cooking strategies from Montessori teachers

If you visit any Montessori classroom for young children, you'll likely see a few children in aprons working to prepare food. Teaching children to cook goes far beyond giving them culinary skills—it gives them a sense of pride and independence. There is something so satisfying for a child, who is usually the one being served, to be able to prepare something on their own and serve it to someone else.

Here are 10 fun and simple ways to introduce cooking to your child:

1. Set them up for success with the right tools

There are a few basic things children need to be successful in the kitchen. First, they need a work station that they can easily reach. This can be a small table by the kitchen or you can use a kitchen helper to allow them to reach the counter.

They will also need a few child-sized tools like a wavy chopper, apron, cutting board, small wooden spoon and whisk. But don't feel like you need to buy everything at once, mama. You can add to their kitchen tool collection over time.

2. Talk about safety… then back away

When you first introduce things like a wavy chopper, talk briefly about safety and any rules you might have like keeping the work in the kitchen and keeping tools out of mouths, etc.

Then make sure not to hover as your child works. You can supervise of course, but they won't be able to focus or do their best work if you're standing over them.

3. Introduce chopping

Isolating skills like chopping makes them easier for children to learn.

Show them how to use their wavy chopper, starting with something easy to chop like a cucumber. For round things like cucumbers, it can be easier for the child if you first cut the vegetable lengthwise so that it has a flat side they can put on their cutting board.

Make sure to give them a little bowl for the pieces they're slicing. Young children do better if it's really organized and they know where to put things.

4. Put them in charge of snacks

Children in Montessori schools almost always have self-serve snacks, where they either make their own snack or select a portion of food from a tray and put it on their own plate. They also generally wash the dishes when they're done.

While you likely won't have a big tray of food from which your child can serve themselves, they can easily choose a pre-set number of crackers from a box, serve themselves a serving of fruit from a bowl in the fridge or chop carrots to eat with hummus.

5. Start a kitchen herb garden

Showing your child the process of cooking from start to finish.If you're not much of a gardener, you can simply choose a couple of herbs and keep them in pots. Invite your child to water the plants and pick the leaves when you need them. Tearing herb leaves is also a great fine motor activity and one that even small toddlers can do!

6. Invite them to help with dinner

Beyond gaining cooking skills, making a meal together really helps small children feel like they're important and a contributing part of the family.

It also goes a long way toward solving the fiasco of trying to cook dinner with a small child who wants your attention. The good news is that almost all meals have some aspect that children can help with, even if it's simply tearing lettuce for a salad or chopping some vegetables.

Bonus: Your child is more likely to eat something if they helped make it!

7. Introduce specialty tools

I'm not always big on one-use kitchen items for myself, but there are a few small and inexpensive kitchen tools that really help make cooking doable (and fun!) for kids. Things like an egg slicer (which is great for strawberries as well), a cherry pitter, and an apple slicer keep things fun and interesting for your child and let them practice with different foods.

8. Let them measure + mix

Measuring and mixing is one of the simplest ways kids can help in the kitchen.

Choose a recipe that isn't super precise, like soup or granola, and show your child how to use measuring spoons and cups to measure the ingredients.

If you're worried they'll dump in way too much, have them dump things into a separate bowl and then add to the main mixture so the whole recipe isn't ruined.

9. Allow them to choose the activity

This may be the hardest part for parents. Do you really want to deal with the mess of letting your child practice their budding culinary skills on their own whenever they wish?

They key is to set your child up for success. If they're only 3 years old, don't provide an array of options that are likely to make a huge mess. Instead, choose one simple activity like carrot slicing or cherry pitting and put everything they need on a low shelf where they can get it themselves.

Make sure to show them the whole process including washing hands before and after and how to clean up. Make sure to specify that they should clean up the whole activity before eating the food they've prepared. This helps ward off the clean-up battle.

Once they've mastered the activity, including clean up, you can add another option. This is a great way to control the mess factor without hovering over your child, which totally ruins the fun!

