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“Good morning, Mama,” my three-year-old says as he climbs up next to me on the couch. I woke up early to write, but he has other plans. “The end!” he cheers, closing my laptop. “Let’s make banana muffins!”

This will be the first of many interruptions today.

For many parents, a work-from-home job seems ideal. No commute. No dress code. Low-to-no childcare costs, at least for part-timers with flexible schedules. But here at the start of summer vacation, work-at-home parents are facing down three months of interruptions.

Fortunately, productivity experts have been working on this problem for decades. Their strategies, built for the workplace, can also help parents make space for work at home.




More work hours, less productivity

Leslie Perlow, professor at Harvard Business School, has been studying how technology, especially the 24-hour availability it has created, has made workplaces less efficient. Her 2012 book “Sleeping With Your Smartphone” helped people carve out uninterrupted, tech-free time, which appears to make people both happier and more productive.

One of Perlow’s earliest studies, “The Time Famine,” focused on software engineers at high-tech firms. Her findings will likely sound familiar to parents struggling to work from home. Perlow describes three problems that lead to longer hours but less overall productivity in the workplace.

First is the “crisis mentality.” For the software engineers Perlow studied, a new crisis was always brewing, like a serious bug in a product about to ship. Workers often had to abandon their planned work in order to deal with that crisis. That planned work was ignored until it eventually became a crisis, and once things reached crisis level, work was rarely efficient or thorough.

A second problem is “individual heroics.” Engineers at the company Perlow studied were rewarded for responding to crises by “doing high visibility work, accommodating the demands of the work, and being present.” Engineers rarely felt that they could say “no” to a work request. That was the case even when an engineer knew from experience that a new project or approach would not succeed or could not be completed in the expected time frame. When the engineers accepted such requests, they ended up putting in extremely long hours at work, even when they could have worked remotely, because they perceived being seen at work to be important to their success. Because being seen at times seemed more important than actual work output, the engineers also devoted more time to projects that were more visible, but not necessary more vital.

Both the crisis mentality and the concept of individual heroics lead to a third problem: a constant cycle of interruptions. Workers trying to solve the current crisis or appear as individual heroes tended to interrupt their colleagues more frequently, leading to decreased productivity for all.

As other researchers have found, all those interruptions add up. Gloria Mark, a professor at the University of California Irvine who researches how people interact with computers, found that each workplace interruption cost an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s how long it takes people to get back on track when their work is interrupted.

A “vicious time-work cycle”

A crisis mentality. Individual heroics. Frequent interruption. These three elements make up what Perlow calls the “vicious time-work cycle.” Each new crisis creates more individual heroics, which causes more interruptions, which makes work take longer. Work piles up, setting the stage for a new crisis next week.

Work-at-home parents might see themselves in this time-work cycle.

Parents certainly adopt a crisis mentality. In addition to all of the actual crises parents have to manage, parents often drop everything for imagined crises. It’s all hands on deck when a child has to potty train before preschool starts in two weeks, or when another child outgrows a wardrobe and her shirts are hovering near dress code violation, or when the band concert is tonight but the kid just split his last reed.

Parenting is also built on the concept of individual heroics. Parents often jump in to resolve all of a household’s imagined crises, whether it’s intervening in a sibling fight, dropping off homework, or making bake-sale cupcakes. But in attacking these problems parents are putting in more time for less output. They are not focusing on the most important tasks to complete, just the most visible.

Like the workers in Perlow’s study, parents deal with near constant interruption. Even the simplest cleaning tasks are open to interruption. A stray banana peel on the counter distracts a parent from vacuuming. How did this get here? It’s cut. Did my three-year old reach a knife? Now she’s neglected both the floor and the counter to re-kid-proof the kitchen. That’s to say nothing of work time interruptions, like doorbells, or questions hollered down the stairs, or a guilty-faced kid hovering at the office door.

The solution: “Quiet Time”

Perlow found that workers stuck in the time-work cycle were working incredibly long hours, but had relatively little productivity to show for it.

Perlow’s solution for the engineers borrowed a strategy parents have long-relied upon to get things done. She implemented two blocks of “quiet time” into the workday, during which engineers were expected to work without interruption from colleagues or managers.

Perlow found that employees who had guaranteed quiet time reported more job satisfaction. They also completed their work in a much shorter period of time. Perlow has extended this work to many other businesses, many of which find that employees can actually reduce overall work hours by implementing quiet time in their offices.

