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We all have to work. It didn’t used to be that way. There was a time when it was perfectly feasible to support a whole family on one income, but not anymore.


In most modern families, Mom and Dad both have to spend the better part of their days at work just to make enough for the family scrape by. We spend our days in cubicles or worksites, miles away from our children, and it can feel like we’re hardly getting the chance to see our children grow up.

It’s tough when you don’t get to be there for your children, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make every moment we get count. Being there for our children is important, but it’s what we do when we’re with them that really matters. There are ways for a parent who’s never home to make the most of the time they have.

1 | Clear your head before walking through the door

My whole family can tell when I’m thinking about work. That’s partly because of how I am – I tend to mutter to myself and gesture with hands when I’m thinking – but they’d know anyway. They understand me better than anybody, and when my body is at home but my mind is still at work, they can tell.

I like to tell myself that I can be present with my family and figure out a problem at the same time, but I can’t. Human beings aren’t actually capable of multitasking, we can just do a lot of things in a row really quickly. This means that when I’m thinking about work, I’m not really listening to my son. I’m just planning on tuning into him soon.

That’s why it’s important to clear out your mind before you come in. There might be a lot of big problems at work, but write them down so you can deal with them when you have time. Let them all go and don’t let yourself think about anything other than your family, because they know.

2 | Keep dinner sacred

When Dad’s running late at work, a lot of parents don’t bother waiting. The kids get their meal on time, Dad takes a microwaved Hungry Man meal in front of the TV, and everyone avoids a lot of grumbling. It’s a practical solution for most people, but you might not realize just how much it costs.

Family dinnertime is one of the best things a family can do. It’s the main time most families bond. It’s a moment when everyone sits down and talks together, sharing experiences, problems, and perspectives, and getting a new insight on every one of them.

The benefits are incredible. Family dinnertime exposes kids to more new words than reading. It improves their health, makes them more resilient against stress and depression, improves behavior and self-confidence, and, most of all, keeps the family together.

So if Dad comes home a little late, give the kids a snack and wait for him. It might be frustrating, but it could save your marriage and your kids’ mental health.

3 | Let them help

Doing chores doesn’t have to be time you spend apart from your kids. It’s one of the best bonding experiences you can give your children and, most of the time, they’ll love you for letting them help. Kids are fascinated by all the things we can do that they can’t. They hate the feeling that there are things they can’t do, so when they see you cook or fix something, they’re dying to help.

That goes for mechanical work, too. I realized this while fixing my son’s bike. He was so fascinated and eager that he kept trying to climb over my knee so he could watch. At first my instinct was to tell him to give me a little space, but instead, I handed him the wrench.

It was a chance to teach him how to be self-reliant and how bicycles work. More than that, it was a bonding experience. It was time he got to spend sharing a common interest with Dad, and that helped us grow a little closer.

4 | Exercise by playing

I don’t have time to go to the gym. Some people might call me out on that, telling me that if I really cared about my health I’d make time. That’s just the problem. If you’re going to the gym, you have to make time, and you can only make it by giving up time with your kids.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up on your health. By the time your kid’s three-years-old, you can at least get in a full cardio workout while bonding with your kids. All you have to do is play with them.

Granted, a three-year-old isn’t exactly going to run a marathon with you, but there are ways to push yourself harder than your kid. My son and I race laps around the local square, him on a bike while I chase after him on foot.

This is more than a chance to bond, it’s a chance to show your kids that health is important. It’s nearly guaranteed to make them more active and healthier throughout their lives, and it keeps you close at the same time.

5 | Keep a bedtime ritual

Some parents don’t even get time to share dinner with their family. For a long time, I had a horrendous commute. By the time I made it through the door, my son’s head was hitting the pillow, ready to fall asleep. The only moment I got with him was his last moment awake.

I had to make it special. If I didn’t want him to forget I existed, I had to make our bedtime ritual something he looked forward to all day long. Every night, we’d brush our teeth together. We’d chat while he got into his pajamas, and then we’d read together. Books became our thing. They became such a part of his life that he was reading by the time he was three.

We’ve never stopped, even now that he can read on his own. I plan on reading to him every night until he begs me to stop. It’s one of the best you can do together, and if you take the time to talk about what a book makes you think about, it can do more than just improve their reading – it can give you an insight into how your child sees the world. Asking him what he did that day will never match it.

6 | Make them part of your hobbies

Parents need to take a little time doing the things they like. A cranky, tired, and depressed parent isn’t doing the children any favors. We don’t just have the right to do things that keep us happy, we have an obligation to our kids.

That doesn’t mean we always have to cut our kids out. There are ways to work in time with your kids while doing something you love. As part of my son’s bedtime ritual, I play him guitar after wishing him a good night. I indulge in a hobby I no longer have the time for, while my son gets to feel closer to me.

As he’s gotten older, I’ve been able to involve him more directly. We put him in music lessons and it’s paid off, because now I get to play music with my son. I get to accompany him while he practices his songs, and he’s even learning how to improvise in a jam session with his dad.

That’s what we tend to forget: spending time with our kids doesn’t mean we have to give up time for ourselves. We can do things for us and for our kids at the same time, and it’ll just bring us closer together.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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[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.

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[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.

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