A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

If You Should Do It For Your Kid, You Should Do It For Yourself

I recently dealt with an extremely difficult phase of separation anxiety with my three and a half-year-old. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without her running behind me and pounding her fists against the door, while in tears.


There were a lot of changes in our home all at once, so some type of reaction was to be expected. But, this was far beyond anything I had ever imagined. I had no idea what to do and felt incredibly overwhelmed from the moment I woke up each day to the moment I retired my exhausted mind and body back to bed.

I tried being more present by spending additional quality time with her while our new nanny watched my infant. I thought that perhaps the strain was coming from the presence of her new sibling, and the time that the baby was taking away from my interactions with her. That didn’t help… One day I foolishly listened to the advice of a friend who allows her child to scream through every situation, and swiftly exited her camp room after drop off. That definitely didn’t help.

The teachers called me back within 15 minutes and suggested I sit down on the floor with the rest of the class until she calmed down. (Side note here: If you don’t agree with the way someone else parents their children, don’t take their advice. Every child is different and only YOU know what is best for your child.)

Then I tried working from home while the nanny was there, but all my daughter did was cry and tell me over and over again that she wanted ‘Her’ to ‘go home now.’ It was a complete disaster.

I eventually found the right balance and saw my daughter turning a corner. She was playing with our new nanny, she was looking forward to seeing her friends at camp, and she was letting me use the toilet without screaming on the other side of the door or bracing my leg while I tried to have a bowel movement. Things were looking brighter, and I could tell that we were getting over a huge hump. But, were WE really getting over it?

Why was I still feeling tightness in my chest in spite of her achievements?

This is what I was working towards for weeks! Why was I still feeling sad and heavy now that I was finally able to take a step back from constantly having to work through every step of the day with her?

Well, one morning while rushing through another mediocre shower it hit me. It was because I had forgotten about doing things for myself.

I am not just talking about forgetting things like showers, getting dressed properly or throwing some makeup on. I am talking about forgetting to nurture myself on a much greater and deeper level. The way I had been nurturing my daughters. I didn’t need a new pair or jeans or a piece of jewelry. I didn’t need a manicure that would chip within two days or an expensive pair of shoes. I needed some reassurance and love.

Don’t get my wrong, I never underestimate the power of a nice manicure or massage, but we parents need to realize that true self-nurturing doesn’t come in the form of material things. It comes from giving ourselves the same type of love and reassurance that we give to our children each day.

So, one morning I stopped and looked at myself in the mirror. I leaned in with my hands on the counter and gazed into my own, tired eyes. I saw a ‘girl’ who had been neglected. I saw a lonely, and sad girl who was giving all of herself to everyone around her just to make others happy. The same girl I see in my daughter’s eyes when she has done every dance possible to get my attention, and sings every song she can think of when the baby’s demands are taking me away from her. I almost cried.

If I wouldn’t allow my daughter to suffer this way, then why was I allowing it to happen to myself?

Of course, I needed to be their caretaker. But, It was without question that I was fulfilling that role. I was also being the best wife possible with whatever energy I had left at the end of each day. But, there was another lonely person in the house, one who needed love and attention, or just needed to hear that she was important and that person was me.

In that moment I made the decision to find a way to nurture my own soul and give myself some needed and deserved attention. I praised myself. I acknowledged all of my strengths. I allowed myself to feel proud and take the credit I deserved for taking such good care of my family.

I also unapologetically allowed myself to feel great about the way my body had recovered after having two children. I told myself that I deserved complete showers and the time to shave my legs, even if that meant leaving my daughter with the television for an extra 15 minutes (they were always safe). I scheduled some plans with friends who I enjoyed being around, instead of just making obligated play dates with other parents I hardly knew.

Most importantly, I embraced that moment of praising myself and I didn’t feel guilty for any of it.

I made a pact with myself to give my own spirit the TLC it deserved, and realized that if I found these things to be essential for my daughters each day, then I should value them the same for myself. I would take the time to ‘check in.’ I would tell myself that I was doing a great job, and that it was completely normal to feel overwhelmed.

I would recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect parent, but that I was doing a fantastic job as a mother of two young children. I would take showers and brush my teeth without feeling guilty for it, and I would love my body. The same body that now has some stretch marks and cellulite. The very same body that carried my two beautiful children inside of it for 40 weeks each and then brought them into this world, and the same body that finds the daily strength, in spite of aches and pains, to nurse, carry, cuddle, hug and hold my children when they need it. I worship that body.

To all of the parents out there and, mainly to all of the moms: If you feel you should do it for your children, you should do it for yourself. You deserve to feel good each day. You deserve some praise for the things you do, even if they seem small in comparison to other things. We praise our kids for taking poops, don’t we? You owe it to yourself to love yourself, and you should never feel guilty for this. Especially if you are doing the best you can for your children.