Making time for “Quiet Time”

Work-at-home parents probably cannot declare five to six hours of uninterrupted quiet time per day, as Perlow did for the engineers in her study. But we can adopt Perlow’s strategies to accomplish more work in less time, as long as we establish some quiet time best practices.

1 | Set a specified quiet time.

The first thing work-at-home parents need to do is designate specific “quiet time” blocks. Although many parents rely on naptime for their most pressing tasks, the findings of interruption science researchers like Gloria Mark demonstrate the problems with depending upon that daily of free work time. Assume that your nap-taking children spend about an hour napping on average, and, for the sake of argument, we’ll assume (delusionally) that if you have multiple children, they all nap at precisely the same time. It will take 10 minutes to settle into a task, so in the best case scenario, you’ll have 50 minutes of solid work time.

But it will rarely be the best case scenario. If you’re interrupted even one time, according to Mark’s research, you’ll need another 23 minutes or so to settle back into work. So for that hour of naptime, you might get 27 minutes of work done.

Instead of relying upon infrequent naptimes, or squeezing in hours at the start or end of your long parenting days, set a specified quiet time and rigorously defend it. Perlow discovered that when quiet time was held wasn’t as important as the fact that quiet time was honored. So start by carving out whatever window of time works best for your family. If everyone in the family has work to do, quiet time can be a specified time on weekday evenings. If you’re a parent to young kids who don’t yet have homework, quiet time might require more creative manipulation of the schedule. You might, for example, pay for three hours of child care two days a week to get six uninterrupted work hours.

If this seems impossible to you, consider that data about naptime again. Let’s say that your part-time job requires 10 hours a week, which you try to squeeze in during the early mornings and naptimes. But let’s say that half of those mornings and naptimes are interrupted, a generous assumption. All of those interruptions are killing your productivity, and if you’re getting up early or staying up late for some of that time, you’ll lose productivity to sleep. So skip all of that and get yourself just three hours of uninterrupted time, twice per week.

2 | Head-off crises

The engineers in Perlow’s study did not succeed at quiet time right from the start. Many found that they were unprepared for long stretches of uninterrupted work time because they were so unused to having it. Once they made strong to-do lists, however, they found quiet time to make a significant impact on their productivity.

If you are working in the same space as your children, you’ll need more than just a to-do list to get things done. One small step with potentially large rewards is reorganizing your common spaces. If your quiet time is in the mornings, consider reorganizing your dishes so that young kids can get their own cereal. Keep non-toxic cleaning supplies within reach so they can take care of their own spills. It also helps to be invisible. If your workspace is within view of your kid’s play space, enlist them to help you make privacy blinds. If they see the blinds, they’ll know you’re not ready to play yet.

3 | Halt the heroics

As a parent, you’ll have to weather the real crises. But you don’t have to be the hero of imaginary crises. Parents with children of all ages are guilty of feeding the flames by responding to the crisis du jour. For parents with toddlers, it might be responding to every tantrum. For parents of older kids, it might be driving in forgotten homework. For high schoolers, it might be last-minute essay editing. In all of these cases, your quiet time should not suffer the consequences of their choices.

4 | Hold the chores

Quiet time and chores don’t mix. This doesn’t mean that the dishes can wait. It just means that during your scheduled quiet time, there’s no room for housework. This includes parents’ favorite multi-task, the laundry. Yes, parents have mountains of laundry to do. And tossing in a load between other activities can feel like effective multi-tasking. But if you’re switching over laundry every 45 minutes, you’re costing yourself 23 minutes and 15 seconds of work time. Switching your laundry to a different time of day may make it easier to avoid laundry-based interruptions. Better yet, delegate the laundry so that older kids are responsible for taking care of their own. Doing a 12-year-old’s laundry is an excellent example of unnecessary individual heroics.

This list is just a starting place to make quiet time work for you. As all parents know, a shush can be short (SHHH) or long (SHHHHHH). Add as many Hs as you need (hold this, halt that) until you’ve made the space you need to work productively.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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Here's how Halloween unfolds in most households I know: Mom spends weeks—even months—planning the perfect costumes for little ones. Then Halloween creeps up and they realize they need an outfit to coordinate with the kids' get-ups. What's a mom to do?!

Thankfully, there's no need for fear or pressure: There are so many ideas for parents that are easy to make and still super clever.

Here are a few ideas for coordinating with popular baby costumes:

1. Sloth and tree 


My little one is going as a sloth this year—and given the fact that one of us will more than likely be wearing him Halloween night, we've decided to coordinate his costume by being a tree. All you need is a brown outfit paired with a DIY leaf hat or headband.