Here are some potential activities you might put on your child's shelf to do independently, and what you might want to have on the tray:

Clementine peeling

What you'll need: a tray, small bowl for peel, small bowl or plate for clementine slices.

Banana peeling + slicing

What you'll need: a tray, bowl for peel, banana slicer or wavy chopper, cutting board and a small bowl or plate for banana slices.

Carrot cutting

What you'll need: a small basin and scrub brush for scrubbing carrots, small sponge for spills, small carrot peeler and bowl for scraps, wavy chopper, cutting board and a small bowl or plate for carrot slices.

Strawberry slicing

What you'll need: a cutting board, egg slicer or wavy chopper and a small bowl or plate for slices.

Note: It helps a lot if you cut off the green tops ahead of time.

Egg peeling + slicing

What you'll need: a small bowl for peels, cutting board, egg slicer and a small bowl or plate for slices.

Cheese grating

What you'll need: a cutting board, mini grater and a small bowl for cheese.

Peanut butter spreading

What you'll need: a small container with lid containing a teaspoon of peanut butter, spreading knife, cutting board, crackers to spread peanut butter on and a small plate for the crackers.

Cherry pitting

What you'll need: a cutting board, cherry pitter, small bowl for pits and a small bowl for cherries.

Making trail mix

What you'll need: several lidded containers with different nuts, cereals, dried fruit, a scoop or small measuring cup and a bowl for the trail mix.

10. Set up a mud kitchen

Play is such an important part of how children process experiences and new information. If you start cooking with your child and then set up a simple mud kitchen outside, you will see them practicing their new skills and coming up with all sorts of creative dishes on their own.

Remember: This doesn't have to be fancy. It can be as simple as some play pots and pans and old kitchen utensils with some sand or dirt nearby. It's great if you have a water source your child can use, but this can simply be filling up a large basin or water table using the hose.

When it comes to introducing cooking to your child, the important thing is to follow their interests and skills. Introduce one thing at a time, don't freak out about the mess, and let your child lead the way. Bon appétit!

In This Article

    Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn on how they’re ‘sneak teaching’ kids with their new show "Do, Re & Mi"

    The best friends created a musical animated show that's just as educational as it is entertaining

    Amazon Studios

    This episode is sponsored by Tonies. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn have been best friends since they met as young singers and actors more than 15 years ago, and now they're collaborating on a new Amazon Original animated kids series called Do, Re & Mi. The show, which follows best birds Do, Re and Mi as they navigate the world around them while also belting out catchy tunes, is just as educational as it is entertaining.

    On the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, Bell and Tohn talk to Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about how they're "sneak teaching" kids with their new show and why music is such an important focal point.

    "It was basically our mission from the very beginning to 'sneak music education' into kids' lives, hands, brains, all of it," Tohn admits.

    "There's so much science and data to support that [music] helps kids, their brains grow with math, with social skills. It literally can change your neuroplasticity. You can put music of their favorite genre or timeframe on, in an Alzheimer's ward, and they will come back online for a couple minutes. I mean, it's crazy," Bell, who has two daughters of her own, adds. "You know, music can bind a lot of families together. It can bind friendships together. And it's just a show that you can feel really good about. We want to get it in front of as many kids as possible, because I don't like the fact that some kids won't have exposure to music. Their brains deserve to grow just as much as everyone else's."

    The first season of Do, Re & Mi premiered on September 17th and its creators recorded 52 different songs for the show that range from reggae and pop to country, blues and jazz.

    "That's what's so exciting about this show," Tohn gushes. "Not only are the lessons we're teaching for everyone, but every episode has a musical genre, a musical lesson and an emotional lesson. And so there really is so much to learn."

    Elsewhere in the episode, Bell tells Tenety about how she made literal toolboxes that carry different regulation tools to help her kids calm down (one is "find a song you love and sing out loud") and why having a village is crucial to surviving motherhood, especially in a pandemic, while Tohn details her special friendship not only with Bell, but with her daughters, too.

