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I recently lost it with my kids. And by lost it, I mean tears, lots of them, streaming into the pancake batter I was stirring — yum.


At 6 a.m., my 4-year-old came into the bedroom, “Mama, we’re ready to get up!” he said. After I hauled my 32-week-pregnant belly out of bed, I found him on the top bunk with a piece of paper. “It’s a list, just like in Frog and Toad!” he said, his eyes bright. My boy had crossed off “wake up” and “get mama.” Next on the list was, “get dressed.” Across the room, in his crib, my 2-year-old was lifting his butt up in the air in a down dog position and then collapsing and giggling.

But within 15 minutes, everything turned, like a storm cloud unleashing hail in my kitchen. “Mama, I want breakfast!” my 2-year-old yelled. “What would you like?” I asked. I’m pretty sure he said pancakes, but when I repeated pancakes, he said, “NO!” and started to cry. He cried for 20 minutes, stopping occasionally to scream about his milk cup, “GET IT FOR ME!”

Then my 4-year-old lost his list. “Mama,” he said, his lower lip trembling. “I can’t find my list, will you help me?”  I tried to help him, but then my 2-year-old, still crying and following me, wanted me to hold him. Then the 4-year-old wanted milk. And then, I’m pretty sure I heard my in-utero boy crying too.

You know what I wanted? I wanted to eat. And man did pancakes sound good. I was trying to add ingredients to the bowl when I couldn’t take it anymore. My husband got out of the shower and saw me — mussed up hair, red eyes. “Are you OK?” he asked, wrapped in a towel. I shook my head. “You aren’t going to quit the team, are you?” Our little joke always makes us laugh, but that morning, I bowed my head and the tears flowed.

Mornings like these are rare and they sap every ounce of my soul — and all I can do is cry. But over the past four years, I’ve discovered a few skills to help me be a better mom to my nonsensical toddlers.

1. Focus on the positive – and cultivate my own interests

I used to be a journalist, but then we relocated to the California desert for my husband’s job when my first child was 11 months old. It was hard to leave a job that I loved, and even harder to leave friends. And now I was a (gulp!) stay-at-home mom, something I never expected (and soon loved). But I knew that I would have to find something that fulfilled beyond motherhood.

I practiced photography and won an amateur photo contest for capturing a hummingbird hovering at a feeder. I learned how to crochet and made a blanket I now snuggle under. I took every pottery class I could find — and am close to opening an Etsy shop. If I do one thing a day for me, it helps me relax and not resent having left a career to be at home.

2.. Let go of the little annoyances

I have learned to let go of the small things that drive me crazy — well, mostly. One recent annoyance: My 4-year-old loves to do projects with Scotch tape, and before I know it, he has used the whole role in one sitting, taping together construction paper in all different shapes. “Look mom, it’s a dinosaur!”

It used to irritate me, because Scotch tape isn’t cheap, and because when I need it, I can never find it. But I decided to change my mindset: Scotch tape is better than any toy I can buy for him. And why would I discourage creativity, independence, and an activity that’s good for his development? I realized that I needed to buy more Scotch tape, put some away for me and then let him be his little awesome self.

3. Think about how I nourish myself, and my kids

With more than two cups of caffeine, my patience goes down the drain with the egg shells. It’s the same with too much sugar – once it wears off, my energy dwindles and I’m less capable of handling whining or meltdowns. My 4-year-old probably thinks I’m the sugar police, even though he always gets a treat after dinner (and yes, we do sometimes go to Starbucks for chocolate milk in the morning).

But I often find myself saying things like, “I’m not buying that for you, it has too much sugar.” And, “No, you may not have the leftover orange juice our guests left here — it’s full of sugar.” Maybe it will come back and bite me someday, and my son will binge on sugar as a teenager. But for now, full tummies of mostly healthy foods keep all of us as calm as can be — until we’re tired.

4. Read something positive and supportive about parenting every day

On Facebook, I follow Janet Lansbury, who wrote No Bad Kids among others, because her method resonates with me. And that means I read a blog post about parenting every single day. (Yes, sometimes I’m that mom looking at her phone and ignoring her kids so I can find out how to be a better mom – oh the irony!)

The posts are usually about slowing down, cultivating patience, and remembering this time spent raising children is short. Sometimes the post serves to remind me that I’m the adult, and my kids are just that — little kids. Reading these daily posts helps to keep me sane.

