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Some of the best parenting research out there discusses what experts call “authoritative parenting,” part of Diana Baumrind’s theory of parenting styles. After observing parent-child interactions, she categorized parents into four quadrants based on whether they had firm limits or high expectations and how accepting or involved they were with their children.


Authoritative parenting ranks high on both dimensions: warm and involved, while also holding high expectations and firm limits. Authoritative parenting is associated with just about every positive child outcome, from academic achievement to social skills to fewer behavior problems. 

 An often minimized aspect of Baumrind’s theory is a third dimension called appropriate autonomy granting. Authoritative parents allow and support their children’s independence. They set them up to succeed in these independent tasks. This is an exceptionally important addition given that children develop self-esteem, grit, and a sense of responsibility from completing important work.

Autonomy granting includes things like chores and choice over clothes, routine and after-school activities. The three components of authoritative parenting (warm/involved, firm limits/high expectations, and appropriate autonomy granting) have become associated with academic achievement, fewer behavior problems, and psychological health.

Chores serve as an excellent way for children to achieve the positive outcomes associated with autonomy granting. Unfortunately, research suggests that fewer families are including chores as a part of their regular routine. That’s a shame since chores have been associated with engagement in school, academic achievement, positive mental health in adulthood, and later career success.

LulaKids partnered with Parent Co. because they believe every parent could use a helping hand- even when those hands are tiny.

Ideas to integrate autonomy and chores into your child’s day

What’s developmentally appropriate for the adult

Many articles suggest chores by age for children, based on their developmental capabilities. While guidelines for age-appropriate chores are good for generating ideas, they do not take into account your individual child and family situation. This approach suggests some ground rules for adults in encouraging children’s independence. Meeting your child where they are.

The issue with age-specific chore charts is that every child is different. They have different interests and different capabilities (and that’s a good thing). Developmental milestones are no longer given an associated age, but rather an estimated age range.

Consider the following mantra: “I won’t do anything for you that you can do yourself.” Perhaps one five-year-old can tie her shoes, while another cannot get his buttons buttoned. It makes sense to adjust your expectations and provide opportunities for autonomy where the child can succeed.

The importance of choice

When assigning responsibilities, children (and adults!) respond well to having some options and ownership over their tasks. Provide your children some choice. My five-year-old daughter and I create a chore chart together. She hates doing the laundry (and whines the whole time) but loves emptying the dishwasher (and sings the whole time). Allowing her to choose makes life better for all of us.

Slow down and make time

One of the biggest obstacles to allowing children to take care of themselves or some household chores is time. Most families rush out the door in the morning (eliminating the opportunity for self-dressing) or rush to bedtime in the evening (eliminating the opportunity for children to complete evening chores).

Parents can allow the time and space for these important activities of childhood. Streamline your morning process if possible. Simplify your evening routine where you can. Build in extra time for children to take care of themselves and the home.

Embrace imperfection

Your children will not always match. Your dishes will likely occasionally (read: often) break. Learning lies in the imperfections. Teach your child how to clean up the broken glass safely. Accept that your child has a different fashion sense than you. It will go slow, and it will go wrong. Breath in and repeat: My child is learning something here.   

Modify your materials for success

Maria Montessori believed that much of the frustration of childhood stems from dealing with a world that was not designed with a child in mind. With some modification, your child may be capable of many more tasks.

A child-sized, cordless vacuum may give you the cleanest carpets you have ever had. A well-placed step stool can make the dishes much more inviting. LulaClips and LulaBlocs can make buckling up in the car-friendly for small hands.

Examples in action

To follow my five guidelines for granting autonomy to your little ones, here are five examples to get you brainstorming. Remember to involve your child in the process. They may have some great ideas for how they can take more responsibility for themselves.

Getting dressed

By age three, most children are capable of participating in the dressing process. By age six, most children are capable of dressing themselves from head to toe. By age eight, most children will be capable of washing and folding their clothes.

Getting dressed is an excellent “chore” because it allows for ownership of self, personal expression, and typically will free up some time for the parent on busy mornings.

Make sure clothes are stored in a way that your child can easily access them. Emphasize choice as much as you can. Children are not restrained by the rules of fashion, and that’s a good thing. Streamline other parts of the morning routine so you can give your children the extra time they need to complete this task independently.

Safely getting in the car

By age two, most children are capable of climbing into their own seat. By age five, most children can buckle themselves securely and safely. By age six, most children will be capable of assisting siblings in the process.

