A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

Confession: growing up I found team sports far too stressful to part take in. My anxious little self could only carry the burden of disappointing myself and possibly my parents. Therefore I steered clear of soccer, basketball, volleyball, and anything else that might make me mildly uncomfortable or stressed. What if I failed? What if I didn’t make the team? Got benched? Botched the winning play? I’m breathing into a paper bag right now just thinking about the plethora of negative outcomes my young mind conjured up. To involve nine or 10 other girls and their hypothetical judgement of me was just too overwhelming for my not-so-naturally-athletic-self.

I dabbled in softball until it came time to try out for varsity. Faced with the possibility of not making the cut, I opted for quitting. I attempted swim team as a diver. I was pretty bad and so I quit that too. I didn’t want to tell my mom that I’d abandoned the swimming ship, so my best friend and I would wet our hair and sit in the high school hallway for hours until pick-up time. She eventually discovered my ruse, because moms are no fools. Needless to say I was a fear-driven kid, only really attempting things I was confident I would succeed at.

Fast forward several decades and here I am raising a few die-hard athletes who are loving themselves some team sports. I’m so proud of them. They are fearless, social, encouraging, talented, and athletic, qualities that they most definitely inherited from their very sporty father. I watch them each week practice and play soccer with their team of like-minded girlies and I feel so grateful that they are reaping the benefits of playing team sports. They’re able to do what I never could and put themselves out there in the world of sports. They win, lose, laugh, and cry. They take risks on the field and sometimes they don’t pan out, but guess what? The girls rise above, learn, and try again.

Along with those risks and failures comes the success and pride of sticking with something and eventually seeing growth and progress. Here are six reasons you may want to consider letting your little sportie try out for basketball or soccer next year.

Team sports improve communication skills

Effective communication skills are something that your child will need and use throughout his entire life. Playing team sports is a fantastic way of introducing and practicing communication skills, both spoken and unspoken. Team players need to constantly be appropriately communicating with the coaches as well as team members. They ask questions, synthesize information, and work together to set up and execute plays. When kids practice these skills across environments such as at school, on the court, and at home, the skills become routine and in turn are no longer something that the child has to consciously think about doing.

Helps build confidence

It’s not always easy putting yourself out there in the sports world. I was one of those kids who was more than happy to be a wallflower when it came to recreational activities. However, playing on and competing with a team can give your kiddo the confidence she needs to go on and be successful in her future. Sticking with team sports can build your kid’s confidence by allowing her not to fear failure. Sometime you win, sometimes you lose. That’s life, get over it.

Team sports teach kids to focus on doing their best, not by being the best but being their best. Believe me there is a difference. Lastly, kids learn that practice does not make perfect, but it does make a difference. Practicing the sport’s skills can help your child feel more confident in what she is learning and applying to her sport.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T  Rah, rah give us more!

Remember back when you were growing up and adults were the ultimate bosses? Your side of the story didn’t really matter. If the teacher called home, you were in for it. We respected the teachers, coaches, and adults in our lives without question.

I’m not sure where that went, but respect for authority is a fleeting quality of today’s youth. Playing a team sport brings a bit of that important value back into our children’s lives. Players have to respect what the coach says. They don’t have to agree, but they need to swallow it down. If you talk back or throw shade at the coach, you might just earn a spot riding the pine for the rest of the game. I know it sounds a bit harsh, but I kind of love this. Maybe if my kids learn to follow directions and not to sass the coach, they will bring those awesome skills home with them!

Putting it all in perspective

Winning is a fantastic feeling; losing, not so much. Kids need to be able to feel both sides of the sporty fence appropriately and playing team sports gives kids plenty of practice at both. No one likes it when the winner of a game gets loud, too boastful, and braggy. Typically coaches will point this behavior out and help children to understand how to win and still feel empathy for the opponent.

The same can be said for losing. No one likes a sore loser and team sports help kids learn how to lose a game gracefully. Sure, kids will be sad and frustrated, but they won’t be aggressive and throw tantrums on the soccer field. That behavior won’t stand. Even if kids do try that jam, they will soon recognize that no one else is acting that way and adjust accordingly. Young athletes focus on what they did well, what they can improve on, and move forward as a team unit.

Team sports boost academics

Playing a team sport goes far beyond boosting physical fitness and ability, it just might have a direct correlation to higher academic performance in some students. A recent study out of the University of Kansas looked the student performance of high schoolers who participated in team sports. 97 percent of those student athletes graduated high school. Student athletes had lower dropout rates, higher class attendance rates, and high assessment scores compared to their non-athletic counterparts. Finally the myth of the “dumb jock” can get flushed.

Commitment to self and to others, and some good ol’ time management

When kids are part of a team, they recognize that their teammates and coaches are counting on them to be there. Even if they feel like sitting at home and watching television or playing Barbies, the pull to please others can be very strong. This is a valuable skill in the real world of adulting. When you work with others you carry your weight. What a great way to introduce this concept to youngsters!

Lastly is my favorite team sports benefit: time management. I have four small kids and we need to have our butts in gear at all times or we will never get anywhere prepared and on time. My oldest daughter is now in fifth grade and, because of team sports, she is the time management queen! She gets her homework done, practices her instrument, dresses for soccer, and eats her meals all before it’s time to leave for practice. Why? She loves soccer and she adores her team. Getting to practice is the thing she most looks forward to and she has figured out how to make that happen. No homework, no soccer. No eating dinner, no soccer. No chores, yep, you guessed it, no soccer.

The benefits of team sports for kids is limitless. They gain massive amounts of useful skills that they can apply to their education as well as their future endeavors. It might take some time dabbling in several recreational sports before your little one finds his or her “thing” but when it happens, it’s so worth it!

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

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.

Our Partners

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.


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.

You might also like:


[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.

You might also like:


[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.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.