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Our bodies are amazing. When pregnant, I’d say they are miraculous. Less than 72-hours after one romp of unprotected make-up sex, I knew I was pregnant with our second child. Highly unlikely considering I was 36 years old and it was only one time, but I knew I was pregnant. Even before the stick said “positive,” I began counting. Always a planner, I began counting the weeks and months figuring in my head an estimate of a due date. It was early December which meant only one thing: a September baby.


Like it or not, being a September baby is a thing. It became a tiny, lingering thought tucked into the back of my mind. Then I found out I was having a boy.

A September Boy. I was having a September Boy. I was already thinking way far down the road and clearly so was everyone else. As the years went by and the date grew closer, I could feel the other mothers shift uncomfortably when they would ask me the question, “What are you going to do about school?”

 

 

All of the moms I spoke with who held their late boys back, all were overwhelmingly happy with the decision. Several who didn’t, and whose sons had to repeat a grade, regretted having to go through that; as the social pressure was difficult. They specifically told me that if they had to do it all over again, they would have held him back.

They all encouraged me to think about holding him back because of the advantages he will have in the future. There were many reasons to consider: fine motor skills, ability to follow directions, maturity, and more. For some, the common theme had to do with the physicality of boys. They echoed the same sentiment: he will be older, bigger, faster, and taller; which will be way better than being younger, smaller, slower, and shorter.

Full disclosure –  I am an educator. I was a classroom teacher for years and now I am at the university level preparing students to become teachers. I hold a Doctorate in Special Education, which, by the way, has proven to be utterly useless when it comes to actual mothering. I know teaching, best practices, milestones, progress, and developmental appropriateness. I also know that today, Kindergarten is the new first grade. I also know our school. I also know what will be required of my September Boy. Just because I knew all of this, didn’t mean I knew what to do.

I decided to red shirt my September Boy but not for the reasons you may think.

Our school registration process starts in January and for months leading up to that date I was in a constant state of, Should I? or Should I not? If I start him too early there could be consequences. If I start him too late there could be consequences. Some days I was hoping for a third option. I knew I would have to rely on a solid mix of my professional knowledge coupled with what my September Boy was telling me. I would ultimately let him be my guide.

My September Boy is smart and very able, and certainly could have managed through the year starting Kindergarten at 4 years old. But in the months leading up to registration day, I realized that while he certainly could manage, I wasn’t totally sure that he really had to manage.

I watched him one particular morning, in his pajamas with the side of his head planted flatly against the hard floor, investigating the structural integrity of his Lego suspension bridge. He had a laser-like focus, studying his structure, thinking and strategizing his next block. He would test his engineering prowess with a line of 13 tanker cars pulled by his favorite powerful steam engine.

In that moment, I saw it. This was no longer a decision that I had to make, instead, it was a decision that I could make. I saw that my September Boy had the gift of time, and I was determined to give it to him.

For the next year, we gave him the gift of time. He had one more glorious year to be little.

He could have started on-time and left the house every morning by 7:15am. Instead, he and I lingered in our PJs until about 8:15am and leisurely drove to preschool. (The long way, of course.) He could have started on-time and faced more seat time and less play time. Instead, he enjoyed another year of unstructured play, lots of dress-up, and most Fridays at home. He could have started on-time and figured out bathroom stalls, long hallways, and how to balance a full cafeteria tray. Instead, he enjoyed lunches and snacks delivered to his classroom and learning how to pour his own milk.

Like it or not, there are certain demands placed upon our school-aged children. These demands are exactly what made being born in September way more than just being born in September.  While I am not necessarily ready to fight the status-quo, I can certainly do what it takes to protect my child from the effects of it.

I decided to red shirt my September Boy and it was absolutely the right thing for us. As our school year is approaching the end, I see that giving him the gift of time was the best gift we could have given him. He started school when he was ready, which translated into being confident, happy, and excited about learning.

He loves school in a way that I doubt he would have felt without having had the extra time. I definitely gave him an advantage, but not one that had anything to do with his future physical abilities. I have no idea if he will be bigger, taller, or faster than the other boys in his class, and quite frankly, I’m not sure that I care. What matters to me now is that he is a happy, vibrant, little boy who adores school and I’ll take happy over fast any day.

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Ah, back to school time. The excitement of a new year for our kids and the impossibly busy schedule for their mamas. Anyone else get to the end of the day and think, "What did I even DOOO today, and why am I so exhausted?" 🙋

Luckily, finding a system to help you plan out your days can help reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life—which we are all for.

Here are eight planners we love that'll quickly take you from "What is happening?!" to "Look what I did!"

1. Day Designer

Day Designer

The Day Designer is great for staying on top of your super-packed days—and doing it in style. You can keep track of goals for your personal and work life...

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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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A new school year is looming and while a lot of parents are looking forward to seeing their kids take the next steps in their education, many of us are not looking forward to getting everyone back into a weekday morning routine.

Mornings can be tough for kids and their mamas. One of our favorite celebrity mamas, Kristen Bell, does not deny that mornings with her daughters, 5-year-old Lincoln and 3-year-old Delta, aren't easy at all.

"It's miserable," Bell recently told POPSUGAR. "It's awful no matter who's doing what. And I'll tell you right now, the 3- and 5-year-old aren't doing jack."

Anyone who has ever tried to wrangle a preschooler out of their pajamas, to the breakfast table, then into their school clothes and backpack at seven o'clock in the morning knows exactly what Bell is talking about. She says some days are better than others, but it's hard to know what level of kid-induced chaos you're gonna wake up to on a weekday.

