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7 Simple Lessons My Kids Have Taught Me About Living Life

Before I had children I was a freelance writer for small local magazines in San Diego. I worked when I wanted to work, slept in late, and spent a lot of time taking my dog on long walks on the beach. My husband and I bought a new construction home, providing a blank slate from which I could slowly create the house of my dreams.

During those years before children, much of my free time was spent fretting over little things like: Would the creeping thyme that I planted grow in full sun or would it die? Where would my next travel destination be? Should we go out to dinner or eat in?

By my early 30s, I had a 3-year-old and infant triplets. My life had changed so dramatically from those carefree, childless days that sometimes I was depressed. I had to discover who I was and what I wanted out of life all over again.

There are certain undeniable truths about being a parent that people will tell you before you are one, but you won’t understand: you will have to be selfless, you won’t get as much sleep, your marriage will change.

What my kids have taught me about myself have been monumental. They’ve shown me who I really am. And their ability to bring out the best (and the worst) in me has, in itself, been an important life lesson.

Here are seven others:

1 | Play more, worry less.

Life as a parent has become increasingly hectic with competitive sports becoming the norm, parents who work long hours to afford nice houses and cars, and an over-reliance on technology keeping us glued to our screens. All of these things are what make up 21st century living. But they don’t have to make up our entire lives.

My children have taught me the importance of slowing down and the importance of play. My brain tells me I don’t want to play, I don’t like to play, I don’t have time to play. But when I concede to dropping whatever I am doing and sitting down to play cards, build Legos, or color with my kids, my day gets a little easier. Some days we go outside for a walk or bike ride together, or play hide-and-seek at the local park.  

As adults, we get caught up in the big adult responsibilities of life and sometimes we forget what it’s like to play.

2 | Carpe diem, baby!

Out of everything I am learning from my kids, this is the biggest struggle for me. I have learned that it is difficult for me to appreciate the moment I’m in. It is hard when you are a mom in the monotony of life to live in the moment. To appreciate the moment when that moment is frantically driving kids around to their next extracurricular activity.

But the moment is all we have. It’s all the moments that really matter the most. If we don’t learn to enjoy the little moments, then we will let life go by without truly enjoying it. Kids know how to live in the moment, and they show me every day that I need to stop thinking about what is next on the agenda and enjoy what is happening at that very moment.

3 | Drop the tech and listen.

My phone is my lifeline. By that I mean I work from it, my calendar is on it, I make phone calls with it, and I connect socially using it. My phone often feels like an addiction that I need to go to rehab for: just as a crack addict needs one more hit of the drug, I feel like I need to look at my phone every minute.

Some of my most guilty mom moments are when I realize that my children have been trying to talk to me but I am reading a text or an email, completely shutting them out of my technology bubble. It takes a conscious effort everyday to put the technology down and really appreciate that face-to-face interaction and show the people I love that they have my undivided attention.

4 | Unconditional love.

Friendships ebb and flow throughout the cycles of life. Marriages fall apart. Even family feuds can lead to the estrangement of relationships. But we are forever a parent, responsible for loving and caring for another human being, one we brought into this world.

I don’t always agree with some of the things my children do. Sometimes I wonder how they were born from me since we have such different personalities. Despite anything they ever do or who they become in life, I will always love them because they are my children.

5 | Marriage is more than love.

I have learned through having kids that marriage is so much deeper than love and sex and having fun all the time. Most of us get married because we have common interests with someone, we are sexually attracted to them, we fall in love. After we have kids, perhaps we have to work harder to maintain these components of marriage, but new things become important as well.

My husband and I have grown more connected through friendship and teamwork. We don’t always agree on parenting tactics, but we are always a united front. And because we are in the trenches of parenthood together, there is an allegiance that breeds respect for one another.

6 | Be a better person.

Before I had kids, life was all about me. I did whatever I wanted, when I wanted to. Being a parent has taught me that life isn’t all about me. We are all living on this planet together and so we should endeavor to make the world a better place. I teach my kids about recycling, water conservation, giving to others, sticking up for the underdog, working hard and trying your best. As I teach my kids how to be good citizens of the world, I am also teaching myself.

7 | Don’t forget your dreams.

Before I had children I thought that having children would complete my life. I thought that it was all I needed to fulfill me as a person. What I learned after having children is that I needed to find my own passions and dreams independent of childrearing.

Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I no longer get to have my own life. While it’s true that most of my time is spent taking care of my children, I make sure to prioritize my personal relationships, passions, and dreams into my life. I nurture my personal relationships by going on trips with my husband and friends. I take care of my body by going on walks and practicing yoga. And I’ve fulfilled a lot of my dreams in the past year through writing essays and books that have been published. My kids are not my whole life, they are a beautiful extension of my life.

Parenthood is far more difficult than I anticipated it would be. I have learned that there will be days where I feel like a supermom, and other days I will feel like worst mom in the world. Some days I can do it all with a smile on my face, and other days I feel like I wasn’t cut out for the job. The beautiful thing is that my kids love me on the good days and the bad days. In that way they have taught me about true love and acceptance.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna


2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna


3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95


4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
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5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

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With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

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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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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