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Being Facebook friends with your child is complicated. I feel for the parents whose children reject their friend requests. I understand that some parents don’t want to be “friends” with their kids. I get that they may not want to get sucked into teenage drama and want their children to have a place of their own, but personally, I think that being Facebook friends with my kids is a great thing.

It gives me a window into their world

I have a great relationship with my kids. They talk to me and I know a lot about them and their interests. I know who their friends are and have been welcome to spend time with them on occasion. But Facebook provides a new perspective. Through shares and likes, I have discovered things we have in common that have not come up in regular conversation. Observing their interaction with their friends is likewise revealing. I become familiar with names that may not otherwise have been mentioned.

They learn that Mom and Dad are people too

As children grow into teens, they come to the realization that parents are separate beings and are quick to remind us of that. However, they neglect to realize that we have our own interests and friends as well. On Facebook, they get the opportunity to see some of these friendships in a new context. The friends we don’t get to see often due to distance are frequently important in our lives and I think it is good for our kids to see how friendships can last a very long time. There is sometimes also a hint of our former teenage years in these communications. I have also noticed that my likes and shares have sometimes sparked conversations with my kids of the “Really, I like that too” variety.

Some level of editing occurs

Having a friend on Facebook that you may not want to see certain parts of your life makes you think twice about posting it. This goes both ways and I think it is a good thing. Sitting in front of a screen, too many of us forget the scope of the internet. If you don’t want your parents (or kids) to see that photo or that status, maybe it is too personal to post at all. You get in the habit of thinking before clicking.

It gives them an easy way to say “Hi!”

Sharing and tagging stories, memes, photos, etc. can be an easy way to say “I am thinking of you.” My kids know I have an affinity for otters and anytime they see a cute otter video they will post it on my wall. Likewise, when I see something that I know they will like or makes me think of them, I share with them. (Note: Sometimes these go in private messages. My

goal is to say “I am thinking of you,” not to embarrass my children.) Yes, it is possible to share such things with those you are not friends with on Facebook, but it requires extra steps and in all honesty, is sometimes not worth the time.

When they are younger, they need guidance

While I don’t advocate stalking and hovering over older teens, I think many new Facebook users could use some gentle guidance. Especially with the amount of internet safety education that goes on in our schools, I am always surprised how many young teens have their entire Facebook life open to “public” and have listed personal details such as home address and phone number. As with everything else in these teen years, parental oversight should be reduced as they get older and gain competence.

Facebook communication doesn’t get lost

Communicating with them where they are makes it more likely they will get the message. Although we also use text, Facebook has been a platform for sending messages to my kids that I know will be seen. I have even been known to set up “events” to make sure they all save the date for family get-togethers. (I got some ribbing for that, but it got the date on their calendars.) I also tell them about these things in conversation, but Facebook has a nice way of reminding them regularly.

Cryptic messages spark real conversation

On occasion, I have seen things on Facebook that I found a little disturbing, perhaps even alarming. It is very easy to take things out of context. A status of “I hate my life” can mean someone is in danger and you need to intervene, or it may mean that someone overslept and is angry at him or herself. Either way, checking in will help. There is no substitute for real life communication.

As with most aspects of parenting, being Facebook friends is something left for those involved to decide. For me it works. I struggle with the balance: how to stay in touch without getting too involved. So far, they haven’t threatened to “unfriend” me, so I guess I am doing okay.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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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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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas


Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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