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After separations, feuding couples can fall into the trap of using electronic devices to continue communications with one another, often with hostility. This is particularly the case in acrimonious separations. A lot of this is to be expected when a relationship breaks down. People need to vent their hurt.


However, if the hostility continues, it turns into harassment and abuse. People use their children as an excuse to continue texting their ex, but there’s really no need. Try to accept that the relationship is over, and parent as best you can without your ex’s input.

The following are ten commandments of texting etiquette for separated parents:

1 | Thou shalt never start a text message with “once again you…”

If you’ve ever received a text starting with those ominous words, “once again,” you understand why this is a definite no-no. Those innocuous words hide so much meaning. Whatever follows “once again” is irrelevant; what’s relevant is the intention.

The intention is to have a go at something the other parent has done, not once, but again and again and again. Chances are, texts like these are entirely self-serving, designed to make the sender feel better and annoy the receiver, and are not in the slightest child-focused.

Remember, by annoying the other parent, you’re not acting in the best interest of the child or children. Quite the opposite. The annoyed ex will get prickly, maybe even mouth off at the sender in front of the children, leaving them to feel bad or as if they were to blame.

Don’t send that text. If you have to, write it down to get it out of your system, and then throw it in the bin shortly thereafter.

2 | Though shalt not send hostile or controversial text messages

Messages of this nature only inflame an already volatile situation. No one responds well to abuse. You don’t like to be abused, and neither does your ex. Whatever has upset or angered you will pass.

Go for a walk, jog, or swim, but do not mouth off at your ex via a text message.

3 | Thou shalt not use text messages to stoke a fight

If your ex keeps sending you messages to insult, annoy, or anger you, don’t respond. As tempting as it is to instantly fire off a suitably irate response, it will serve no purpose other than to keep the fight alive. Responding fuels the fire, and we all know what happens to a fueled fire. It grows, sometimes into giant proportions. Stop now.

Feel free to vent without engaging with your ex. Maybe write a suitably vile and offensive response on a piece of paper and then send that piece of paper through the shredder. Watch with satisfaction as the words are minced into tiny pieces.

Don’t worry if your ex keeps sending you messages. He or she will soon grow tired of the one-sided conversation and eventually stop.

4 | Thou shalt not send text messages, period

Sending more than 10 texts a day is definitely too many. Sending more than 10 texts a week is also too many. Even if you share children, sending any texts at all is too many.

There’s really no need to keep a channel of communication open. As noted above, the messages don’t actually relate to the kids anyway. When you feel the need to text, stop, think, and put the phone away.

5 | Thou shall practice brief and friendly responses

Bill Eddy, a lawyer and psychologist, has developed a method of communicating in writing he calls the BIF response: Brief. Informative. Final.

In practice, it would go along these lines:

John wants his son Tom to come camping with him on a weekend that’s not his typical weekend, which also happens to be the weekend Tom’s maternal grandmother is celebrating her 80th birthday.

Emma, Tom’s mother, has already replied to John’s request, but John keeps sending nasty and abusive text messages, the last one being, “Once again, you are denying me time with my son. You are deliberately stopping him from seeing me. The court orders clearly state additional times as agreed between the parties. How can I have additional time if you never agree? If you keep this up, I will take you back to court.”

A BIF response to John would look like this:

Dear John,

I have considered your request to spend extra time with Tom, but since it is Grandma’s big birthday, I don’t think it’s in his best interest to miss out on this family occasion.

I’m sure there will be other occasions when the two of you can go camping.

Regards,

Emma

Once the response has been sent, there’s no need to engage in any further correspondence. Remember to be polite in your reply.

6 | Thou shall text the other parent about medical emergencies

If you’re paying attention, you will see that this is a contradiction to Commandment Four. However, courtesy among exes dictates that you inform each other of any medical emergency the child or children may suffer.

A stubbed toe, a bruise on the shin, or a scratch on the arm are not medical emergencies, nor is sunburn or a mosquito bite. If you’re unsure of what constitutes a medical emergency, please consult a doctor.

7 | Thou shall text if a child is on medication and transitioning into the other parent’s care

Again, common sense should prevail, but in high-stress situations, it pays to spell things out.

If Tom is going to spend the weekend at Dad’s house and is taking antibiotics for an ear infection, make sure to let Dad know. Give specific details about the dose and frequency. Don’t lecture. Stick to the facts. Don’t rely on young Tom to tell Dad about the medication.

Similarly, if Ella returns from spending the weekend with Dad and had to visit the doctor, let Mom know. Include who treated her and what medication was prescribed.

8 | Thou shalt not set ultimatums in text messages

Ultimatums are not a good idea at the best of times. They’re worse when put to the other parent via text. Best to steer clear of them.

Any type of negotiation should be done with the assistance of a professional mediator.

