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It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: your child gets a bump, a bruise, or has a pain that doesn’t go away. You’re sure that it can’t be serious, but in the back of your head you wonder. What if this time it’s more than growing pains, a simple headache, or general fussiness? After several doctor’s appointments, you hear those four dreaded words: “Your child has cancer.”


For too many families, this nightmare is a reality. One in 285 children is diagnosed with cancer by age 20. Parents are left frightened by questions of whether their children will live to see their next birthday. Will they make it to kindergarten or high school graduation? If they do live, will they suffer from significant long-term effects? Shaun, whose son had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, expressed what many parents feel by calling the diagnosis “an unreal whirlwind.”

It’s easy for the rest of us to feel like there’s not much we can do. After all, we don’t have the cure for cancer in our back pocket. But the families affected by childhood cancer see things much differently. They not only see ways for us to help, but they believe that we can truly save lives. Here’s how:

Donate blood

Childhood cancer changes the context behind community blood drives and phone calls from donation centers. When your child has cancer, blood donations shift from being nice in theory to immediately pressing. Most types of cancer require blood and platelets transfusions, either from the cancer itself or from the accompanying treatments. Blood donors may only take a few hours out of their day, but they can literally infuse health into the veins of sick children.

Ruth Grace relied on many blood and platelet transfusions during her intense chemotherapy treatments. Her body became too weak to make healthy blood cells on its own, and she was left in a life-threatening situation. Blood transfusions saved her. Her mother is forever grateful for blood donors, saying, “Thank you for saving my baby’s life. Without you my daughter would not be here today. Your donations meant that our daughter had the opportunity to see her ninth birthday.”

Ruth Grace, from Manchester, UK, diagnosed with osteosarcoma at age 8.

Sign up for the bone marrow donor registry

For some kids, including many with leukemia or lymphoma, a bone marrow transplant is their only hope for survival. This often means relying on the kindness and health of strangers. By joining the registry at BeTheMatch.org, you have the potential to literally save a life. The process is free and simple: request a kit, check your mail, swab your cheek, and send it back. If you are ever matched to a patient, the donation only requires a simple procedure and a short recovery.

Kaylen is alive today thanks to a donor on the other side of the world. He and his family are deeply grateful for his donor as well as everyone who signs up for the registry. His mom says, “thank you so much from the bottom of my heart… because of you I have my son.” Kaylen encourages all to “please consider signing up to be a donor… children and adults like me who don’t have a match in our family depend on total strangers who could save our lives.”

Kaylen, from New Hampshire, diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at age 10.

Help a family directly

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it quickly becomes the family’s biggest focus. Their schedule is filled with tests, appointments, and treatments. They rarely get a chance to cook a meal or clean their home. Frequently, one parent needs to take a leave of absence at work or even quit their job to care for their child. If they have other children, they need to find childcare while they spend time at the hospital. Support from family and friends is crucial as it enables their children to get the medical care that they need.

Friends and family stepped up to care for Marlee’s siblings when she was in the hospital, and her mom said it was “such a life-saver.” She also recommends giving gift cards for gas or meals. She says, “Clean their homes. Make them freezer meals for their families back at home. Soap, toothbrush, snacks, lotion, hairbrush, etc. These things are invaluable to families who may live far from their hospital.”

Marlee, from Arkansas, diagnosed with nephroblastoma (Wilm’s tumor) at 9 months.

Support the cause

Childhood cancer is devastating to a family physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. There is a huge need for more research and better treatments, as well as better quality of life for the patient and family. By attending an event or donating to a fundraiser, you can bring hope to children and parents across the world. You can fund groundbreaking research, provide financial support for patients, or send kids on the trip of a lifetime. The hope and strength given to families, along with the advancement of medicine, is truly life-saving.

Simon’s community in Utah hosted a fun family event to raise money for his cancer treatments. The family is also passionate about childhood cancer research. Simon’s mom said the love and support was “very humbling” and enabled them to get through tough days. She encourages all to “help however you can! Nothing is too small.”

Simon, from Utah, diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma at age 4.

Spread awareness

Because there is no routine screening for childhood cancer, early detection is key. For some, the first symptom of cancer is a growing bump. For others, it’s pain, easy bruising, headaches, paleness, or loss of energy. Spreading childhood cancer awareness saves lives by teaching parents to pay attention to their children’s bodies. It also invites more support for research to advance treatments for children. Simply sharing the message with friends on social media and in real life could save a child’s life.

After Elizabeth’s cancer treatment, she began assembling makeup bags for teenage girls with cancer. She is passionate about helping children with cancer and promoting awareness for the cause. She says, “By spreading more awareness we can get that much closer to finding better treatments… My purpose in life is to be someone who helps make a difference in others’ lives as well as fighting for a cure.”

Elizabeth, from Arizona, diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at age 13.

Please, take the time to help save a child’s life for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month this September. Children across the world are counting on us. Share the message on social media and become an advocate for the cause. You never know which child will be next, and our children’s lives are worth everything.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.