    To hear more about the show, Bell's experiences in motherhood, and her enduring friendship with Tohn, listen to The Motherly Podcast for the full interview.

    Entertainment

    12 baby registry essentials for family adventures

    Eager to get out and go? Start here

    Ashley Robertson / @ashleyrobertson

    Parenthood: It's the greatest adventure of all. From those first few outings around the block to family trips at international destinations, there are new experiences to discover around every corner. As you begin the journey, an adventurous spirit can take you far—and the best baby travel gear can help you go even farther.

    With car seats, strollers and travel systems designed to help you confidently get out and go on family adventures, Maxi-Cosi gives you the support you need to make the memories you want.

    As a mom of two, Ashley Robertson says she appreciates how Maxi-Cosi products can grow with her growing family. "For baby gear, safety and ease are always at the top of our list, but I also love how aesthetically pleasing the Maxi Cosi products are," she says. "The Pria Car Seat was our first purchase and it's been so nice to have a car seat that 'grows' with your child. It's also easy to clean—major bonus!"

    If you have big dreams for family adventures, start by exploring these 12 baby registry essentials.

    Tayla™️ XP Travel System

    Flexibility is key for successful family adventures. This reversible, adjustable, all-terrain travel system delivers great versatility. With the included Coral XP Infant Car Seat that fits securely in the nesting system, you can use this stroller from birth.


    Add to Babylist

    $849.99

    Iora Bedside Bassinet

    Great for use at home or for adventures that involve a night away, the collapsible Iora Bedside Bassinet gives your baby a comfortable, safe place to snooze. With five different height positions and three slide positions, this bassinet can fit right by your bedside. The travel bag also makes it easy to take on the go.


    Add to Babylist

    $249.99

    Kori 2-in-1 Rocker

    Made with high-quality, soft materials, the foldable Kori Rocker offers 2-in-1 action by being a rocker or stationary seat. It's easy to move around the home, so you can keep your baby comfortable wherever you go. With a slim folded profile, it's also easy to take along on adventures so your baby always has a seat of their own.


    Add to Babylist

    $119.99

    Minla 6-in-1 High Chair

    A high chair may not come to mind when you're planning ahead for family adventures. But, as the safest spot for your growing baby to eat meals, it's worth bringing along for the ride. With compact folding ability and multiple modes of use that will grow with your little one, it makes for easy cargo.


    Add to Babylist

    $219.99

    Coral XP Infant Car Seat

    With the inner carrier weighing in at just 5 lbs., this incredibly lightweight infant car seat means every outing isn't also an arm workout for you. Another feature you won't find with other infant car seats? In addition to the standard carry bar, the Coral XP can be carried with a flexible handle or cross-body strap.


    Add to Babylist

    $399.99

    Pria™️ All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

    From birth through 10 years, this is the one and only car seat you need. It works in rear-facing, forward-facing and, finally, booster mode. Comfortable and secure for every mile of the journey ahead, you can feel good about hitting the road for family fun.


    Add to Babylist

    $289.99

    Pria™️ Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

    Want to skip the wrestling match with car seat buckles? The brilliant Out-of-the-Way harness system and magnetic chest clip make getting your child in and out of their buckles as cinch. This fully convertible car seat is suitable for babies from 4 lbs. through big kids up to 100 lbs. With washer-and-dryer safe cushions and dishwasher safe cup holders, you don't need to stress the mess either.


    Add to Babylist

    $329.99

    Tayla Modular Lightweight Stroller

    With four reclining positions, your little ones can stay content—whether they want to lay back for a little shut-eye or sit up and take in the view. Also reversible, the seat can be turned outward or inward if you want to keep an eye on your adventure buddy. Need to pop it in the trunk or take it on the plane? The stroller easily and compactly folds shut.


    Add to Babylist
    $499.99

    Tayla Travel System

    This car seat and stroller combo is the baby travel system that will help make your travel dreams possible from Day 1. The Mico XP infant seat is quick and easy to install into the stroller or car. Skipping the car seat? The reversible stroller seat is a comfortable way to take in the scenery.