9 | Though shalt not use text messages to make demands

If a parenting plan or set of court orders clearly lays out when the child(ren) will be in each parent’s care, there’s no need to exchange text messages about pick-up or drop-off times.

If running late, you may send a text message informing the other parent of this. Don’t use that communication as an opportunity to diverge into something else, i.e. the other parent’s perpetual lateness, demands for a change in changeover location, etc.

10 | Though shall spell-check your text messages before sending

Okay, you’ve typed the message and are about to press send. Stop. Re-read your message and make sure there are no spelling mistakes in it.

We’ve all sent or received texts with spelling mistakes. In the context of everyday communication, a spelling error here or there is no problem and sometimes even funny. But in the context of an acrimonious ex-exchange, a misspelled word can lead to an increase in abuse leveled at the other person.

Here’s a simple example:

He was sick today.

Now imagine if you misspell “sick,” replacing the “s” with a “d.” The meaning is vastly different.

A quick read of your message before you send will ensure mistakes and misunderstandings are minimized.

Adhering to one, some, or all of the above commandments will lead to calmer waters between you and your ex. Eventually, even the most persistent texter grows weary of a one-way conversation.

If all else fails, change your number and don’t share it with your ex. Your old number and device can become the dedicated “child phone,” only used when said child is in the care of your ex, the texter.

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.

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$799.95, Nuna

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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Yesterday at Target I stood in line behind a Mom with two screaming kids. One clung to her leg while the other, a brand new baby, wailed from her arms.

I am not used to being the one who is not the parent of the screaming child.

This was uncharted territory.

I identified with her painfully and I wanted desperately to affirm her. I wasn't sure what to do except smile and look as nonjudgmental as possible. I tried to think of what I could say, like, should I shout above the screaming, “YOU'RE AMAZING!!" Or should I go in for a fist bump, “You got this!!"?

Before I could process what my awesome, pro-mom, non-judgey response was going to be the mom turned to me with desperate eyes, “I'm sorry, um, can you hold her?" She held out her crying infant towards me.

“YES!" I said eagerly. As I took her precious one in my arms, the little girl made eye contact and then wailed. I bounced her gently and put her pacifier back in her mouth, feeling such an intense solidarity with this mama.

“I have four," I offered, hoping to reassure her that she hadn't chosen a psychopath.

“Me too," she smiled.

“Target with kids is hard," I said, “how old is she?"

“Four weeks," she smiled with postpartum exhaustion in her eyes, “thank you so much," she took back her baby and I watched her walk away.

No…thank you. I thought.

I have been the woman in the checkout line more times than I can count.

I've stood sweating in this woman's exact position, barely commanding the tears to wait until I got to my car. I've felt my face grow red and hot as my toddler screamed and kicked, waking up my baby who was angry and ready to nurse. I've felt so alone and so out of control.

I've thought I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS. I AM DOING SOMETHING WRONG AND EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT IT IS EXCEPT FOR ME.

I've pretended to be calm and cool while inside I felt like I was suffocating. I've felt embarrassed and emotionally naked in front of an audience of spectators. In my mind people were waiting and expecting me to GET IT TOGETHER.

But as I rocked this baby I thought, in those moments, there were probably people just like me who were longing to lighten my load and whisper—hey, I get it, I've been here too—you're doing a great job.

This mama was brave.

She let her guard down and because of that, gave me a gift. She redeemed a thousand of my own frantic check-out moments by letting me be a part of hers. She let me join her village and reminded me that I'm not alone.

I am not the first one to walk this road and I will not be the last. There are grandmas, great grandmas and great great grandmas that have gone before me. There are mamas whose kids are older than mine and who are navigating junior high and high school. There are those who are right where I am and those who have brand new babies.

Whatever stage I find myself at, I will not find myself alone. This is a weathered road we travel.

I'm not the only parent whose kids have thrown tantrums in Target, I'm not the only one to have her kids tell a lie, I'm not the only Mom to lose her temper. I'm not the only one to have a son who struggles with reading, or the only one to have a child scream I HATE YOU. I am not the first and I will not be the last.

We really are a part of a village, a part of something much bigger than just ourselves and there are women all around us who simply get it.

Chance brought me one of my people, a sister I just hadn't met yet.

She is one of the ones in the ring with me, doing messy, but beautiful work. We are both knee deep in motherhood and for a moment our stories crossed and I am grateful.

To me she was beautiful and valiant, a mother holding everything together by a thread. I don't know how she felt. I don't know if she felt small, or if she felt tired. I don't know if she felt undone or defeated…but I hope she felt supported.

I hope that in that moment she did not feel alone.

I hope she felt like I was WITH her.

No judgement.

Just respect.

We are not the first moms and we will not be the last to have a “moment."

