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1) Shut up, I don’t actually hate summer, I’m not a MONSTER. Just stay with me.


2) Mosquitoes. Obviously. Hey mosquitoes WE ALL STILL HATE YOU. I have done zero research on this and I am completely confident that mosquitoes could be wiped off the face of the earth and nothing – not one single thing – would be negatively impacted. Humanity would just march onward toward climate-change oblivion. Climate Change: Now Without the Itch!

Imagine how sweet. Sit under the stars and just think of it. Oh wait, NO! DON’T sit outside! You are covered in mosquitoes. You are BLEEDING OUT. Congrats! You have malaria.

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3) The ice cream truck. When at first you come singing It’s A Small World After All, when you come to us just as we have closed on the longest, darkest months of the year with your hopeful playfulness and sweet delights…oh, how I love you. And you when you come back a second time, I am amused: Ok kids, have another ice cream, life is short. But when you come back EVERY SINGLE NIGHT EXACTLY AT DINNERTIME? When you come back just as I’m about to triumphantly deliver some (albeit questionable) hot dog-type protein to my mildly nutrient- deficient offspring? When you do that? Well. You can go FUCK YOURSELF, Ice Cream Pusher-man. You can take your type-2 juvenile diabetes on wheels and… and… and… DRIVE AWAY. You are a heartless drug-dealer not even dealing the good kind of drugs. You’re not like: HEYHEYHEY lil mommy, here’s a margaritttaaaaa. No. You are dealing Sponge-Bob popsicles with gum-ball eyes, BLACK gum-ball eyes, LICORICE gum-ball eyes. Because black licorice is terrible and we are all dead inside.

4) The Farmer’s Market. Why? Because you and your man-bun are there doing partner- circus-flying-trapeze yoga. Is that your girlfriend holding you up? Stop it. I am trying to eat this organic, vegan samosa and your effort to be the farmers-marketest-whitest-white guy EVER is highly distracting. No one cares, bro.

Also, your toddlers are dirty. Wash them.

5) Guess what? Everyone on Facebook is having a better summer than you are. Than I am. Than ANYONE has ever had, or will ever have. Seriously, LOOK. It’s right there for the world to witness and it’s PERFECT. There are pics of boats, beaches, cabins, sunsets, picnics, festivals, outdoor movie nights, bouquets of flowers, glasses of wine, date-nights, perfectly camp-fired s’mores, and beach books hovering above bronzed thigh gaps through which you can see the sparkling and beckoning surf.

People are only and eternally #blessed and #grateful and #sandinmytoes. No one is fighting, no one is crying, no one is poor, no one is working weekends, no one is not getting laid, no one is languishing for hours playing Minecraft, no one is stressed out, no one is throwing a tantrum, and no one is ever trying to accomplish actual work while children lurk and watch with vacant eyes.

On Facebook, the entire world is a dream-board of expertly executed summertime memories. Yeah. Go there. See it. Feel bad. Your summer sucks.

6) Which brings me to this: the perennial and relentless pressure to have the best summer everrrrrr. I mean, have you done ALL the things? Well, HAVE YOU? Have you been to the farm? Have you been to the other farm? Do you have a garden? Is it picturesque? Will you can it – jam it – pickle it? You DO have a farm-share though, right? RIGHT? Have you hiked? Canoed? Kayaked? Biked? Camped? Have you been stand up paddle-boarding? My GOD, have you even done yoga on the paddle board? Have you been to the river? The pond? The lake? The ocean? Do you have a hammock? Are you IN IT? HURRY UP, PEOPLE. It’s gonna be mind-scrambling COLD in less than two months and/or tomorrow. There are memories to be made. ALL the memories MUST be MADE.

7) And finally: summertime rolls. So fast, too fast. I hate this part the most. It comes rushing like vernal rivers swelling and urgent, and it’s gone again too soon. Somewhere inside the fleeting warmth of these long, light days are moments of unadulterated perfection. Perfectly imperfect. They’re not the moments you planned for, or fretted over, or dreamed of. But here they are – moments translated into memories forever imprinted on your family, your squad, your tribe.

Memories branding you, writing your story. Like that time you quit work early and ate gas- station salami sandwiches driving on a back road with all the windows down and nowhere to be. Or that time a dip in the lake turned into an epic water fight, a battle to dominate the last raft floating – the one still not popped – kids clawing, clamoring, exhilarated by the shocking sound of a mom yelling HOLD YOUR FIRE, YOU LITTLE SHITS.