This “chore” allows children to feel incredibly accomplished. The first time they properly secure that five-point harness, their smile will light up the car. It will also allow the parent more time to load the car.

Make time for this chore by getting the kids out to the car first and then loading everything while you give them the space to accomplish their task. You can modify the task to make it more child-friendly by installing LulaClips or Lulablocs in your car.

As with all new tasks, your child will be successful some days and struggle on others. Emphasize that some difficulty is part of the learning process. Praise their efforts (not the outcomes) to encourage them to keep working when it feels challenging. Lend a hand when they need it.  

Eating

By nine months of age, most children are capable of participating in feeding themselves. By age two to three, children are fully capable self-feeders. By age five, children can set and clear the table. By age six, many children will be capable of making a simple meal or packing their lunch.

The incredible bonus of giving your child more autonomy during the eating process is that they will eat better. Mealtime battles will decrease as your child participates more in preparing meals and mealtime.

You can make this task easier by playing sous-chef. Make sure your child can access everything they may need to feed themselves. Create a snack center in a lower refrigerator drawer or shelf. Do the same thing in the pantry. Create a shelf that includes everything needed for packing lunches. A little prep ahead of time will reduce frustration and increase the chances your child will succeed.

 

Doing laundry

By age two, most children can help you stuff the washing machine and start it. By age four, they can help sort and fold laundry. By age six, kids can put away all their clothes. By age eight, they can handle this task from start to finish.

Laundry can be divided into two categories: before and after kids. Before kids, you had a regular day and routine. After kids, it became a never-ending process. Let your kids help you out.

As with all other tasks, modify the space to allow your children independence. Select a bottle of detergent they can safely handle. Put a step stool in the right place. Accept imperfection and praise their efforts.  

Cleaning up

By age one, most children are capable of cleaning up. In fact, dump and clean is a game for them, and they will enjoy it. Cleaning up after themselves will become a good habit before your child understands what a “chore” is.

Help your kids out by utilizing small bins that can be moved around the room, making it easier for children to fill up. You can encourage this activity by making sure it happens regularly (after each activity) so they don’t feel overwhelmed by cleaning an entire room.

It could be the most important thing you do as a parent

Childhood chores are associated with academic achievement and mental health. While making the time and space for your kids to complete activities can be challenging at first, remind yourself that these are not just chores. They are important life lessons. You will foster double the self-esteem and resilience with chores that you could with fancy music lessons or expensive sports participation (though these activities are good for other reasons). Plus, there is an immediate payoff: chores ease your load as a parent.

LulaKids partnered with Parent Co. because they believe every parent could use a helping hand- even when those hands are tiny.

 

 

 

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98

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3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99

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4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95

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7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99

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11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

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

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Orange Is the New Black star Danielle Brooks is pregnant and frustrated. The actress took to Instagram this week to lament the lack of plus-sized options for pregnant people.

"It's so hard to find some clothes to wear today....Although I get to pregnant I still can't find no clothes. It's so hard to find some clothes when you're pregnant," she sings in a lighthearted yet serious video.

"It's so hard to find cute plus size maternity fashion while pregnant, but ima push through," she captioned the clip.

Brooks has been talking a lot this week about the issues people who wear plus size clothing face not just when trying to find clothes but in simply moving through a world that does not support them.

"I feel like the world has built these invisible bullets to bully us in telling us who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to look like. And I've always had this desire to prove people wrong—to say that this body that I'm in is enough," she told SHAPE (she's on the new cover).

"Now that I'm about to be a mother, it means even more—to make sure that this human being I'm going to bring into the world knows that they are enough," she said.

Danielle Brooks is the body-positive hero we need right now. Now can someone make her some cute maternity clothes, please?

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In prior decades, body image issues usually didn't hit the scene until kids reached adolescence. But thanks to social media, and our culture's relentless pursuit of thinness, we now have to find creative ways to teach young children how to develop healthy body images.

Before I dive into some practical tips to help kids improve body image, I want to first diminish any shame that you might be feeling if you have body issues of your own. It's so important to remember that you downloaded every internal message from somewhere else. Of course, it's critical to work on your own issues, but it's also important to know it is not your fault that you developed them in the first place!

So, whether you are struggling with your own body image, or you love your body, here are some tools to help your child feel better about the precious body he or she lives in:

1. Break the spell

How do you know if your child has a bad body image? Perhaps they've begun making negative comments about their size or shape. Maybe they are comparing their body to others. Maybe they are avoiding foods or activities they once enjoyed because they feel uncomfortable about their body.