    Add to Babylist
    $699.99

    Modern Diaper Bag

    When you need to change a diaper during an outing, the last thing you'll want to do is scramble to find one. The Modern Diaper Bag will help you stay organized for brief outings or week-long family vacations. In addition to the pockets and easy-carry strap, we love the wipeable diaper changing pad, insulated diaper bag and hanging toiletry bag.


    Add to Babylist

    $129.99

    Mico XP Max Infant Car Seat

    Designed for maximum safety and comfort from the very first day, this infant car seat securely locks into the car seat base or compatible strollers. With a comfy infant pillow and luxe materials, it also feels as good for your baby as it looks to you. Not to mention the cushions are all machine washable and dryable, which is a major win for you.


    Add to Babylist
    $299.99

    Adorra™️ 5-in-1 Modular Travel System

    From carriage mode for newborn through world-view seated mode for bigger kids, this 5-in-1 children's travel system truly will help make travel possible. We appreciate the adjustable handlebar, extended canopy with UV protection and locking abilities when it's folded. Your child will appreciate the plush cushions, reclining seat and smooth ride.


    Add to Babylist
    $599.99

    Ready for some family adventures? Start by exploring Maxi-Cosi.

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


    Boost 1

    This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

    One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

    I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


    Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

    The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

    Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

    Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

    Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

    My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

    Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

    Woodland Snug comforter

    Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

    The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

    $249

    Braided Pom Pom Throw

    Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

    $145

    Lumbar pillow

    sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

    What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

    $65

    Crystal infused sleep mask

    sunday citizen sleep mask

    Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

    $40

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Shop

    10 Montessori phrases for kids who are struggling with back to school

    The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here's how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.

    No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don't want to go to school. Whether they're saying "I don't like school" when you're home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.

    More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It's important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.

    Here are some phrases that will encourage your child to go to school.


    1. "You're safe here."

    If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they'll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you're clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.

    2. "I love you and I know you can do this."

    It's best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.

    If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, "It's just school, you'll be fine" belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you're confident they're up to the task. This validates the anxiety they're feeling while ending on a positive note.

    After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.

    3. "First you'll have circle time, then work time, and then you'll play on the playground."

    Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.

    It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.

    4. "I'll pick you up after playground time."

    Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.

    If your child can tell time, you can tell them you'll see them at 3:30pm. If they're younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you'll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it's after math class.

    Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they'll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.

    5. "What book do you think your teacher will read when you get to school this morning?"

    Find out what happens first in your child's school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.

    If they're in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.

    Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.

    6. "Do you think Johnny will be there today?"

    Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.

    If you're not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.

    If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.

    7. "That's a hard feeling. Tell me about it."

    While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.

    Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they're really feeling.

    They may reveal that they just miss you while they're gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.

    Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.

    8. "What can we do to help you feel better?"

    Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.

    Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.

    If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they're too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?

    Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you're rescuing them, to build their confidence.

    9. "What was the best part of your school day?"

    Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.

    It's easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don't always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.

    10. "I can't wait to go to the park together when we get home."

    If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.

    Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it's coming.

    It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don't want to go to school. If you're concerned, talk to your child's teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they're in the classroom.

    To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.

    Back to School

    Yes, a shower can be self-care—here's how to level it up

    Some seasons of life can make you feel like you have no time for self-care, so here's how you can make an everyday activity a luxury.

    Getty

    Over the course of the last several years, "self-care" has become not only a buzzword, but also a daily requirement for personal fulfillment. And while self-care is important, it loses its appeal when it feels like a chore, or yet another item on a never-ending To Do list. I have a one-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. I work full-time, and I do not have full-time childcare. As a result, like many parents, free time is the stuff of fairy tales.