Or the time you bought the drugstore kite and tried to fly it in the cemetery and fell backwards over a gravestone while your kids clutched their hearts laughing at you, directly AT you, and you thought this must be what success feels like: the sound of their laughter alive in your blood. It’s that heavy eyelids, sticky forehead, still-a-baby, sunburned nose of a growing seven year old boy fighting sleep to tell you that he had fun today, that it was a good day today. And his love is all you’ll ever need, his love is all the summers coming and gone pressed together, shot through with wonder, and set ablaze in your heart. So full it might explode. So full you can’t breathe.

Because here it is, and there it goes. Another summer, another year, another collection of days caught like fireflies in a jar and let go again. It’s nothing we planned. It’s everything we hope for. Light slanting, days shifting, circadian rhythms tick-tocking. And it rolls.

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When you're pregnant with your first child, all sorts of curve balls are thrown your way. For example, the fact that morning sickness doesn't actually have to happen in the morning was a real shocker to me. Or the news that moms-to-be can start producing milk as early as 14 weeks! Or—and here's the biggest doozie—the reality that you for the duration of your child's life you're going to need not one, not two, but three different seats in the car. Say what?

I vividly remember being overwhelmed when I was creating my baby registry the first time around—so much so that I had to take a break in the store's glider section! But learning that I was going to need an infant car seat, a convertible car seat and a booster was, well, a tough pill to swallow. But I swallowed it nonetheless because at the time there simply weren't any other options.

Today, however, that's no longer the case. Enter: The Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Convertible Car Seat. It's true, mamas, there's now an all-in-one car seat solution out there that seamlessly transitions from a rear-facing infant seat to a forward-facing convertible seat to a big-kid booster. This one product can safely hold your baby from four to 120 pounds—from infancy to 10 years old!

The Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Convertible Car Seat


If you're a seasoned mom you might be thinking… "Um, ew." Because, yeah, kids are messy. And everything from baby spit up to crushed snacks to leaking water bottles will likely get on this seat (again, and again!) over the course of those years. Anticipating this, Evenflo made sure the seat pads are fully removable and washable, and you can also remove the two cupholders, which are dishwasher-friendly.

More to love: The EveryStage actually adjusts into 10 different positions in total; you can keep you baby rear-facing longer in it, up to 50 pounds; and its EasyClick™ latch means you don't need to get into the car to safely install the seat. I repeat: YOU DON'T NEED TO GET IN THE CAR TO INSTALL THIS SEAT! If I had a dollar for every nail I've broken, knuckle I've scraped while installing my kids' car seats… well, let's just say I'd be a very wealthy woman.

All in all, I'm here to say that this car seat is well-worth the investment because it's a product that's going to grow with your baby. Buy the EveryStage by clicking on the Shop button below!

Price: $230

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

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Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, there are some clear favorite products that have been in everyone's cart. Personalized gifts were a hit this year and so are Montessori presents for the little ones so it's no surprise that this wooden name puzzle is one item that everyone is buying for their kids this season on Etsy.

The puzzle is totally customizable—you can pick up to 10 letters and choose from four different color schemes and come up with your own.

You can shop it now to get it just in time for the holidays:

Personalized wooden name puzzle

Wooden Name Puzzle with Bear and Mountain, Christmas Gift, Personalized Gift for Toddlers

The puzzle will help little ones learn letters, colors, shapes and how to spell their names. It will also help them with their gross motor skills as they put letters into place. Plus, this store has more than 7,000 5-star reviews. 🙌 The price ranges from $29.99 to $47.99 depending on how many letters you choose. It also comes with a cute bear and a mountain for extra cuteness.

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While toddlers frequently say "no" as a matter of principle, by the time your child reaches the preschool years, they likely have a legitimate difference of opinion when they argue. And that's fine—great actually. We want our children to think for themselves, to examine the information available to them and form their own opinions rather than blindly following others.

This is actually a big focus in Montessori classrooms. Rather than a teacher dictating information to the children to memorize, they are encouraged to explore the environment and materials provided and to discover things for themselves. One of the purposes of this method of teaching is to help children form an identity as free thinkers, as scientists and self-learners who are capable of discovering knowledge and drawing their own conclusions.

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Even if they're not trying to be rude, if they're just trying to assert themselves and share their thoughts, young children's arguments can seem rude and abrasive. They haven't mastered the art of respectfully disagreeing in a way that makes others want to hear them out.

As mamas, if we can look past the rude language and avoid getting mad, there's a great opportunity to help our children learn how to disagree respectfully, which will help them be heard.

Try these phrases to teach your children how to respectfully disagree:

1. "What do you think about that?"

If you can see that your child is about to argue, beat them to it and ask for their thoughts. This changes the dynamic of the interaction, making it cooperative rather than combative.

2. "Do you have a different opinion?"

If your child says something like "No way!" or "You're wrong," invite them to share their opinion. By staying calm you will show them that you're open to discussion and they will become less defensive and quick to argue over time.

