A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

It started like most projects do – with extravagant ideas and sheer excitement.


The idea to create this masterpiece was hatched one summer night when the sun was scorching hot and the kids needed some shade. My kids had been thumbing through tree house books and watching “Treehouse Masters” with their dad, who shares the same enthusiasm as they do. Since our yard is exposed to the sun until later in the evening, the kids decided that a tree house could be a nice reprieve for their afternoon adventures.

Plans were sketched out, more books looked at, and hours spent talking about the perfect design. My son even started building a makeshift house with bamboo sticks, wood stakes, PVC sprinkler pipe, and plywood. (I’ve often thought they should have just stuck with that!)

FEATURED VIDEO

Our house was a buzz of energy all summer long. At times, it felt like all we talked about was this elaborate plan. Would it have a roof? Could we put windows in it? How about some electricity? My daughter is a concrete-sequential learner, so she would sit out in the area designated for the tree house with her notebook and pencil and sketch it out. My son, who has the energy of a Tasmanian devil, was put in charge of gathering what was needed.

We could all imagine the possibilities of this grandiose tree house. My husband said to me one night, “That’s the thing about this house; it’s going to be built by them. It’s a kid treehouse, not an adult treehouse. When I find them backing away from the project to play in the yard instead, I’m done. I’m not doing it for them.”

Hanging back and allowing children to learn and make mistakes is one of the greatest challenges and gifts of parenting. As parents, we often fail to recognize how capable our children are. We forget that one of the central tasks of growing up is to develop a sense of self.

Everything was going according to plan, until one day when it all stopped. I remember pulling in the driveway after work and watching my husband working on the saw. The kids were nowhere to be found. He stood there shaking his head as I walked towards him.

My husband has a way of teaching lessons in actions rather than words, which is refreshing in a world that is so filled with too much language and not enough follow-through. I overparent with too many words and instructions, reminders, and interruptions.

He cut that final piece of wood and put all the materials away. As soon as the kids came out from wherever they had wandered off to, they were stunned. They could hardly believe that the project was done for the day, and possibly forever.

He had no timeline; he couldn’t care less if it sat unfinished for years, because it is not about him. In those moments when I want him to give the kids a second, or third, or fourth chance to get their act together and help, he sticks to his decision. It will be built when they are ready. Unlike me, he has the ability to stick to natural consequences. He does not take on these projects in furtherance of his own ego.

A growing number of experts agree that by stepping in too often, we can actually set kids back. Many educators and parenting experts say failure – even the opportunity for failure – is a necessary ingredient for raising autonomous, resilient young adults.

Overall, stepping in and doing for children what they can do for themselves is negative. Dr. Madeline Levine, author of Teach Your Children Well, speaks of three ways we might be overparenting and unwittingly causing psychological harm:

  • when we do for our kids what they can already do for themselves
  • when we do for our kids what they can almost do for themselves
  • when our parenting behavior is motivated by our own ego.

Recently, I had the honor of interviewing Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of the New York Times bestseller How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. The overarching theme in this brilliant book can best be understood with one particular passage:

“There’s tremendous psychological harm that comes from overparenting. Most damaging to kids is the implied message that they’re not equipped to handle life’s bumps on their own. When parents jump in, remove obstacles, orchestrate play, and direct the future, they extinguish a child’s ability to think and act for themselves.”

As a school counselor, I often struggle with finding the best resources for parents. If there was one thing I could pick to send home on the first day of school, it would be a copy of Lythcott-Haims’ best seller. She insists that recovery from overparenting is possible and has great advice for many well-intended parents who are looking for ways to parent differently.

In my interview with Lythcott-Haims, I asked her to share some of the main takeaways from her book. She talked about encouraging parents to:

“Parent for the long-term, not for perfection this afternoon. We act as if every playdate, every tryout, and every piece of schoolwork is a make or break moment for their future, so we over-help to ensure all of these things go optimally. It is better that our kids experience the ups and downs that naturally happen in life and learn that through their own effort and perseverance they can succeed.”

Since I am actively participating in the 12-step recovery program for hovering parents, reading her book and interviewing her could not have come at a better time. Even though I have preached this way of parenting for years in my professional life as a school counselor, when it comes time to roll up my sleeves and dig in with my own kids, I often fail – miserably.

So, armed with a better understanding of how I sometimes get in the way of my own children’s autonomy, I wanted to ask Lythcott-Haims what she would suggest to a parent that has already started down the path of overparenting:

“I feel ya. I didn’t realize I was overparenting until my kids were about eight and 10 when I leaned over at dinner one night and began cutting my 10-year-old son’s meat. That was my “aha” moment. (What to do about it was a little less clear to me.) Here’s what I’ve learned: First, if you have a partner, get them on board. Second, look around and identify the ways in which you may be over-parenting.