The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

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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Many people experience the "winter blues," which are often worst in northern climates from November to March, when people have less access to sunlight, the outdoors and their communities. Another 4% develops Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of clinical depression that often requires formal treatment.

If you have the winter blues, you may feel “blah," sad, tired, anxious or be in a worse mood than usual. You may struggle with overeating, loss of libido, work or sleep issues. But fear not—it is possible to find your joy in the winter, mama.

Here are eight ways to feel better:

1. Take a walk

Research has shown that walking on your lunch break just three times per week can reduce tension, relax you and improve your enthusiasm. If you are working from 9 to 5, the only window you have to access natural sunlight may be your lunch hour, so head outside for a 20 minute brisk but energizing walk!

If you are home, bundle up with your kids midday—when the weather is often warmest—and play in the snow, go for a short walk, play soccer, race each other, or do something else to burn energy and keep you all warm. If you dress for the weather, you'll all feel refreshed after some fresh air.

2. Embrace light

Research suggests that a full-spectrum light box or lamp, which mimics sunlight, can significantly improve the symptoms of the winter blues and has a similar effect to an antidepressant. Bright light at a certain time every day activates a part of the brain that can help restore normal circadian rhythms. While light treatment may not be beneficial for everyone (such as people who have bipolar disorder), it may be a beneficial tool for some.

3. Plan a winter trip

It may be helpful to plan a getaway for January or February. Plan to take it very easy, as one research study found that passive vacation activities, including relaxing, "savoring," and sleeping had greater effects on health and well-being than other activities. Engaging in passive activities on vacation also makes it more likely that your health and well-being will remain improved for a longer duration after you go back to work.

Don't overschedule your trip. Relax at a beach, a pool, or a cabin instead of waiting in long roller coaster lines or visiting packed museums. Consider visiting or traveling with family to help with child care, build quiet time into your vacation routine, and build in a day of rest, recovery, and laundry catch-up when you return.

4. Give in to being cozy

Sometimes people mistake the natural slowness of winter as a problem within themselves. By making a concerted effort to savor the slowness, rest and retreat that complement winter, you can see your reduction in activity as a natural and needed phase.

Research suggests that naps help you release stress. Other research suggests that when your brain has time to rest, be idle, and daydream, you are better able to engage in "active, internally focused psychosocial mental processing," which is important for socioemotional health.

Make a "cozy basket" filled with your favorite DVDs, bubble bath or Epsom salts, lemon balm tea (which is great for “blues,") or chamomile tea (which is calming and comforting), citrus oils (which are good for boosting mood), a blanket or a favorite book or two. If you start to feel the blues, treat yourself.

If your child is napping or having quiet time in the early afternoon, rest for a full 30 minutes instead of racing around doing chores. If you're at work, keep a few mood-boosting items (like lavender spray, tea, lotion, or upbeat music) nearby and work them into your day. If you can't use them at work, claim the first 30 minutes after your kids are asleep to nurture yourself and re-energize before you tackle dishes, laundry, or other chores.

5. See your friends

Because of the complex demands of modern life, it can be hard to see or keep up with friends or family. The winter can make it even harder. While you interact with your kids throughout the day, human interaction with other adults (not just through social media!) can act as a protective layer to keep the winter blues at bay.

Plan a monthly dinner with friends, go on a monthly date night if you have a partner, go to a book club, get a drink after work with a coworker, visit a friend on Sunday nights, or plan get-togethers with extended family. Research suggests that social interactions are significantly related to well-being.

Realize that given most families' packed schedules, you may need to consistently take the lead in bringing people together. Your friends will probably thank you, too.

6. Get (at least) 10 minutes of fresh air

A number of research studies have shown positive effects of nature on well-being, including mental restoration, immune health, and memory. It works wonders for your mood to get outside in winter, even if it's just for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. You might walk, snowshoe, shovel, go sledding or go ice-skating. If you can't get outside, you might try these specific yoga poses for the winter blues.

7. Add a ritual

Adding a ritual to your winter, such as movie night, game night, hot chocolate after playing outside, homemade soup on Sundays, or visiting with a different friend every Saturday morning for breakfast, can add beauty and flow to the seemingly long months of winter. Research has suggested that family rituals and traditions, such as Sunday dinner, provide times for togetherness and strengthening relationships.

8. Talk to a professional

Counseling, which helps you identify the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, can be extremely helpful for the winter blues (especially when you are also experiencing anxiety or stress). A counselor can assist you with identifying and honoring feelings, replacing negative messages with positive ones, or shifting behaviors. A counselor may also help you indulge into winter as a time of retreat, slowness, planning, and reflecting. You may choose to use the winter to get clear on what you'd like to manifest in spring.

The opposite of the winter blues is not the absence of the winter blues—it's taking great pleasure in the unique contribution of a time of cold, darkness, retreat, planning, reflecting, being cozy and hibernating. Nurturing yourself and your relationships can help you move toward winter joy.

Weary mama,

You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.

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In the space between birth and raising a baby is a mama who is rediscovering who she is and letting go of what she was. Except there is no road map that guides you on this unknown path. There is only the void, the feeling of overwhelm that comes at the juxtaposition of new motherhood, where piecing together our past and present seems like a disjointed collage.