"It depends on their emotional stability, it depends on their attitude toward each other, toward life," Bell told POPSUGAR. "It depends on their developmental stage."

Luckily, Bell has got some backup. She's been open about how she and her husband, Dax Shepard, practice a tag team approach to parenting, and sometimes, Bell gets a chance to tap out of the morning routine. Unfortunately, Shepherd's later schedule means it doesn't happen as often as she would necessarily like.

"I don't want to say that I do more mornings than he does, but if you were to check the records, that's probably what you'd find," she told POPSUGAR.

If, like Bell, you're really not feeling mornings with the kids, there are a few things you can try to make things a little easier on yourself, mama.

1. Change the conversation

Instead of saying "hurry up" or "get in the car, right now,"try to mix up your vocabulary a bit.

If there's a need for speed, remind the kids that it's time for "fast feet" or that you're racing to the car.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you might consider sharing that with your kids. Let them know that mama's got a lot to do this morning and that it would be a huge help if they could make sure their water bottle is in their backpack.

2. Make breakfast ahead of time

If cereal isn't your jam or your kids need something hotter, and more substantial in the morning, cooking up breakfast can be a major hurdle on hectic mornings.

Check out these Pinterest perfect make-ahead morning meals, like breakfast enchiladas or egg muffins, and make mornings a bit easier on yourself, mama.

3. Bring some Montessori into your mornings

Help your kids take control of their AM destiny by bringing some limited choices (like clothing) into the morning routine and allowing for natural consequences (like having to settle for an apple in the van because they missed breakfast) but also allowing for fun with mom.

"Try doing something simple, with clear boundaries, such as reading two books before it's time to start the morning routine. If they're ready early, you can spend more time together, which is also a great natural incentive," writes Montessori expert Christina Clemer.

Here's to a less stressful AM routine for Kristen Bell and the rest of us mamas. Just because it feels miserable today doesn't mean it will be tomorrow. There is hope, Kristen!

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It was a year ago when I was pregnant, parenting a highly-spirited preschooler and also working a full-time job while trying to maintain a part-time side business when I got to the point of I have had enough.

I can't remember exactly what the trigger was, but like most times, it wasn't just one thing but a build-up over time that culminates in a massive meltdown.

You see, I was not getting much appreciation or validation for all of my contributions. This was a time when my partner, too, was working full-time and in graduate school two evenings a week. It was stressful for everyone, but, as the wife and mother, I carried the family through it by tending to the little details: the pick-up and drop-offs, the shopping, the cooking, all the minutiae of everyday life.

So, after perseverating on my laundry list of seen and unseen responsibilities, I decided to sit down with pen and paper and make a "day in the life" list from wake-up to bedtime that showed my partner exactly what my day entailed—a day that supported two other people in the house and one in the oven.

Even I was surprised to see all of the things listed out in 15-minute increments. On paper, it actually looked even worse than it felt. I thought to myself about how much physical, mental and emotional energy I expend in this hectic season of our lives. And I didn't regret it for a minute.

However, back to my original complaint…I still wanted to be validated for it. I needed to be seen for both the implicit and explicit tasks and expectations in my day-to-day.

So I handed my list over to my husband, expecting him to be awakened to the fact I was indeed working in overdrive and for him to be grateful for all the ways that I take so many burdens off of him so that he can be successful in school and his career.

Instead of that, his response almost put me into a state of shock. He read over the list and then said, "I know. You are Superwoman."

His words, like kryptonite, left me speechless. Part of me knew that his intent was for this to be a compliment, but it felt so invalidating. It completely missed the mark, and instead of leaving me feeling appreciated, I felt less understood.

Superheroes have innate superpowers that I imagine they use with ease. In fact, they are expected to use their powers and perhaps that is their sole purpose. No one ever looks to a superhero and asks, "Do you need a break?" And as a feminist, I sure as heck believe women are strong and powerful. But the idea of being labeled a "superwoman" did not feel empowering.

I already know I am efficient, capable, strong and fierce. But, I am also fatigued, sometimes overworked and underappreciated, and worst of all expected to be the one that keeps it together for everyone else.

What I learned about through my research of who Superwoman really is was this: her powers always wear off by the end of the story. Turns out these so-called "superpowers" really are temporary. That I can relate to.

I am only human and there are days and weeks where I feel on top of the world, days where I can manage it all with ease. I can be up all night nursing a baby, take both kids to school, and show up on time for a 9:00 am meeting with a French pastry I baked from scratch. I can push through the exhaustion and demands every day…until I can't.

And it's not just my spouse who uses this label. I have well-meaning girlfriends who have also tossed the term out there as if it was meant to be a feather in my cap.

When things get tough, I appreciate the texts of support my girlfriends send me. Even when they are far away, it's nice to know someone cares when everyone in your house has the stomach flu while your partner is out of the country. It's comforting to be able to share the ups and downs of trying to balance a career with a growing family.

But when the text comes in and says something like, "I don't know how you do all that. You are a supermom!" I feel like there should be an auto-reply that says, "Connection lost."

The thing is, I don't want to be elevated to superhero status for living my life. It is not heroic and it's probably not too far off from what every other devoted partner and mother provides their family. But, this is what I think we need, what we are starving for. We need someone to say, "How are you doing?" or, "What have you done lately to care for yourself?" or, "Thank you for all that you do and who you are."

Those are the kinds of words that let me know I am seen and make me feel validated when I am working the hardest. They let me know that the people I love the most see me, and not a cape.

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