    Instead of beating myself up over my inability to get to the nail salon or to schedule a monthly massage, I decided to redefine self-care—to be grateful for the little moments, to elevate them. In the seasons of life where you can't figure out how to fit "self-care" in—or when trying to fit it in causes more stress—choose to relish the small escapes. After all, the intent of self-care is to feel better, to improve your overall health, to fill your cup so you can help to fill others. When the act of scheduling self-care puts more weight on your shoulders, it defeats the purpose.

    I can't tell you how many articles I've read that say a shower—basic hygiene—shouldn't qualify as self-care, and I do understand that sentiment.

    However, on the days, weeks, or even months where you can't find hour-long blocks of scheduled "me time," why not embrace your shower as an act of self-care?



    In all honesty, my nightly shower after my kids go to sleep is beyond. I look forward to it. I set the mood and bask in 10-15 minutes of silence and pampering. Here are some of my tried-and-true tips to boost your shower:


    • Light a candle: What is it about the simple act of lighting a candle that sets the mood? I recently received a South Candle from my MIL, and the dreamy summer scent has me reaching for it again and again.
    • Use a dry brush: I jumped on the dry brushing trend a few years ago and never looked back. Right before I shower, I use a dry brush on my body to exfoliate and improve lymphatic drainage.
    • Hang eucalyptus: Visit your local florist, and buy a bundle of fresh eucalyptus. In addition to its spa-esque scent, eucalyptus boasts multiple healing effects, like promoting stress-relief and improving mental health.
    • Cleanse: Indie Lee's Brightening Cleanser smells delicious and is a great addition to anyone's summer skincare routine. This vegan and plant-based formula leaves my skin looking bright and firm.
    • Splurge: It's not cheap, but Tata Harper's smoothing body scrub buffs and polishes your skin, leaving it smooth, glowing, and in my case — ready to hit the sheets!
    • Moisturize: Post-shower, use your favorite moisturizer. I love Alba Botanica's very emollient unscented original body lotion — it's super hydrating and gentle on sensitive skin without an overwhelming fragrance.
    • Enhance your skin while you catch some z's: Glow Recipe's Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask completes my nightly skincare routine. It smells like candy, and I wake up with soft, dewy skin.

    Moral of the story? For busy parents, your nightly shower is a special occasion, so don't save the good products for another day—use them now!

    Elevating the little moments and being creative carries over to all other areas of your life as well. Can't make it to a barre class? Slide into bridge pose while on the floor with the kiddos and do some hip raises. Turn a dance party into a quick HIIT workout with some squat jumps. Take the kiddos for a walk and pop in your airpods. Fresh air, movement, and a podcast fuels my soul. Having trouble finding a sitter for date night? Enhance your "Netflix and chill" with restaurant-quality cocktails, fancy popcorn, and a bougie dessert.

    In certain seasons of life, recognize self-care in the little moments. It's not worth stressing about your inability to practice an idealistic—and unrealistic—self-care routine. Instead, find the moment, elevate it, and enjoy it.

    Beauty Style

    9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home

    There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

    We brought our baby home in a confused, crazy haze of new-parent life. We didn't know a lot. Actually, scratch that. We didn't even really know a little. There's so much I wish I could have told you—to give you, this patient and amazing man, a heads up. But I couldn't. I didn't know, either.

    There's so much to navigate in new parenthood. Proud new papas of the world, this one's for you.

    Here are 9 things I wish my husband had known before we brought baby home...

    1. We are both clueless.

    I know you've never done this before. But guess what? Neither have I. Just because I'm a woman or I used to babysit in college doesn't mean I know more about what we're doing. This isn't a competition of who knows more or less about babies. The playing field is level. We are both clueless. If you ask me why she's crying again, and I give you a master-level death stare—just understand it's because I. Don't. Know.

    2. So help me.

    Don't wait for me to ask. Please. Just do something. Change the next diaper, get me a snack, fill my water bottle while I'm nursing, cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry. Remind me to take Motrin. Literally anything will be helpful. And it is such a nice feeling when I don't have to ask you to do something. Like, a major turn-on. (And I'll remember that in six to eight weeks.)