3. "Would you like a turn to talk?"

It often takes lots of practice for young children to learn not to interrupt. Help your child by telling them when you're done talking. If your child starts to interrupt you with an argument, use a silent signal such as holding up one finger to show them you're not done talking. Invite them to share their thoughts when you're ready.

4. "You can say 'I have a different opinion about that.'"

Sometimes you explicitly have to tell your child what to say, like offering them a script. When your child disagrees with you in a way that seems rude, offer them a better way to express themselves. Take a deep breath and give them the benefit of the doubt that they're not trying to make you mad, and give them a do-over.

5. "I hear that you disagree. How can you say that differently?"

After you've practiced more respectful ways to disagree a few times, prompt your child to think of a more polite way to phrase an argument, rather than giving them the script. This will help them internalize and really practice socially acceptable ways to disagree.

6. "It sounds like we need a moderator."

Using a moderator can be a powerful tool for children and adults alike. If you have a really strong disagreement—maybe your child wants to have their first sleepover and you're not sure they're ready—try using a moderator like an aunt, uncle or friend. The point is to model the process. Make sure to choose an issue where you're okay with either outcome or it can backfire!

7. "Wow, you have a strong opinion about that."

Many times, all a child needs is to know that they are heard. By validating your child's dissenting opinion ("Wow, you have a strong opinion about what shoes to wear!") you can often diffuse the situation.

The more your child sees you staying calm during a disagreement, the more they will follow your lead.

8. "I don't think that's right. I'm going to ask a question."

Children really do as we do, not as we say. We can talk to them all day about disagreeing respectfully, but in the end, they are going to copy what we do.

Try to find opportunities to model respectful disagreement in front of your child. It could be as simple as inquiring about a receipt that doesn't seem right or offering a different opinion to your spouse about what restaurant to go to.

Show your child that it's okay to disagree, and it can be done without anger.

9. "You didn't want to play cars. What could you say to your friend?"

Whether your child is the type to run to you for support every time they have a disagreement with a friend or the type to hit or yell at their friend if they disagree, you can steer them toward a more effective social dynamic.

At first, you will likely have to help your child a lot to think of ways to respectfully disagree with their friends, but with practice, it will become more natural for them.

10. "Let's play a game!"

Role playing is a powerful (and fun!) tool that we use all of the time in Montessori classrooms. If there is an issue in the classroom, such as children bumping into each other without saying "excuse me" or children distracting each other from their work, we take turns role-playing acceptable ways to handle the situation at group time.

This is something you can do in your family too. Create a scenario, such as two children disagreeing about sharing toys or two children disagreeing about what game to play, and role-play different things your child could try.

Make sure to try their suggestions as well as your own!

11. "Let's try the peace rose."

The peace rose is another tool used in many Montessori classrooms that's very effective with some children, and not with others, but it is certainly worth a try.

The idea of the peace rose is that two children who are having a disagreement can pass the peace rose back and forth as they each take a turn to talk. They are encouraged to express their feelings and opinions about a situation and brainstorm a solution.

It can be discouraging when it feels like your child argues over everything! Just remember that you are raising a strong, independent thinker who will be able to challenge authority and peer pressure when necessary. With your help, they'll learn to do so in a way that will serve them, rather than antagonizing others.

Learn + Play

Soon after I stopped breastfeeding my last baby (okay, toddler—she was nearly three), my in-laws offered to take the kids overnight so my husband and I could enjoy some much-needed couple time. It happened to be the day of March for Our Lives, and I'd spent it trudging down the boulevard holding a sign, listening to stories from grieving parents who had lost children to gun violence. My kids were perfectly safe at my in-laws' house, but I wasn't used to being apart from them and my anxiety—always simmering just below the surface—boiled over.

Dinner and a movie with my husband were good distractions from my worries, but when we came home to a silent, dark house empty of children, it just felt wrong. I walked into my girls' room as if to check on them, but instead of seeing their sweet sleeping faces and hearing their gentle snores, there were empty beds. My heart pounded as a terrible feeling of doom came over me. I started to sob and couldn't catch my breath, ending up curled in a ball on the lower bunk, clutching my daughter's teddy bear.

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What was wrong with me? Sure, I missed my kids, but this wasn't just melancholy. It was a full-on panic attack and not at all normal for me.

I suspected my state had something to do with the hormonal changes from recently weaning. Unfortunately, as much discussion about the challenges of breastfeeding and postpartum depression have entered the mainstream, there is still very little information available about post-weaning depression or anxiety. So little that it's not even an official diagnosis.

However, the practitioners I spoke with knew exactly what I was talking about.

So what is post-weaning depression?