Happiness won’t come in the form of a new purse or a fancy manicure, just like it doesn’t truly come in the form of a new toy. Those things will make anyone feel good in the moment, but at the end of the day, when the bag or the ‘Barbie’ is away in the closet, you will still be with yourself and the emptiness, afraid of the dark…. You must go deep.

You must nurture your soul.

Go for walks, exercise or stretch, take a shower, love your body, love yourself, and don’t feel guilty for saving a little bit of time and energy each day to do so. Just like children need to get out and go to the park with friends, adults need to escape from home and burn off steam too.

I know that free time comes few and far between when you are a parent, so I do not suggest that you will have hours at a time to do these things right away, but start with a minute here and there just to check in with yourself and say ‘Hey beautiful, I am proud of you. You are doing a really great job.’

The same way you always manage to find the time to say something like that to your kids.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

If there's anything better than dressing your kids up in adorable holiday outfits, it's gotta be matching them.

We rounded up seven of our favorite looks for this season. 🎁

1. Classic Christmas for kids

Go crisp, clean, classic and Christmassy with a Short Sleeve Smocked Holiday Dress from Feltman Brothers.

Short Sleeve Smocked Holiday Dress, Feltman Brothers, $67.95

BUY

Classic Christmas made modern for mama

Match your cotton cutie in a crisp and modern shirtdress that can last you far beyond Christmas.

Kowtow Monologue Shirt Dress, Garmentory, $93.00

BUY

2. Nordic-themed sweater set

Get cozy + complimentary with black and red family sweaters that you can wear all winter long.

Oh Sno Happy Christmas Collection, Hanna Andersson, $68 - $92

BUY

3. Matchy matchy mommy

A super-affordable option for the matchy matchy mama.

Emmababy Mommy and Me Matching Plaid Long Sleeve Shirt Dress + Princess Tulle Tutu Dress, $14.99

BUY

4. Mommy + me tutus

Tutus make everything, including the holidays, a bit more magical. Grab a matching set to enjoy a twirl with your girl.

Mommy and Me Tulle Tutus, Etsy, $110.00

BUY

5. The perfect plaid dress

Quick! This one is perfect, grab it fast.

Ruffle Trim Babydoll Dress for Toddler Girls, Old Navy, $20.00

BUY

Mama's plaid

Mama deserves ruffles and plaid, too.

Relaxed Plaid Twill Classic Shirt, $24.00, Old Navy

BUY

6. Best sweater set yet

Moms and sons can play match-up, too. Grab a sweater set you can return to the entire season.

Festivewear Sweater Sets, Boden, $55.00-$130.00

BUY

7. Big blue

Light up the night with Santa's sleigh and a sleek little number for mama.

Festive Big Applique Dress, Boden, $48.00

BUY

Blue for you, too

The perfect LBD (little blue dress).

Flippy Pencil Dress, Boden, $170.00

BUY

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.

You might also like:

Ask a group of 10 mamas to define or describe mom guilt and you will likely get 10 different responses. We all associate feelings of guilt with different parenting situations that are as unique as we are. It ranges from feeling guilty about snapping at your children when you're run down, feeding them sugary snacks or leaving for an overnight work trip.

We feel guilt for big and small things, for things we did and didn't do and everything in between.

As a coach helping new moms adjust to motherhood, it's a big topic and one that repeatedly comes up. While it's not always labeled as mom guilt, those feelings of overwhelm, balancing what we're focusing our time on, or feeling bad that we haven't had a date night or a girls' night out in months, it usually circles back to guilt.

Guilt, when not addressed, can be quite a consuming feeling. It can become a bad habit, one that grows over time until soon you second-guess everything that you do for fear of feeling guilty afterward.

While I could certainly share my own experiences with guilt, I know they may not encompass the wide spectrum of mom guilt. So I asked some of my friends, colleagues and fellow moms to help me share stories of mom guilt, and I was surprised at some of the answers.

Here's what they had to say:

When do you experience mom guilt?

1. When I'm trying to blend work and life

"I have a job that has a lot of flexibility so I am around a lot more than other full-time jobs but a lot of the time I never feel like I am fully present. I am always taking phone calls and worrying about clients. It's hard to push that out of mind and focus fully on the kids."

2. When I lose my temper

"I lose my temper with my daughter all the time, and it's usually because I'm tired. When I don't parent with grace and instead react out of anger or frustration, I feel terrible, especially because it probably could have been prevented if I had gone to bed earlier the night before."

3. When I have to travel for work

"Two weeks ago I was out of town for a work conference and found out our 1-year-old had fallen down the stairs the night before and was taken to the hospital via ambulance. He was completely fine (just had an ear infection), but I felt guilty that I wasn't there.