    3. Happily take over when I need a break.

    When you're getting the feeling that I may need a break, or a shower, or to just sit in silence by myself for a minute—take over. With a smile. Bond with your baby. Talk to the baby. Sing to the baby. Do awesome father stuff. I'll get my very necessary break, and I'll be listening in the other room. #Swoon. ?

    4. I'm going to cry a lot.

    Over all sorts of things. I got poop on my hands. Tears. I am tired. Tears. My nipples hurt. Tears. I don't understand what I'm doing. Tears. Someone just stopped by unannounced. Tears. My belly is jiggly. Tears. I feel sad. Tears. I have never been happier in my life. Tears. This cookie is sooo good. Tears. ? ?

    The new norm? Crying. Get used to it for now. I don't really realize I'm crying over ridiculous things, I'm just in this brand-new world with lots of crying (from me and the baby), a nursing appetite that dwarfs my pregnancy appetite and a baby bump without a baby in there. Let me cry without judgment.

    For the most part, there will be zero rationale behind these tears (well, except #hormones... and dang, that cookie was really good). But also, do me a favor and pay attention to signs of postpartum depression. Because I may not be able to.

    5. I've never felt so self-conscious.

    My baby bump is gone, but I am still carrying extra pounds. Some people think I still look pregnant. I haven't showered yet today. My hair is greasy. My legs are so hairy they're confused as to whether they're wearing pants or have a thick fur blanket wrapped around them. The circles under my eyes are deepening by the second. My wardrobe consists of sizes I'd never thought I'd see, and my maternity clothes don't look like they're going anywhere fast.

    Lift my spirits, please. I don't quite feel like myself. Be gentle with me. We can't have sex—and I definitely don'' want to!—but we can cuddle before bed, you can hold my hand and tell me what an amazing job I'm doing, and you can remind me that I'm a badass, beautiful mama.

    6. I'm going to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.

    You may wonder what exactly I'm doing in there. I may be trying to escape you people for a little while. But I also may just be using the bathroom, which now means also using my new BFF spray bottle, very slowly sitting down on the toilet, very slowly picking myself up off the toilet, putting a new pad on, and hoisting my pants up. It's not the quickest process right this second.

    Oh, and when I get a chance to shower... no, I did not get sucked down the drain. I am simply enjoying the peace and quiet while the hot water runs down my back. ? I'm giving myself some time alone to reflect on the fact that yes, this is all happening.

    7. I don't want visitors.

    Sure, the close family members we agreed on are fine. I know they want to check in on us and want to meet the baby. But please don't invite other people over right now. This is a lot to take in and figure out. My boobs are out 24/7, I'm wearing your sweatshirt and maternity sweatpants and—makeup? What does this word mean?

    If you could, just give me a little time and space in our bubble. I'll be ready for visitors soon. Tell people no from us so I don't have to feel bad about it. When the VIPs are visiting, be the overstaying police—if they've been over for too long, make something up so they get the hint to leave. The baby needs to rest, I need to rest, I need to feed the baby, aliens are coming and we need to go into our underground bunker—whatever you need to do. Check in with me privately if you're not sure what constitutes "too long." ⏱

    8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

    And not just with the baby. ?

    With you, too. I need you with me, near me, supporting me and letting me support you. We're in this together, and I desperately need to feel like a team. Let's try to be patient with each other.

    But also, if we do have people visiting and I give you the "I-need-my-baby-back" stare—HAND ME THE BABY. Politely ask whoever is holding her if you could borrow her and like I said—HAND ME THE BABY. PLEASE. I LOVE YOU.

    8. I'm going to go into protective mama bear mode.

    We are awesome together. Our baby makes us even more awesome together. This is new to us. Let's try to enjoy this time in our lives. Let's laugh over that poop on my hands (after I cry... and remember—let me cry), let's stay in our bubble as long as we can and let's rocking being clueless parents together. Because let's face it—no matter how much we think we know, we'll never know it all.


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