5. Ignore the kids and see what happens

Often I’ll disappear into the other room — a little, “Now you see me, now you don’t!” — and see what happens. I’ll stand in a doorway, spying on them, suppressing any cough or sneeze, or even holding my breath.

More often than not, the kids surprise me. My 4-year-old will get out the play dough and help his little brother. Or they’ll quietly play trains together. Or I’ll hear, “I WANT IT!” from my 2-year-old, and a negotiation will ensue, followed by giggles. Being a little bit hands-off can yield great results — and those few minutes of stolen time help me feel normal again.

6. Get outside

It’s true that I think fresh air is important for the kids, and I put a premium on it. But the truth is, it’s good for me, too. And what’s good for me, is good for them.

I spend time getting dirty in the garden, or taking them on hikes in the foothills. I’ll find any excuse to be outside, with the kids in tow. Generally, we’re all the happier for it.

7. Always, always, always remember they’re just little kids

Like the ticker on CNN, I have a banner that runs through my mind. They’re the same words and I see them all day long, “They’re just kids!”

So when they ram one of those tiny shopping carts into my heel at the grocery store, and I want to pummel them like I would have an opponent on the soccer field 20 years ago, I stare at that ticker in my mind, “They’re just kids!”

Instead of following my initial reaction and being aggressive, I calm down and respond reasonably, reminding them to be careful. But I try not to yell, or go on about just how much it hurt, or the inevitable bruise I’ll have on my heel. They’re just kids, and they didn’t mean to run me over.

Or did they?

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Whether you're filling out your own registry or shopping for a soon-to-be-mama in your life, it can be hard to narrow down what exactly new moms need (versus what will just end up cluttering the nursery). That's why we paired up with the baby gear experts at Pottery Barn Kids to create a registry guide featuring everything from the gear you'll use over and over to the perfect gifts under $50.

Check out the picks below, and happy shopping (and registering)!

MUST-HAVE BABY GEAR

These five gift ideas are designed to make #momlife easier while solving some of the most common parenting dilemmas.

1. Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller

One of the first things you learn when you become a mom? Those infant car seats are heavy. Which is what makes the Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller so genius. It's the world's first completely integrated mobility solution, quickly transforming from safe car seat to functional stroller without any extra parts. Simply pop out the wheels, pull up the handle bar, and you're ready to roll.

Doona All-in-one Infant Car Seat / Stroller, $499

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GIFTS THAT CAN BE PERSONALIZED

Even the most utilitarian gift feels a little more special with some personalization. Here are some of our favorite options that can be customized with baby's name or monogram.

1. Nursery Blankets

You'll never forget the blanket you bring your newborn home in. And with Pottery Barn Kids' assortment of blankets, there's a wrap to suit every new mama's style. Choose from fuzzy neutral patterns or stylish printed options, and add baby's name for an extra personal touch.

Nursery Blankets, Starting at $39.50

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GIFTS THAT GROW WITH THEM

Save money and space by gifting items that will last long after baby's first year. These clever gift items will have mama saying "thank you!" for years to come.

1. west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib

A convertible crib is an investment in years of sweet dreams. We love this mid-century-style option made from sustainably sourced wood with child-safe, water-based finishes. When your baby outgrows their crib (sniff!), it easily converts into a toddler bed with the matching conversion kit.

west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib, $399

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GIFTS UNDER $50

Sometimes the littlest gifts mean the most. Here are our favorite gifts under $50 they'll be sure to cherish.

1. west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set

When you're raising a newborn, you can never have too many swaddles. Perfect for naptime, burp cloths, stroller covers, and spontaneous play mats, a muslin swaddle will always come in handy. And we especially love this neutral patterned collection in platinum, nightshade, and peacock.

west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set, $45.50

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Learn more and explore all Pottery Barn Kids' registry must-haves here.

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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They say there's no use in crying over it, but for pumping mamas, spilled milk is a major upset.

When you're working so hard to make sure your baby has breast milk, you don't want to lose a drop, and Chrissy Teigen knows this all too well.

The mom of two posted a video to social media Wednesday showing her efforts to rescue breastmilk from a tabletop. She used various utensils and a syringe to try to get the milk back in the bottle.

"I spilled my breastmilk and this is how important it is in this house," she says while suctioning up milk with what appears to be a baster.

