humans, after all, are not the only living things with needs. Kids who practice empathy are more likely to perceive themselves as having positive connections with nature. They are also more likely to participate in nature-based activities and environmentally friendly practices.

Begin to build empathy from a young age by naming the emotions that your child is experiencing. As she grows older, get her thinking about how others are feeling, too. Kids can build empathy for nature and the environment through simple acts, like feeding birds, planting seeds, or picking up litter. Discussing the whys of these simple actions will drive home their importance.

Take your children outside to play

Over the past two years, the benefits of outdoor activity have become a regular part of the parenting conversation. The physical and mental benefits of outdoor play have been well-documented, and even health practitioners are becoming more and more likely to recommend time outdoors as a part of everyday physical and mental preventative healthcare.

But not much has been said about the way these experiences shape our children over the long term. The greater benefits to the community are less often discussed. Not surprisingly, kids who play outside regularly are more likely to become the environmental stewards of tomorrow.

The roots of emotional affinity are planted in childhood. You know how the smell of fresh baked cookies brings you straight back to playing with Legos on the floor of grandma’s kitchen? Or how the old dusty baseball diamond behind Town Hall still draws a nostalgic smile as you imagine tapping the bat on home plate one more time?

These memories stay with you because of their positive associations, and they evoke positive emotions long after they’re gone. By letting your kids experience nature, especially in its wild state, they naturally develop emotional connections with the natural environment.

You can make the impact even stronger by teaching your child about local ecology and wildlife. Kids exposed to wild settings through hiking, camping, and playing in the woods develop a deeper connection to nature than kids who play on playgrounds or parks. Take your children to the woods and let them run wild. Teach them about the plants and animals they see.

Kids who form an early emotional affinity for wildlife, nature, and outside recreation are more likely to grow into adults who exhibit environmentally-positive behaviors (like recycling and use of alternative energy) and are more likely to identify as conservationists. They grow into adults who are willing to spend time, energy, and even money to protect the natural world.

Recognize real science

From the youngest age, your children look up to you. You have a limited window during which they take your word as gospel. A tooth fairy that flies into rooms at night to replace baby teeth with hard cash? Yes. Vegetables that make you able to see at night? Sure. Mommies and daddies and everyone else all go to bed right now, too? Definitely.

While you still have their attention, make sure you impart some basic, important wisdom as well. For example, start here: climate change is real. Even if nothing changes, the planet is in big, big trouble. If you think your child is too young to learn about climate change, don’t worry. The conversation starts simply with science.

Teach your child to recognize and appreciate science. Reinforce the validity of real science. On a daily basis, this means talking about the science in our lives. You can read books about weather, explorers, or technology. Create a sense of reverence and respect when talking about science. Encourage questions about the natural world or scientific phenomena, and look up the answers together. As you do so, narrate the types of sources you’re seeking. Talk about how to decide if a source is valid or not.

Climate change scientists insist on the importance of presenting facts to young children in an age-appropriate way, while taking special care to do so without being too pessimistic. Michael Mann, climate scientist and author of the 2012 book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”, discussed how he talks to his daughter about climate change with The Yale Forum.

Mann proposed that “we must gradually introduce our children to the natural world and the environment, and the threats to it that currently exist because of what we are doing. But we must provide hope and optimism, make sure they can envision a brighter future.” 

Envisioning that brighter future starts with a realistic idea of what we’re up against.

Use and discuss logical consequences

It’s important to make connections between our actions and the results, both immediate and long term. An easy way to start making these connections with your child is to use logical consequences in your home.

Here’s how it works. Did your child draw on the walls? Instead of putting her in timeout, try telling her that she’s no longer allowed to use her art supplies without a grown-up until she earns back your trust. This is not a punishment. It’s the logical consequence of her choice to misuse her crayons.

It works both ways. Did your child do a faster than usual job of cleaning up toys tonight? Tell her that with the time saved by cleaning so quickly, she can choose an extra story before bed. She will learn that when she takes care of her responsibilities without dragging her feet, she has more time to do the things she enjoys. Connecting actions and consequences, both good and bad, is important if we want to raise kids who will think about long term consequences.

At the same time, teach kids how to affect positive changes in their immediate environment. Pick up litter, plant a tree, grow your own food, or start practicing some small hikes to build up to a big one. When children are empowered to take action on behalf of the environment and understand the power of their actions, they are more likely to participate – and continue participating – in those pro-environmental behaviors.

On the other hand, children who aren’t educated about their environment are more likely to exploit it.

Get rid of stuff

We are a nation of consumers. It’s easy to get caught up in the race to have the best things, the biggest things, the most things. Consumption fuels industry, and the industry in our world is almost maxed out. Do your part to curb consumption and live more sustainably by opting out of the consumer race.

Kids aren’t immune to consumerism. In fact, advertising companies target them in particular. The youth-marketing industry is a multi-billion dollar market. The popular documentary, “Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood”, claims, American children now influence an estimated 700 billion dollars in annual consumer spending.