With this space brings a tide of emotions that ebb and flow as you become acquainted with this new person birthed alongside your sweet babe. Pregnancy is just the beginning of a transformational journey that is motherhood.

But when that void is met with fear, lacking support, and confusion, it is easy to feel like you are grappling in the dark unknown. It is common to feel like you have lost yourself, like you no longer recognize the person that was when you look in the mirror. And that can be a frightening feeling.

New identities, postpartum bodies and weight loss

Coupled with this transition are the gnashing messages that play to our fears: "Get your body back," "Lose the baby weight," creating an illusion that the way to rediscover who we are is by returning to the body that once was.

This is the trap we easily fall in during our most vulnerable moments, in the identity crisis of crossing into motherhood. We are defined by how quickly we lose weight or if we get back into those pre-pregnancy clothes. In the space of the unknown, taking charge of our body size and weight gives a pseudo-sense of control; when in fact, we are seeking a defining sense of self when everything we once knew has changed.

When diet culture takes on the disguise of control, familiarity, and wellness during a time of change and uncertainty, it's no wonder we cling to its false promises, even after everything our bodies have shown to be capable of in the growth and birth of new life.

In its sneaky way, diet culture takes on many different forms, like fasting, skipping meals, cutting out food groups, counting macros and so on. It becomes easy to justify these things for the sake of wellness, but any way you are manipulating food to somehow trick your body to think it needs less nourishment falls into a dieting mentality.

Postpartum dieting is not healthy

Wellness in postpartum has been watered down to mean weight loss, which puts more value on the appearance of our bodies as opposed to its functioning. This dangerous mentality can cause poor body image and overall body dissatisfaction, which is connected with many potential problems postpartum.

Postpartum moms often see themselves as needing to lose a certain amount of weight, which has been shown to trigger body image concerns, increased mental health issues, and eating disorders.

Research has also found that high levels of body dissatisfaction in the postpartum period may be connected with disordered eating behaviors and lower breastfeeding self-efficacy. In many ways, the pursuit of weight loss in postpartum and putting greater emphasis on appearance over function of our bodies could create a vicious cycle that negatively affects both mother and baby during a critical time of development.

Could it be that the overwhelming desire to lose weight after having a baby is related to something deeper, like the fear that is connected with a loss of identity? Is the possibility of regaining your pre-baby body mean more about finding yourself again?

As women, the postpartum period is a time when we are experiencing tremendous change (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc), coupled with pressures from society to meet unrealistic appearance standards. Focusing on weight loss as a solution for "control" during such a stressful time can only further complicate things.

What if you could take a step back and figure out how to redefine new motherhood without focusing on weight loss postpartum? What if you took dieting out of the equation? How could you best support yourself and be kind to yourself during this vulnerable time of transition in postpartum?

Redefining postpartum wellness

For starters, here are some ideas for things you can do to support your postpartum recovery and healing, while being gracious to yourself during a time where there is increased pressure to make health mean dieting or getting down to a certain weight through ways that can be self-sabotaging.

Honor your postpartum body be eating intuitively

Research has found that new mothers who follow a more intuitive style of eating actually had greater postpartum BMI and weight decreases. More importantly, postpartum women who practice intuitive eating principles have positive improvements in mental health and lifestyle behaviors. Tell me which diet can offer that to a postpartum mom?

Respect your postpartum body with gentle movement

A majority of new moms who feel pressured to lose weight may engage in exercises that are actually harmful to their body that is recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. Instead of punishing yourself at the gym or rigid exercise program, move your body in ways that feel good to you in order to reap maximum benefits.

Celebrate with a postpartum closet edit

Hanging on to clothes that don't fit your changing, postpartum body will only worsen your body image and make you feel bad about yourself. Take the time to go through your closet and get rid of clothes that no longer fit your current body, style, or the season of life you're in. A postpartum closet edit can free up so much mental space to focus on what really matters and support a positive postpartum body image.

Let go of unrealistic expectations

There is no denying the internal and external pressures we face to change our bodies in the postpartum period. But what if you could let go of some of those unrealistic expectations? Choosing to care for your body by not forcing an arbitrary standard of weight loss does not mean you are letting yourself go. It means you are proactively being kind to yourself and your body for all it has brought you though.

Do you deserve anything less than that?

The postpartum transition is one of the most grueling times we experience as mothers, and the added pressure to lose weight only makes things more difficult. By being gentle with yourself and caring for your body, mind and spirit, you are creating a secure foundation from which you and your family will blossom.

In the process, you will learn to become better acquainted with the new mother birthed along this journey. You will find that within her is sound wisdom and innate sense of worthiness that has always been there. You just need to give yourself care, compassion, and time to bloom where you have been planted in this new season of life.

In the end, when you step back and look at the big picture, you will realize that those mismatched pieces you were piecing together have in fact created a mosaic, a stained glass picture of your one and beautiful life.

Originally posted on Crystal Karges.

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