Use your memory of your childhood as a handy comparison. Are you still dressing your kid at age seven? Are you still bathing them at age eight? Are you cutting their meat at age nine? When they have a playdate, are you telling them what to play with or how to play? Are you acting as their alarm clock in middle school? Are they regularly oversleeping and you’re their go-to solution for getting to school in high school? Are you on top of all their school work, aware of deadlines and assignments and constantly asking them about all of it? Are you doing some of their homework for them?

Step back and look at these behaviors. You’re acting more like a concierge – a person whose job is to ensure stuff gets done smoothly – than a parent. When we overparent, our kids get the implicit message that we don’t think they’re capable of doing things for themselves. They also learn that we’ll always be there to take care of every little thing. But we won’t.”

Lythcott-Haims also shared that, “Sometimes we are overparenting because it makes us feel useful, needed, worthy, and loved. But it’s unhealthy – for us and for our kids – to put that ego need of ours onto them.”

Over the last couple of years, I have realized that one of the best things I’ve done for my family is to make a clear distinction between where I end and my kids begin. Simply put, they are not merely an extension of me. Above all, we must remember that capable kids become independent, happy adults. Often times, the adults in their world take away the ability to dream and make decisions. We fault them for not being able to articulate precisely what they want to do when in reality they do know what they want, we just don’t quiet our own voice long enough to listen to what they have to say.

When they look to you to fix a problem they created, resist the urge to rescue them from the consequences of their mistakes. By offering to rescue them from any discomfort, you are implying that they lack an ability to solve the problem on their own, which ultimately equates to a lack of belief in their ability to do anything.

When I asked Lythcott-Haims what she would tell parents of younger kids, she told me something that I immediately identified with as a parent who’s done things for my children that I know they can do for themselves:

“Believe it or not, our job as parents is to put ourselves out of a job by raising our kids to independent adulthood. This means we ought to be keenly interested not in doing everything for our kids but in teaching our kids to do more and more by and for themselves each year.

What gets in the way of this, of course, is that we can do almost everything faster, more neatly, or more efficiently than they can. Why have your kid set the table when he’s not going to do it as well as you do? Because he’ll never learn to do it at all, let alone well, unless you let him start doing it!

We’ve got to let go of our need for perfection, and instead delight in the fact that our kids are learning, contributing, and becoming more skilled along the way.”

Our need to do things for them is robbing our children of the opportunity to develop self-efficacy; the belief in their abilities to complete a task, reach goals, and manage a situation. They need to believe in their abilities — not in their parents’ abilities to help do those things for them. A child with high self-efficacy works harder, is more optimistic, less anxious, and more often perseveres.

I think so often we are worried about our children’s self-esteem and therefore don’t allow them to develop self-efficacy. Because of this, I can’t help but wonder if we are enabling kids to the extent that they’re almost helpless.

There was one particular section of Lythcott-Haims’ book where I found myself screaming “YES” while reading. She urges her readers to avoid saying “we” when they mean their kid. “We” aren’t on the t-ball team, “we” aren’t doing the late night homework and “we” aren’t going to school every day. Our kid is.

Even after 17 years as a school counselor, I am still stunned when parents say “we” are applying to college or “we” need to fill out scholarship applications. These young adults must develop the skills necessary to advocate for themselves. Is this why we have high school seniors who have to text their parents in the middle of class to ask what topic they should write about in AP English? Does this contribute to the reasons that college students end up back home after one semester? When the going gets tough, they panic and call for us.

Dr. Levine states that: “Parents must acknowledge their own anxiety. Your job is to know your child well enough to make a good call about whether he can manage a particular situation. Will you stay up worrying? Probably, but the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable move toward autonomy.”

Trusting in our kids’ abilities to navigate life requires patience, patience, and more patience. But ultimately, we must continue to remind ourselves that this is their path. If we are working harder than they are at navigating daily tasks, then we are robbing them of the ability to write their own story.

Sometimes we need reminders that the path leading to their life is best travelled by them.

We need to just land the helicopter, put the tiger back in the cage, leave the free range to the chickens and just be a parent – a guide to our children, one that walks alongside them instead of in front or behind.

The question we need to ask is: how do parents create an environment that is encouraging, supportive, and sets the foundation for independence?