It is messy, it is hard, we will fail often…but we do none of it alone, and we are never, ever the “only one."

#Solidarity

Jessica writes at her blog Wonderoak. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

We all know that being a mother brings many joys, but a phenomenal sex life is not usually one of them. While parenting with a partner can be the most beautiful bonding experience, it can also be a breeding ground for resentment, romantic disconnect and unsatisfying sex.

But all is not lost to a life with little ones. As a mom of two, I attest to the fact that parenthood can actually improve your sex life; and as a relationship coach, I know I'm not alone in that. But here's the thing: you have to give it some attention. Great sex doesn't just happen on its own.

A truly satisfying sex life after kids requires education, communication, commitment and confidence. It asks that you shift your attitude from seeing sex as a chore to something pleasurable that you have the privilege of doing with the partner you love.

And I'm here to show you how.

Here are six elements to have a great sex life after kids.

1. Time

A great sex life requires time. I know what you're thinking: there's already too much on your to-do list. But you're just as important as everything else, and you need to make pleasure a priority. Maybe you put the kids to bed 30 minutes early or swap babysitting nights with your sister-in-law for a pre-planned date night. But you need to find the time to focus on yourself as a woman and as a lover.

2. Sleep

You need sleep to feel like a human, and you need to feel like a human to rekindle your sex life. A 2015 study found that with just one more hour of sleep a night, women were 14% more likely to engage in a sexual activity the next day. So do whatever it takes to get more sleep; take two 20-minute naps or promise yourself one early bedtime a week and see the difference it can make.

3. Ask for help

Between picking up after the kids and laundry and dishes, household responsibilities can put a toll on your relationship. After all, they provide the perfect breeding ground for resentment; and, let's face it, resentment is the opposite of attraction. So ask for help. Yes, from your partner (research shows that sharing household responsibilities increases the frequency of sex a couple has), but also from the reinforcements. Call your mom or your best friend and ask for help, or even splurge on an agency to help you get things back in order.

4. Attitude

When you want a happy and healthy sex life, you need the right attitude—one that doesn't treat sex and intimacy like a chore, but enthusiastically embraces sex positivity. Although it sounds difficult, it's really just four principles.

First, make sex a PRIORITY, which may mean giving up an evening playing Candy Crush to have a romantic night with your man. Then you need to do some PLANNING and put sex on your calendar. Planning intimacy does not have to take the fun out of it, but instead builds the rhythm we need for spontaneous lovemaking to occur.

But you also need FLEXIBILITY to make a great sex life work, especially with parenthood. Is one of the kids sick? Push back your special night until tomorrow. Babysitter cancelled? It's okay to settle for Netflix and a quickie. Go with the flow a little more and you may be surprised what fun you can have. Finally, FOLLOW-THROUGH and commit to these principles. If you throw in the towel after the first roadblock, you're telling yourself and your man that your sex life isn't important enough to fight for, which only leads to more disappointment and resentment.

5. Sex toys

Sex toys aren't only for solo play, they can add fun and excitement when used with your partner. A toy, whether a vibrator or silk blindfold, brings newness to the bedroom, which can turn you on and inspire you to explore. Beyond their aphrodisiac effect, sex toys can give you the extra stimulation you need and ensure that you get your happy ending, too.

6. Sense of humor

Parenting can bring MAJOR frustration to your sex life, and when it goes unaddressed, it drives a wedge in your relationship. Don't let it. Approach parenting's chaos with a sense of humor. Share your oh-my-god experiences together and laugh about them. Embrace the crazy joy parenthood offers and use it as a connection point, something that ties you together, not tears you apart.

Mamas, I know you're exhausted. And I know sex is often the last thing on your mind. But I promise, if you put in a little bit of effort and dedication in your sex life, it pays back tenfold. You get better sex. Your relationship improves. And your partner transforms, once more, into your lover.

The mental load of motherhood is heavy, but it can be difficult to explain what it really feels like to others. It's that never-ending to-do list that has to get done, but only seems to get longer. It's the constant worry of having to get all of those things done, from routine check-ins to managing the emotional balance of the household.

Simply put, it's invisible work that has to be done by someone—and that usually falls on mama.

If you're having trouble explaining that load to others, whether it be friends or your partner, Karen Kleiman, a well-known international maternal mental-health expert, put it into words. And Molly McIntyre, an illustrator and comic artist drew beautiful images.




Illustrated by Molly McIntyre. Molly McIntyre is an illustrator and comic artist with a background in traditional printmaking and book arts techniques. Her illustrations have been featured in Bitch magazine, Everyday Feminism, ScaryMommy, Psychology Today, and more. She is currently working on a collection of comics about new motherhood, called Momzines. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and young son.

Comics from Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts, an accessible collection of comics and resources, releasing March 1st from Familius and available at bookstores everywhere.

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