Often the most common response a parent has is to reassure their child that they are “fine," or “beautiful" or “perfect." And while there is certainly nothing wrong with some reassurance, it simply may not be enough to overpower the cultural messages kids are surrounded by. Reassure them that they are perfect just the way they are.

2. Unkind mind, kind mind and quiet mind

This little menu of options encourages kids to identify and differentiate between three different thinking states within themselves. I refer to them as “mind moods." Try teaching your child about these three states of mind and brainstorming examples of each. For example, unkind mind = “I hate my thighs." Kind mind = “I love singing." Quiet mind = Peacefully resting or playing.

This will raise their awareness of their thoughts and help them to choose their mind moods more consciously. As they learn to turn up the volume of their kind minds and spend more time in their quiet minds, they begin to feel more present and peaceful.

Once you have helped your child identify their unkind mind as a distinct voice, they can then try on some different responses and see which ones help bring them some relief. Try asking them to write or say all the messages their unkind mind is saying and practicing using strong, soft, silly or silent responses. Kids can learn that their unkind mind is not all of who they are, and that it doesn't have to run the show.

3. Get to the root

This concept helps kids discover what triggers their body dissatisfaction. You can help your child by asking questions or taking guesses about what might have started their bad body image. For example, I helped one 7-year old get to the root of her body obsession by noticing it started when there was a death in her family. Right around that time, her best friend started talking about dieting, so she latched onto food obsession as a distracting coping tool.

Once we uncovered this, she was able to learn about healthy grieving and truly healthy eating (as opposed to what the diet culture deems as healthy—which can actually be unhealthy).

4. Mind movies vs. really real

Try asking your child to show you some things around them that are real (i.e. things they can see, touch or hear). Then ask them if they can show you one single thought in their minds. You can playfully challenge them to take a thought out of their head and show it to you or fold it up and put it in their pocket. This tool teaches kids how to be more present.

Of course, they might use their imagination to do this, but with some finesse, you can teach your child to distinguish between the mind movies that cause them stress and the really real things around them. This is an immensely helpful tool that will not only help them with body image (since body image is one long mind movie) but will also improve the quality of their lives in general.

5. Dog talk and cat chat

Many kids cannot relate to the concept of being kind to themselves but ask a child how they feel about their favorite pet, and a doorway to their compassion, kindness and unconditional acceptance opens. For non-pet lovers, you can ask your child to imagine how they would speak to a baby or their best friend.

Dog talk and cat chat can help teach youngsters how to take the loving words and tones they use toward a beloved pet, and direct these sentiments toward themselves and their bodies.

6. Do an internal upgrade

In addition to helping your child combat the messages they receive out in the world, you can also work on the messages they get in your home. Again, if you struggle with body image, it is not your fault, but you can work on healing—and not only will you feel more peace, but your child will benefit as well.

To the best of your ability, refrain from talking about foods as “good" or “bad." Refrain from making negative comments about your (or anyone else's) weight or looks. Refrain from praising someone (or yourself) for weight loss.

Practice welcoming your child's tears and anger without trying to change their feelings before they are ready. Practice eating all food groups in moderation. Foster a positive, grateful attitude about your body.

May you and your child feel comfortable in your bodies, eat all foods in moderation, move and rest in ways that feel good, and find abundant sweetness and fulfillment in life.

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Learn + Play

After a long day of doing seemingly everything, when our partners get home it kind of becomes a habit to ask, "How was your day?" In between prepping dinner, handing off the kids, finishing your own work, we don't exactly get much value from this question. Sure, it may open up the opportunity to complain about that awful thing that happened or excitedly share that presentation you killed at work—but it usually stops there.

I could do a better job of really talking in my relationship. After 12 years and two kids, sometimes all we can come up with post bedtime routine is, "You good? I'm good. Fire up the Netflix."

Here are 21 questions to dig deeper into your marriage after a long day—see where they take you!