While reading Lythcott-Haims’ book, I was reminded of a strategy that educators use in the classroom that mimics much of what she describes in her book. Dr. Madeline Hunter prescribes a four step process for educators to use in the classroom while working with students. It lends itself nicely for parents to also use at home:

1. Watch how I do it (modeling)

2. You help me do it (or we do it together)

3. I’ll watch you do it and give feedback

4. You do it alone.

While creating the tree house opportunity, my husband modeled by looking through plans, measuring, using tools, and beginning the process of assembly. He let them practice the skills he taught them (do it together), while providing feedback along the way (watch). After he was confident that they learned enough, he walked away (you do it alone) leaving them with simple tasks that they could accomplish on their own. They were left to problem solve and rely on each other to get things done. What took place that afternoon is a true definition of self-efficacy.

While the simple act of building a tree house may not seem like a significant life lesson, the very valuable skills of autonomy, problem-solving, and self-efficacy can be seen in every part of that structure. My kids can stand back and say that they truly had a hand in every line sketched, measurement taken, board cut, and nail used (Gasp! Yes, he did let them use a nail gun).

The best reward to come from this project is about so much more than a tree house. It’s the absolute pride and gratification my kids have from the work they did. Visitors can’t even make it up the front steps of our house without my son giving his usual welcome: “Before you go in, you have to check out the tree house my sister and I built. It’s awesome!”

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.

Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 21, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

walmart-best-baby-carseat

When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

SHOP

Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

SHOP

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

SHOP

Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

SHOP

Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

SHOP

Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

SHOP

This article was sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

If I ever want to look alive before dropping my son off to school, there are two things I must put on before leaving the house: eyeliner and mascara. When using eyeliner, I typically use black liner on my top lid, a slightly lighter brown for my bottom lid, and then a nude liner for my water line. It works every time.

My mascara routine is a bit different. Because my natural lashes are thin and not the longest, I always opt for the darkest black I can find, and one that's lengthening and volumizing. For this reason, I was immediately drawn to It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara. The new mascara is developed in partnership with Drybar (the blow dry bar that specializes in just blowouts) and promises to deliver bold and voluminous lashes all day long. I was sold.

Could this really be the blowout my lashes have been waiting for? It turns out, it was much better than most volumizing formulas I've tried.

For starters, the wand is a great size—it's not too big or small, and it's easy to grip—just like my favorite Drybar round brush. As for the formula, it's super light and infused with biotin which helps lashes look stronger and healthier. I also love that it's buildable, and I didn't notice any clumps or flakes between coats.

The real test is that my lashes still looked great at dinnertime. I didn't have smudges or the dreaded raccoon eyes I always get after a long day at work. Surprisingly, the mascara actually stayed in place. To be fair, I haven't compared them with lash-extensions (which are my new go-to since having baby number two), but I'm sure it will hold up nicely.

Overall, I was very impressed with the level of length and fullness this mascara delivered. Indeed, this is the eyelash blowout my lashes have been waiting for. While it won't give you a few extra hours in bed, you'll at least look a little more awake, mama.

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara
SHOP

Here's how I apply IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara:

  1. Starting as close to lash line as possible (and looking down), align the brush against your top lashes. Gradually turn upwards, then wiggle the wand back and forth up and down your eyelashes.
  2. Repeat, if needed. Tip: Be sure to allow the mascara to dry between each coat.
  3. Using the same technique, apply mascara to your bottom lashes, brushing the wand down your eyelashes.
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:

Life

Having children isn't always as easy as it looks on Instagram. There's so much more to motherhood than serene baby snuggles and matching outfits. But there's a reason we've fallen so deeply in love with motherhood: It's the most beautiful, chaotic ride.

Every single day, we sit back and wonder how something so hard can feel so rewarding. And Eva Mendes just managed to nail the reality of that with one quote.

Eva, who is a mama to daughters Esmerelda and Amada with Ryan Gosling, got real about the messy magic of motherhood in a recent interview.

"It's so fun and beautiful and maddening," the actress tells Access Daily. "It's so hard, of course. But it's like that feeling of…you end your day, you put them to bed and Ryan and I kind of look at each other like, 'We did it, we did it. We came out relatively unscathed.'"

FEATURED VIDEO

Eva Mendes Admits Parenting Two Girls With Ryan Gosling Is 'Fun, Beautiful And Maddening' www.youtube.com


And just like that, moms all over the world feel seen. We've all been there: Struggling to get through the day (which, for the record is often every bit as fun as it is challenging), only to put those babies to sleep and collapse on the couch in sheer exhaustion. But, after you've caught your breath, you realize just how strong and capable you really are.

One thing Eva learned the hard way? That sleep regressions are very, very real...and they don't just come to an end after your baby's first few months. "I guess they go through a sleep regression, which nobody told me about until I looked it up," she says "I was like, 'Why isn't my 3-year-old sleeping?'"

But, at the end of the day, Eva loves her life as a mom—and the fact that she took a break from her Hollywood career to devote her days to raising her girls. "I'm so thankful I have the opportunity to be home with them," she says.