By purging unnecessary belongings, raising kids who are grateful, and modeling that people and experiences matter more than material things, we can raise kids who don’t buy into the standard consumer dialogue.

Raise a savvy consumer who recognizes the ways in which he’s being targeted by advertisement. Inspire conversations about the difference between wants and needs. Talk to family members about limiting the amount of things that comes into your house for birthdays or holidays. Instead of giving out flimsy plastic favors at a birthday party, give out seed packs or host a book exchange.

Kids who learn to be media-smart will be less likely to fall into the consumer trap. Instead, teach them to fix things that are broken, to pass on items that they no longer use, to accept hand-me-downs from others, and to never, ever judge their worth or someone else’s based on material belongings.

The world we will pass on to our children isn’t the one we grew up with. If we want to take responsibility for that, we need to give our kids the tools they’ll need to affect the change we haven’t.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

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

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The phrase "women can have it all" has always left a sour taste in my mouth. Sure, our options for fulfillment extend beyond the home. But between wage gaps, the astronomical cost of childcare, student loans and ever-rising living costs coupled with shrinking wages, can we have it all?

Some women know their calling is at home with their babies and they make it work. They budget like it's an Olympic sport and find resourceful ways to save money. Many women are single mothers and are the sole earners in their homes. Every household has different needs and we absolutely deserve to choose whatever best fits our lifestyle.

Whatever that fit may be, it never encompasses "all."

I knew from a young age that I loved babies and wanted a family of my own, but that vision always included me working. Maybe it was the 90's TV boom of Ally McBeal and Detective Olivia Benson but I knew I wanted a career. I wanted a purpose that contributed to the world outside of my home. I knew I wanted a degree or two, maybe three. The fact that I made up my mind so early and never wavered, made me sure that "mom guilt" was something that other women felt; women who maybe felt the pull to be home but other circumstances were in their way.

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Mom guilt wouldn't hit me, I'd be immune, I thought.

Fast forward to the first month I went back to work from maternity leave. I ugly cried on my way into the office so frequently that I kept makeup in my car so I could fix it before going inside.

I'd dive headfirst into work until I had to pause to pump. Work, pump, work, pump, shove in some lunch at my desk at some point and sprint out the door to get my baby. I was productive but distracted. When I was at work, I wanted to be home. When I was home, I thought about the possible mistakes I had made at work.

I was in a job that was full of stress, last minute late nights, terrible pay and no appreciation. But from the standpoint of working and having a family, I had both. I had it "all."

Some days, I felt as though I was maybe just ungrateful for all the responsibilities I had to juggle. I blamed my attitude.

Facing my unhappiness at work and the baggage I brought home to my daughter and husband weighed on me. Then, six months postpartum, I lost my dad. I packed up that baby and flew home to say goodbye.

At the visitation, his colleagues shared many memorable stories, but the ones that kept coming up were his dedication to his wife and six children. They were memories of my sisters and I hanging out in his office, coloring while our mom worked. In fact, one of my masterpieces, a mosaic Great Dane, still hangs in my dad's old office window on Court Street because the owner of the building watched us grow up and didn't have the heart to take it down when he retired.

Dad was an attorney who nearly always made it home by 5:30, something unheard of in the world of owning your own practice. He didn't live to work; he worked to live.

I realized that when I leave this world, I don't want anyone to tell my children stories about how hard I worked. I wanted them to tell my children stories about how much I loved them and that they always came first. I had to make a change.

The right doors opened in the next month and I eagerly took on an entire career change (not something I necessarily recommend with a 7-month-old, but we made it work). I closed the doors of childhood ambitions that didn't match with the type of mother I wanted to be. It wasn't sad, it was liberating.

My new job included work from home days and a team of women, mostly moms, who value hard work and success but prioritize family and their roles as mothers. That attitude starts at the top of the company and trickles down. It was a breath of fresh air after seven months of feeling like I was suffocating.

Despite these life changes, I still don't have it "all." What I do have is realistic expectations for what I can accomplish in a day.

I have a house that looks like it's been ransacked Monday through Friday. I have a sink full of dishes.

I have a car littered with smashed cheddar frogs and peanut butter smears. I have a bedroom containing endless laundry baskets of clean clothes that get folded and put away maybe once a month.

I have a supportive partner whom I madly love and helps me rage clean all of the above when we can't take it anymore. I have a happy, healthy daughter who couldn't care less about dishes, laundry and dog hairballs.

I have a job that contributes to the betterment of humanity and a team who makes office days a joy.

I have women in my ear sharing their disdain for me working out of the home, but I also have women in my ear championing me as a mother, wife, homemaker, and career woman.

Maybe the answer to finding that peace was leaving a toxic job. Or maybe it was found in losing my dad and having my daughter in the same six months. Perhaps it was the priority shift that followed those changes. It could have been extending the same grace to myself that I so willingly give to those I love. Whatever it was, I'm grateful to have found it so I can enjoy living in our good old days, today. I don't have it all, but I really love everything I have.

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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