In a follow-up video Teigen continues to try to rescue the spilled milk.

"We're trying," she says as she suctions up a drop or two. "I got some."

Teigen is currently breastfeeding baby Miles, her son with husband John Legend, and has been very public about the fact that she pumps a lot as a working mom.

She's also been open about the fact that milk supply has always been an issue for her, not just with Miles but with Luna, too.

"I actually loved [pumping] because I'm a collector of things, and so when I found out I could pump I [did it] so much because I knew the more you pumped, the more milk you'd make," she told POPSUGAR back in March. "So I loved collecting my breast milk and seeing how much I could get, even if it was very, very little."

Like a lot of moms, Teigen did struggle emotionally when a pump session wouldn't get her the ounces she wanted.

"I wasn't producing a lot of milk, and it was frustrating. When you're frustrated, [it can also make you] not produce that much."

Research backs her up. Stress has been linked to lower milk production. Because of that, she's trying to stay positive this time around, but captioned her video post "EVERY DROP COUNTS IN THIS HOUSE" because, well, they do.


So many mothers can relate. Have you ever tried to save your breastmilk?

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What is it about networking that's just kind of...awful? Typically inconvenient and often awkward, formal networking events rarely yield the results most women (and especially mamas) are looking for.

Whether you're reentering the workforce post-baby leave or simply looking to make a complicated career switch as a busy mom (or just struggling to juggle play dates and professional meetings), making the right connections is often a hurdle that's difficult to surmount. And more and more often, networking comes up short in providing what moms really need.

When time is truly at a premium—a session swapping business cards can be hard to prioritize. Shapr wants to change all that.

Designed with busy people in mind, Shapr is an app with an algorithm that uses tagged interests, location, and professional experience to match you with 10-15 inspiring professional connections a day. You swipe to indicate interest in networking with any of them, and if the interest is mutual, you're connected. (But don't worry, that's where the similarities to that dating app end.)

It makes it easier to connect with the right people.

From there, you can chat, video conference, and even meet in person with potential mentors, partners, and investors while growing your real-life network. No more wasting hours trying to pick someone's brain only to discover they don't have the right experience you need. And no more awkward, stilted small talk—even suggests a few preset icebreakers to help get the conversation rolling more quickly.

The best part? You could do virtually all your connecting from your couch post-bedtime.

It simplifies switching careers or industries.

Sysamone Phaphone is a real mom who was fed up with traditional networking options. When she quit her full-time job in healthcare to pursue founding a startup, she quickly realized that in-person networking events weren't only failing to connect her to the right people, they were also difficult for a single mom of two to even attend. "I was complaining to a friend that I was so tired and didn't know how I was going to keep doing it this way when she recommended the Shapr app," Phaphone says. "I tried it right there at dinner and started swiping. [Later], in my pajamas, I got my first connection."

From there, Phaphone was hooked. Her network suddenly exploded with developers, potential partners she could work with, and even people to hire for the roles she needed. She was also able to connect with and empower other women in tech. Now, checking in with Shapr connections is just part of her routine. "I look for connections after drop-off at school and on my commute into the city," she says. "Then after bedtime is done, I go on to check if there is anyone I've connected with."

It helps you find a mentor—no matter where they live.

Another common roadblock Shapr removes? Location. While you probably wouldn't fly to LA from New York for a networking event, the Shapr app lets you connect and chat with the person who best meets your needs—regardless of where they're based. Even better for parents, the "mom penalty" many women contend with when trying to get back into the workforce doesn't exist on Shapr—if you have the right experience, the connections will still come.

To connect, simply create your account, enter up to ten hashtags you want to follow (either industry related like #film or #tech or by person you're seeking, such as #developer or #uxui), preset what you're looking for (investors, collaborators, etc.), and indicate how you prefer to meet. To connect with more people at once, Shapr also has community groups within the app around interest topics that you can join. And even though the connection begins in the digital space, it often results in the in-person experiences mamas crave.

"I wish I could encourage more moms and dads to use it because it has been a lifesaver for me," Phaphone says. "It empowered my career and career choices, and it provides so much convenience. I can put my kids to bed and not go to an event, but still meet 20 people in a night."

For women looking to grow their business, position, or simply achieve a little self-growth, Shapr is changing the way we connect. This powerful new app could change everything, mama. Download it today to get started.

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