2. Taco and hot sauce 


I'm not sure if there's anything cuter than a baby taco and you can totally rock a hot sauce costume to go with. Black leggings, red top and green beanie make for a great hot sauce costume.

3. The Addams Family 


All you need is some creativity with your wardrobe, but I bet you have all these things already.

4. Bee and the bee catcher


If your little one is going as a bee this year dressing as a catcher is easy, well, can bee! ?

5. Rock, paper, scissors


You'll need some paper, scissors and... sharpies!

6. Fish and fisherman 


Every fish needs a fisherman...

7. Cop and robber 


Turn the tables and let your little one keep you in line.

8. A bag of Jelly Beans


I mean, how cute is this?

9. Farmer and piglet or cow, chicken or pony


If you little one's rocking a farm animal costume this year you can tag along as their farmer. Blue jeans, boots and a flannel and you'll blend right in!

10. Avocado and toast 


Go as your favorite breakfast combo!

11. A circus lion and a trainer 


12. Spider and web 


If you are baby-wearing this Halloween, dressing your little one as a spider and you as a web is simple and so clever!

13. Lion and safari guide 


If you little one is rocking a roaring lion costume this year, going as a safari guide is the perfect ensemble!

14. Mother of dragons


Except these are the cute kind of dragons!

15.  Sun and moon 


​Take your costume game out of this world. 🚀

16.  Hawaiian shirt and pineapple 


This may be the easiest yet: If baby is going a pineapple or other piece of tropical fruit, just throw on a Hawaiian shirt and pretend you're attending a luau!

17. Bakers and donuts


Who said you can't use floaties in the fall?

18.  Shark and surfer 


Baby shark this Halloween? Dress as a surfer with board shorts and flip-flops. Add some fake blood if you have a baby Jaws.

19.  Burger and fries 


Nothing goes better together than a burger with a side of fries and a baby burger will have everyone's taste buds going this Halloween. Add a side of mom or dad fries to the mix and you've got a tasty Halloween costume!

20.  Fire fighter and Dalmatian 


If your little one is rocking a puppy or firefighter costume this year, you can go as the opposite. We all know firefighters and pups go hand in hand!

21.  Football player and football 


Gooooo, team!

22.  Red riding hood and the big, bad wolf 


Little Red Riding Hood always needs a big, bad wolf following her around. Buy or make a wolf mask and you will be the perfect pair!

23.  Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion or the Scarecrow 


There are some great costume options to mix and match from The Wizard of Oz. And you know everyone will get the reference!

24.  Elephant and ringmaster 


That cute little elephant could use a ringmaster on Halloween night. All you need is a red blazer and bow tie.

25.  Milk and cookie


Got a baby cookie this Halloween? A refreshing glass of milk will pair nicely with it. Make carton of milk out of a cardboard box.

26.  Ice, ice baby 


Dress as two bags of ice... And a baby. This costume is perfect for those teeny tiny babies that you want to keep indoors on Halloween night. Clear trash bags make for great "ice" bag costumes!

27.  Mouse and cheese 


If you've got a mouse running loose this Halloween, lure them in with a slice of cheese. One of those cheese slice hats makes for a great cheese costume!

28.  Owl and Harry Potter 


If baby is going as an owl this year you could go as one of Gryffindor's finest by breaking out an old graduation gown.

29.  Fox and hound 


A baby fox isn't complete without his hound pal. Paint your face a puppy and add some ears.

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According to the American Psychiatric Association, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a mental disorder that affects more than 8% of children. The primary symptoms are inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought.

Even though ADHD is a condition that most everyone has heard of, there are a lot of misconceptions about it. The problem with these beliefs is that they add to the existing stigma around mental illness and make it harder for kids to get the treatment they need. Understanding how to parent or teach a child with ADHD requires knowing how the condition works.


Here are eight common and dangerous myths about ADHD:

Myth #1: ADHD isn't real.

You'll sometimes hear people say that ADHD isn't a real condition, that the increase in diagnoses in recent years is part of the larger phenomenon of overmedicalization in our society. However, a consensus has existed within the medical community that ADHD is real and can be serious. Brain imaging scans show differences in brain development among children with ADHD, and research suggests that the condition can be inherited.

Skeptics question the authenticity of ADHD in much the same way they question the authenticity of other mental disorders. For instance, most people will experience symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. Does that mean most people are clinically depressed? Of course not. Similarly, even though many people find it difficult to focus on a task on occasion, only those with ADHD experience the spectrum of symptoms as a feature of their daily lives.