Thank you for keeping it real, Eva! Momming isn't easy, but it sure is worth it.

You might also like:

News

My labor and delivery was short and sweet. I started feeling contractions on Monday morning and by Tuesday night at 8:56 pm my handsome baby boy was born. Only 30 minutes of pushing. Afterward, I was still out of it, to be honest. I held him and did some skin to skin and handed him off to my husband, my mother held him next.

When he was in my mother's arms, I knew he was safe. I started to drift off, the epidural had me feeling drowsy and I had used up all my strength to push this 7 lb baby out. My son's eyes were open and then I guess he went to sleep too. My mother swayed him back and forth. The nurses were in and out, cleaning me up and checking in on us.

FEATURED VIDEO

When yet another nurse came in, my mom said to her, "He wasn't latching because he wanted to sleep."

The nurse yelled, "He's not sleeping!"

The next 25 minutes happened in slow motion for me.

After the nurse said these words, she flung my son onto the little baby bed. I looked over and he looked a little blue. Then I heard the loud words of CODE PINK. In matters of seconds about 30 nursing staff descended into my room and crowded around my baby.

I couldn't even see what was happening. I tried to get out the bed but they wouldn't let me and after a couple of failed attempts one of the nurses look at me and said, "He's fine, he's breathing now."

Breathing now? He wasn't breathing before? Again, I tried to push my way to my baby, but once again I was told to not move. They had just performed CPR on my 30-minute old newborn and I couldn't understand what was happening even after a pediatrician tried to explain it to me.

I just started crying. He was fine in my stomach for 39 weeks and 6 days and now I bring him into this world and his heart nearly stops?

I was told he needed to go to the neonatal intensive care unit. I was confused, as I thought the NICU was only for preemies and my son was full term.

After what felt like an eternity we were finally allowed to see our son. My husband wheeled me there and we saw him in the corner alone. I saw the incubator and the wires, he's all bundled up.

The nurse explained all the beeping and showed me the heart rate monitor. He's doing fine. We go over the feeding schedule. I'm exhausted still. I stay with him until about 1 or 2 am. They all suggest I get some sleep. There's no bed in the NICU, so I head back to my room.

The next day was better, he doesn't have to be in the incubator anymore, but the wires remain. By that night or early the next morning, the wires in his nose come out and I try feeding him. I try pumping. It was painful.

He gets his first bath and he loves it. The nurse shampoos his hair (he had a lot!) and he seems so soothed. The nurse explains that because he's full term he doesn't need the same type of support in the NICU. She tells me my baby's strong and he'll be fine.

I look around. I see the other babies, the other moms. They could be there for weeks. And unlike me, the moms have to go home—without their baby.

Friday comes and by now he's done all his tests, blood work came back normal, all tubes have been removed and I get it. I get my going-home package. Finally. I get my instructions on doctor follow-ups and we finally get to go home.

You might also like:

Life

There have been a lot of iconic entertainment magazine covers featuring pregnant women over the years. Who can forget Demi Moore's bare baby bump on Vanity Fair or Britney Spears' similar nude pose on Harper's Bazaar?

Pregnant women on a magazine covers is nothing new, but a visibly pregnant CEO on the cover of a business magazine, that's a first and it happened this week.

Inc. just put The Wing's CEO Audrey Gelman on the cover and this is a historic moment in publishing and business.

As Gelman told Today this week, "You can't be what you can't see, so I think it's so important for women to see that it's possible to run a fast-growing business and also to start a family."

FEATURED VIDEO

👏👏👏

She continued: "It's so important to sort of burst that bubble and to have new images of women who are thriving and working professionally while balancing motherhood … My hope is that women see this and again feel the confidence to take greater professional risks while also not shelving their dreams of becoming a mother and starting a family."

The Wing started in 2016 as a co-working space for women and has grown rapidly. As Inc. reports, The Wing has eight locations in the U.S. with plans for more American and international locations by 2020.

Putting Gelman on the cover was an important move by Inc. and Gelman's honesty about her early pregnancy panic ("I can't be pregnant. I have so much to do." she recalls thinking after her pregnancy test) should be applauded.

Gelman says pregnancy made her slow down physically, and that it was actually good for her company: "I had this realization: The way to make my team and my employees feel proud to work for me and for the company was actually not to pretend to be superhuman or totally unaffected by pregnancy."

We need this. We need CEOs to admit that they are human so that corporate leadership can see employees as humans, too. Humans need things like family leave and flexibility, especially when they start raising little humans.

There are a lot of iconic covers featuring pregnant women, but this one is different. She's wearing clothes and she's changing work culture.

You might also like:

News
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.