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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.

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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 the 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, it's 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. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all 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?

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 that 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

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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