When people express doubts about the existence of ADHD, they reinforce the feeling kids have that there is something wrong with them they cannot fix or change. Acknowledging the condition helps kids externalize it as a set of symptoms that they can work to address and that explain why certain tasks are more difficult for them.

Myth #2: Kids with ADHD are poorly behaved.

Adults may see a child with ADHD talk out of turn or grab a toy from a playmate and conclude that the child is poorly behaved. This type of judgment overlooks the reality that kids with ADHD struggle with impulse control. In other words, they probably know that blurting out the answer in class is "wrong," but they may be unable to stop themselves from doing so. It shouldn't be assumed that kids who act out have ADHD, though. While ADHD can contribute to disruptive behaviors, it is never the sole determinant.

Myth #3: Kids with ADHD aren't as smart as their neurotypical peers.

The fact that kids with ADHD can have a harder time keeping up in school doesn't mean they're less intelligent than their classmates. They just process information differently. For example, kids with ADHD tend to be visual learners, which means they learn best when they can see the idea being explained, either in their heads or on a screen or piece of paper. Visual learners should be encouraged to take lots of notes or draw the things they're learning.

Myth #4: Kids with ADHD can't pay attention.

The mostly true stereotype about ADHD is that it makes it hard for kids to focus. When kids with ADHD find an activity that captures their interest, however, they can become engrossed in it. This can be a problem when a parent or teacher wants a child to move on to a new task because children with ADHD struggle with shifting their attention.

For example, a parent might find it impossible to pull their child away from a video game or TV show. On the other hand, a child might become hyperfocused on a productive activity such as an art project or a sport.

Myth #5: Kids with ADHD aren't trying hard enough.

Along with people who don't believe that ADHD is real, there are some who think that kids with ADHD need to try harder to pay attention in class or sit still at the dinner table. They see kids who are disorganized and unmotivated as lazy or undisciplined. Misunderstanding children with ADHD in this way can prevent them from getting the treatment and resources they need to thrive. It can also lead to the kind of harsh parenting or teaching that causes poor self-esteem and makes kids feel like something is wrong with them.

Myth #6: ADHD is only a problem for boys.

When people think of a kid with ADHD, they might picture a boy who is loud and a constant blur of activity. While the condition is indeed more prevalent among boys, many girls suffer from it, too. Compared to boys, girls with ADHD may appear spacey and off in their own world. They can be especially sensitive and emotionally reactive. They may also be more talkative than their peers and prone to interrupting others. In some cases, parents and teachers are not as well attuned to the symptoms of ADHD in girls and it often goes undiagnosed.

Myth #7: Medications for ADHD are gateway drugs.

Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants are the most commonly prescribed class of ADHD drugs. These drugs include amphetamine-based stimulants (Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat), dextromethamphetamine (Desoxyn) and methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Ritalin). There's an idea that kids who take medication for ADHD are more likely to abuse illicit drugs in their teens and beyond. But in reality, the opposite is true: Kids who take medication for ADHD are less likely to engage in substance abuse than kids whose condition goes untreated.

Myth #8: Medication is the only remedy for ADHD.

While the medications for treating ADHD in children have been proven to be effective and safe, there is no miracle drug. Children with ADHD will likely have to try varying combinations of medications and therapies before settling on the right one. In the area of emotional regulation, practitioners have found success with video games that incorporate biofeedback, as well as relaxation strategies such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. It's important that parents and teachers be flexible in their understanding of what works and appreciate that every kid is unique.

The bottom line: ADHD is treatable. When kids with ADHD receive the proper treatment (like psychotherapy, behavior therapy and stimulant and nonstimulant medications), they experience improved self-esteem, feel more at ease among their peers and family members, and are better equipped to lead happy and successful lives. If you think your child has ADHD, meet with a doctor or psychologist to determine the best way to proceed.

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Learn + Play

It's not quite Halloween yet but that doesn't mean we're not ready for holiday movies. Netflix just released its 2019 Holiday movie lineup (and if you think that's early, consider that Hallmark dropped its Countdown to Christmas more than a month ago) and we're ready for Holiday-themed rom-coms and family-friendly movie nights.

Netflix is serving up a mix of recycled Christmas content as well as brand new original movies and series.

The streaming service is kicking off the season with a Netflix Original movie, Holiday in the Wild, starring Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe on November 1.