"I kept thinking if I had been there I would have been an extra pair of hands and my husband wouldn't have been so stressed trying to get everyone ready for bed. I felt guilty that my husband had to go through that terrifying experience alone. I felt guilty that I couldn't be there for several more days to hold my baby and have physical proof he was okay."

4. When I had a hard time with breastfeeding

"I was unable to exclusively breastfeed my babies past four months. My milk supply couldn't keep up, and truthfully, I wasn't willing to be attached to my pump and eat all kinds of supplements to try to increase my milk. So we just started using formula. With my first born, I cried over this many times. I was disappointed and felt guilty that I wasn't giving her breast milk. But eventually I came to appreciate the conveniences of formula, and my guilt subsided.

"I was surprised when my son was born and we made the switch to formula again that [the guilt] crept back up. I remember bottle-feeding my newborn and feeling like I had to tell everyone in the room that the bottle was breast milk. Why is that?! Why do we need to slip it into the conversation that we're giving our kid breast milk or justify why we're not? When I stopped producing enough, that was disappointing but to be honest, I didn't love breastfeeding and felt a little relieved that it was over, and that made me feel guilty too. Why didn't I love something I was literally designed to do? Did I give up too easily? And would I have loved it if I had had a normal supply? I wrestled with these questions a lot."

5. When I feel like I'm working too much

"Luckily, I do not have to do morning drop off (that's my husband's realm). Avoiding the daycare drop off has been huge in terms of avoiding mom guilt on a regular basis. I typically do not feel guilty while I'm at work because I get a fair amount of fulfillment from my work, which I think makes me a better mom at the end of the day.

"However, I feel very guilty when my work bleeds into what should be time with my family (evenings and weekends). This happened a lot last school year (new school districts and new preps = 55-60 hour work weeks). I felt very guilty having to tell my son I couldn't play or couldn't go to the zoo with him and his dad on a Sunday because I had to work."

How do you move past the guilt?

It happens to the best of us, and it happens pretty frequently. Feeling guilty over certain circumstances, behavior and decisions is a part of parenting. So how do you move past those feelings of mom guilt? What can you think or do instead?

These were some of my favorite tips:

1. Be grateful

"Instead of feeling bad about yourself for something you can't control, try to be grateful. For example, write out gratitude l that you can afford formula and that formula even exists."

2. Talk about it, normalize it

"Talk about your experience when it comes up in conversation to normalize it—for yourself and for any other moms who might be listening. If someone says something offensive or insensitive, give them the benefit of the doubt."

3. Keep busy

"Keeping busy at work or during work travel is the best way to distract yourself and keep your mind off of feeling guilty."

4. Forgive yourself

"Accidents will happen whether you are there all the time or not, no matter how careful you are. The same thing could have happened even if you hadn't been away and both parents had been looking out for the kids' safety. It's okay to let yourself off the hook.

"If you lose your patience with your little one and resort to harsh words or actions, make a point to apologize and ask for forgiveness as soon as possible. Talk about why you both got upset, and after you hug it out, your guilt will probably have melted away."

5. Set boundaries

"Try setting stronger work boundaries so you can be more present at home. Especially if you don't work a traditional 9-5 job, that flexibility can lead to never being fully present. Find the boundaries that work for you so you can focus on family or work and not both all of the time."

6. Ask yourself some questions

If you feel overcome with mom guilt, try asking yourself:

  • Is your child thriving and happy? (yes)
  • Do theyknow they have a mom who loves them? (yes)
  • Are they learning new lessons/skills at daycare that you maybe wouldn't have even thought to teach them? (yes)

Then, what a lucky kid!

Remember you are not alone

If I can teach you one thing about guilt, it's that whether you feel guilty or not, is completely up to you. You may say, "she made me feel so guilty when she said…" or "hearing her talk about the privilege she has in staying home with her kids made me feel so guilty."

But it's not true. She didn't make you feel guilty. You thought that what she does or how she mothers was better, and that thought created the guilty feeling. Or you felt like you are doing a disservice to your family.

Knowing that, being aware of that, is so powerful.

I hope that by reading these honest stories from other moms who are doing the best that they can, you realize that we all feel it. We all experience mom guilt.

Share your stories, talk about it, normalize it, or challenge yourself with some of those amazing questions about whether your kid is happy, healthy and knows he is loved.

I bet you can talk yourself down off that ledge or pick yourself up out of those feelings of guilt. We all get through them and we get better and stronger every time that we do. Don't avoid the situations that "make you feel guilty". Walk head-on into them knowing you're not alone and knowing you have the tools to get past it.