  1. Did you listen to anything interesting today?
  2. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?
  3. How much coffee did you drink today?
  4. Will you remember any specific part of today a year from now? Five years?
  5. Did you take any photos today? What did you photograph?
  6. What app did you open most today?
  7. How can I make your day easier in five minutes?
  8. If we were leaving for vacation tonight, where do you wish we would be heading?
  9. If you won $500 and had to spend it on yourself today, what would you buy?
  10. If your day was turned into a movie, who would you cast?
  11. What did you say today that you could have never expected to come out of your mouth?
  12. What did you do to take care of yourself today?
  13. When did you feel appreciated today?
  14. If you could guarantee one thing for tomorrow what would it be?
  15. If we traded places tomorrow what advice would you give me for the day?
  16. What made you laugh today?
  17. Imagine committing the next year to learning one thing in your spare time. What would it be?
  18. Did you give anyone side-eye today? Why?
  19. What do you wish you did more of today?
  20. What do you wish you did less of today?
  21. Are you even listening to me right now?

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Love + Village

Alexis Ohanian has made a lot of important decisions in his life. The decision to co-found Reddit is a pretty big one. So was marrying Serena Williams. But right up there with changing internet culture and making a commitment to his partner, the venture capitalist lists taking time off after his daughter's birth as a significant, life-changing choice.

"Before Olympia was born, I had never thought much about paternity leave and, to be honest, Reddit's company policy was not my idea. Our vice president of people and culture, Katelin Holloway, brought it up to me in a meeting and it sounded O.K., so why not?" Ohanian writes in an op-ed for New York Times Parenting.

He continues: "Then came Olympia, after near-fatal complications forced my wife, Serena, to undergo an emergency C-section. Serena spent days in recovery fighting for her life against pulmonary embolisms. When we came home with our baby girl, Serena had a hole in her abdomen that needed bandage changes daily. She was on medication. She couldn't walk."

The experience changed the way Ohanian viewed paternity leave. It was no longer something that just sounded like a good thing, it was a necessary thing for his family. It was crucial that he take it and now he is advocating for more fathers to be able to. In his piece for the NYT Ohanian points out something that Motherly has previously reported on: It is hard for fathers to take paternity leave even when their government or employer offers it.

A report from Dove Men+Care and Promundo (a global organization dedicated to gender equality) found 85% of dads surveyed in the United States, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands would do anything to be very involved in the early weeks and months after their child's birth or adoption, but less than 50% of fathers take as much time as they are entitled to.

Dads need paid leave, but even when they have it social pressures and unrealistic cultural expectations keep them from taking it and they choose not to take all the time they can. Ohanian wants lawmakers and business leaders to make sure that dads can take leave and he wants to help fathers choose to actually take it.

"I was able to take 16 weeks of paid leave from Reddit, and it was one of the most important decisions I've made," Ohanian previously wrote in an essay for Glamour.

Ohanian recognizes that he is privileged in a way most parents aren't.

"It helped that I was a founder and didn't have to worry about what people might say about my 'commitment' to the company, but it was incredible to be able to spend quality time with Olympia. And it was perhaps even more meaningful to be there for my wife and to adjust to this new life we created together—especially after all the complications she had during and after the birth," he wrote for Glamour.

In his NYT piece, Ohanian goes further: "I get that not every father has the flexibility to take leave without the fear that doing so could negatively impact his career. But my message to these guys is simple: Taking leave pays off, and it's continued to pay dividends for me two years later. It should be no surprise that I also encourage all of our employees to take their full leave at Initialized Capital, where I am managing partner; we recently had three dads on paid paternity leave at the same time."

The GOAT's husband is making the same points that we at Motherly make all the time. Research supports paid leave for all parents. It benefits the baby and the parents and that benefits society.

By first taking his leave and then speaking out about the ways in which it benefited his family, Ohanian is using his privileged position to de-stigmatize fathers taking leave, and advocate for more robust parental leave policies for all parents, and his influence doesn't end there. He's trying to show the world that parents shouldn't have to cut off the parent part of themselves in order to be successful in their careers.

He says that when his parental leave finished he transitioned from being a full-time dad to a "business dad."

"I'm fortunate to be my own boss, which comes with the freedoms of doing things like bringing my daughter into the office, or working remotely from virtually anywhere Serena competes. My partners at Initialized are used to seeing Olympia jump on camera—along with her doll Qai Qai—or hearing her babbling on a call. I tell them with pride, 'Olympia's at work today!' And I'll post some photos on Instagram or Twitter so my followers can see it too," Ohanian explains.

"The more we normalize this, on social media and in real life, the better, because I know this kind of dynamic makes a lot of men uncomfortable (and selfishly I want Olympia to hear me talking about start-ups!)," he says.

This is the future of family-friendly work culture. Take it from a guy who created an entire internet culture.

[A version of this post was originally published February 19, 2019. It has been updated.]

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