Netflix Family on Instagram: “Rom coms. Seasonal baked goods. Shirtless Rob Lowe. There’s a little something for all of us this holiday season.”


Other Netflix originals include Let it Snow (a teen comedy about how a snowstorm on Christmas Eve impacts a group of high school seniors) on November 8, and Klaus, an animated movie that will be a hit in any Minions-loving home as it is by the co-creator of Despicable Me on November 15.

Klaus | Official Trailer | Netflix youtu.be

And the highly anticipated second sequel to a breakout Netflix Original drops on December 5. The first A Christmas Prince was an unexpected viral hit, the second captured Royal Wedding fever and now the third, The Christmas Prince: A Royal Baby is coming to your Netflix account.

Here's the rest of the holiday lineup:

November 1

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Holiday in the Wild
  • Christmas Break-In
  • Christmas Survival
  • Elliot the Littlest Reindeer
  • Holly Star
  • Santa Girl
  • The Christmas Candle
  • Christmas in the Heartland

November 4

  • A Holiday Engagement
  • Christmas Crush
  • Dear Santa

November 8

  • The Great British Baking Show: Holidays Season 2

November 15


November 21

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL The Knight Before Christmas

November 22

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Nailed It! Holiday! Season 2

November 26

  • NETFLIX KIDS Super Monsters Save Christmas
  • NETFLIX KIDS True: Winter Wishes

November 28

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Merry Happy Whatever

November 29

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Sugar Rush Christmas

December 1

  • A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish

December 2

  • NETFLIX KIDS Team Kaylie: Part 2 Holiday Episode

December 5

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

December 6

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Magic For Humans Season 2 Holiday Episode
  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Spirit Riding Free: The Spirit of Christmas

December 9

  • NETFLIX KIDS A Family Reunion Christmas

December 24

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Lost in Space Season 2

December 30

  • NETFLIX KIDS Alexa & Katie Season 3 Holiday Episode

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My love,

Hang in there with me. These days are hard—so hard. We work tirelessly every day to raise our four kids under five. We're at the stage of life with little ones where no matter how hard I try to look presentable, get out the door on time or keep everyone's schedules straight, I somehow manage to feel like I've dropped the ball on something. It always feels like chaos.

I know my hair is a mess, the state of the house isn't much better. Sometimes I haven't showered in three days, and don't get me started on the last time the house was vacuumed. I walk barefoot and cringe, then put shoes on so I can ignore the floors for one more day.


Most of the time I'm grumpy because young kids require a lot. A lot of attention, a lot of direction and a lot of hand-holding (despite our best efforts to help them learn to do for themselves). I'm hormonal, resentful burnt out, and experiencing some bouts of depression. Most days I feel like I don't like you (or anyone, really.)

And yet, despite being angry one minute and fine the next, I need you more than ever. My harsh words are simultaneously meant to sting and act as a cry for help. I'm fearful that I'll never get back my old life, let alone my old body. I often don't feel like myself. While I'm physically feeding this new human (that happens to be hungry every three hours), I'm battling these hormones that have me gazing at our new baby in wonderment one minute and crumbling to pieces the next.

I long to reconnect with you again. I long to put that stellar dress and heels back on. But I feel like leaky breasts are probably the least sexy thing, right?

These days, I choose sleep over date night. I choose a "night in" over a fun time with friends. I obsess over feeding schedules. I constantly Google my fears. I cry over the crib. I'm mourning the loss of my old life and trying to figure out this new one. This new beautiful chaos that we created together.

I don't feel like the old me and that's scary, but I know there is hope that things will get better. As it gets better it will be different. We're evolving together as a unit that created an entirely new life. Our old life a thing of the past.

I just ask that you love me until I'm "me" again.

Don't stop.

I'm trying to remember that these challenges are not forever. The late nights up with a newborn won't be forever. The hormones will resettle, and I won't be so weepy all the time. My breastfeeding journey will eventually come to an end. Our children will grow, become more self-sufficient and eventually need us less and less.

I know I will start to feel like a whole person again. I may even feel like exercising again. Just hang in there with me. Hug me when I'm crying for no reason. Bring water while I'm breastfeeding. Tell me I'm beautiful as I am (even with my new flabby stomach).

Love me through my postpartum phase of mourning and depression when it rears its ugly head. Love me through it all because that's why we fell in love in the first place. Love me until I'm me again because even if I don't feel it now or show it right now, I'm still in there.

I wouldn't want to do life with anyone else except you.


Your postpartum wife

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