Many thanks to these amazing women who were willing to share their stories:

  • Brooke Lehenbauer - Stay-at-home mom & part-time family photographer, Mom to a girl and a boy (3 yo and 7 months)
  • Jackie - Sales/Account Management, Mom to 3 kiddos (5, 3 and 1)
  • Lauren Karas - High school teacher, Mom to 3 yo boy and one on the way!
  • MC - Realtor, Mom to 2 boys (4 1/2 and 2 yo)

Originally posted on The Mother Nurture.

You might also like:

As parents we do the best we can to keep our kids safe while also letting them experience the world, and sometimes this involves assessing risks and deciding what is appropriate for our individual families.

Every parent makes different choices based on their family's values and needs, and there's no reason for mom shaming—or in this case dad shaming—as Pink recently reminded the world via Instagram.

Pink's defense began when her husband, motocross pro Carey Hart, posted a pic of himself on a motorbike with son Jameson, who is nearly two. Internet commenters criticized Hart's decision and his parenting, suggesting that he was putting Jameson in danger by having him on the bike.

In the photo, Hart and Jameson are sitting on the bike while it is still, but some Instagram users were still very critical of Hart's decision to have Jameson up on the bike with him. Some suggested he was endangering his son, and others stated he was wearing the wrong kind of helmet.

After the controversy, Pink posted a photo of Jameson eating chocolate on her own Instagram, joking, "Chocolate is good for babies, right? Help me Instagram, we can't possibly parent without you."

The joke set some commenters off, reigniting the online debate about Hart's parenting skills. "With your husband being in the spotlight so often with his complete lack of regard for proper care or concern at times with your kids, this comment isn't funny, albeit Jameson is adorable, one Instagram user wrote. "Your husband, I'm sorry, lacks the responsibility your kids need in his care."

Pink replied to the commenter, asking (fairly) how this person could feel like they could judge Hart as a father when they'd only seen him parenting through social media posts. "How often have you spent time with my husband?" Pink asked the commenter. "How often have you watched him parent?"

Through that comment, Pink reminded the world that what we see on social media is just one slice of our very complex and busy lives. It's impossible to really know the thought and care each individual puts into the choices they make for their children.

We make choices for our kids every day and they're going to be different from the choices of the parent next door or the next person in our Instagram feed. Our parenting choices are informed by our individual experiences, our beliefs, and everything else that makes us ourselves, everything that makes us unique.

No parent is perfect, but as parents we are perfectly positioned to choose what is appropriate for our individual children.

And we can also make the choice to respect those who parent differently than we do. No shaming necessary.

You might also like:

The color experts at Pantone recently named the pinky-orange hue Living Coral as the color of the year for 2019, but the Editors of Nameberry have some other shades in mind for 2019. Like Pantone, though, they're predicting nature-inspired colors won't just be big at the paint store, but at the playground as well.

Yes, natural colors and jewels-inspired hues (along with animal names) are predicted to be big trends for baby names in the coming year.

Nameberry's editors have been tracking the 2018 trends to predict which names parents will be picking in 2019, and the palette is more muted than Pantone's for sure. According to Nameberry's editors, parents are shifting away from the intense hues (like Scarlett, Ruby and Poppy) toward more chill tones.

These are Nameberry's picks for color-inspired names for 2019:

  1. Ash
  2. Fawn
  3. Grey/Gray
  4. Ivory
  5. Lavender
  6. Lilac
  7. Mauve
  8. Moss
  9. Olive
  10. Sage

You don't have to look to the crayon box for baby name inspo to be on trend for next year—you could also look in your jewelry box. According to Nameberry, jewel and gem-inspired names are surging for both boys and girls and some can even be gender neutral.

Namberry is betting some precious babies will be getting these precious names next year:

  1. Amethyst
  2. Emerald
  3. Garnet
  4. Jasper
  5. Jet
  6. Onyx
  7. Opal
  8. Peridot
  9. Sapphire
  10. Topaz

It's not just colors and gems from nature that are trending, but animal-inspired names, too. On-trend parents might look to the forest for more name inspiration in 2019.

According to Nameberry, these animal-based names are set to trend in 2019:

  1. Bear
  2. Falcon
  3. Fox
  4. Hawk
  5. Koala
  6. Lion
  7. Lynx
  8. Otter
  9. Tiger
  10. Wolf

Some of the names Nameberry has predicted here (like Jasper, which was within the official top 200 baby names of 2017, according to the Social Security Administration,) are already fairly popular, while others (like Koala and Bear) are so statistically unpopular right now they aren't even charting on the SSA's baby name list.

Time will tell which of these nature-inspired names can take on Liam and Emma in the near future and whether Coral can go from being Pantone's 2019 pick to parents' pick in 2020.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.