"It's totally a real phenomenon," says Dr. Ellen Vora, MD, a holistic psychiatrist in New York who estimates that 60% of her breastfeeding patients experience 'blues' after weaning. "They feel sad, more anxious, more irritable."

That certainly sounded like me. Other symptoms can include tearfulness, hopelessness, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.

"I have definitely seen plenty of women get blues with weaning," says Dr. Jessica Schneider, MD, an OB-GYN in Los Angeles. "I have always assumed that most of it is hormonal," she explains, outlining several significant hormonal shifts that occur when breastfeeding stops. "As we wean, our prolactin levels go down, which may cause some depressive symptoms. Our estrogen levels go up, which is why we get our periods back, and the hormonal swings can cause mood symptoms."

There is also the loss of mood-boosting oxytocin, sometimes called the cuddle hormone, which keeps anxiety at bay. In a study published in Life Sciences, oxytocin was shown to relieve depression in mice and was even more effective than antidepressant medication. So, for some, it could be possible that stopping breastfeeding may feel like going off an antidepressant.

It appears that the onset of symptoms is typically two to three days after weaning, though there can be a delay. Since post-weaning depression isn't talked about much, women may be caught off guard by unexpected mood changes. After weaning, "the assumption is, 'I'll be free, I won't have to rush home anymore, it will be a relief,'" says Dr. Aarti Mehta, MD, a reproductive psychiatrist in Chicago. "So, when there is depression or anxiety, it's a surprise."

Are you at risk for post-weaning depression?

Post-weaning depression may be more likely when a mom is conflicted about ending the breastfeeding relationship. "Some women feel guilty that they aren't breastfeeding for longer. Or sad that the baby weaned before they had planned," Schneider says. "A few patients have told me that they really enjoyed nursing and because it was the last baby they were having, they were sad because they knew they weren't going to nurse again." (I fell into that last category, for sure.)

Women who experience mood swings during their period and/or experienced postpartum depression are more likely to be affected by weaning, Vora says.

Post-weaning depression prevention + treatment

Weaning abruptly can make hormonal changes more dramatic, so Mehta recommends tapering off slowly, such as dropping one feeding per week.

"Allow yourself to grieve properly," advises Vora. "Give yourself an afternoon to process it rather than moving on with your life."

In addition to talk therapy, Vora stresses the importance of self-care, including eating nutrient-rich foods, getting more sleep, and getting help with household chores through outsourcing. "Reallocate some funds toward getting groceries delivered, help with laundry, and help with drop-off and pick-up to take some of the burdens off of Mom."

The good news is that post-weaning depression generally only lasts a few weeks. If it continues, then there is probably more going on than just hormonal changes. "It's a call to action, to look under the hood" and get some help, Vora says.

If depressive symptoms persist longer than a week or two, Dr. Mehta sometimes prescribes a short-term course (around six to nine months) of antidepressants. Though she adds that only 1 to 3% of patients experience depression lasting long enough to warrant medication.

I was in that 1 to 3%. Having never been on antidepressants before, I was scared to try them, despite strong encouragement from my doctor. Would my personality change? My creativity? But as it turned out, all that changed was my fear and sadness. I only wish these solutions were apparent to me from the outset, or that I'd been educated about post-weaning depression before I'd suffered through it.

With a little help from SSRI's during a rocky time, I was finally able to be the mother I wanted to be. I was ready to move past breastfeeding and embrace my kids' newfound independence — though I continue to hug them way more than necessary.

This story originally appeared on Apparently.

Life

The holiday season tends to wreak havoc on our bank accounts. Between the gifts, the parties and the inevitable self-indulging, most people blow through their holiday budgets in no time and dip into other accounts. But it doesn't have to be that way, mama.

Here are 17 ways you can start working towards your financial goals now.

1. Rebuild (or start) your emergency fund

To rebuild your savings in the new year, set up automatic transfers. Typically, we advise clients to save a minimum of 10% of their gross monthly income. They set-up automatic transfers to move the money from their checking account to their savings account on the days they get paid. Just set it and forget it, you'll be amazed how quickly your savings grow!

2. Set up goal-based budgets

Another tool we use to help our clients get organize is goals-based budgeting. Make a list of the goals you hope to accomplish next year, then figure out how much you need to save to make them a reality. Planning a vacation for June that will cost you $1,000? Transfer $200 to a travel savings account each month and you will save that money in just five months. You can have a different account for each goal and make contributions on a weekly or monthly basis.

3. Start saving for the next holiday season

To avoid the usual holiday spending trap, start saving for next year now. Putting just $50 away each month will help you save $600 for next year. Can you afford $75 each month? That will get you to $900.

4. Track spending + cut wasteful costs

A new year is a great time to review your spending from the previous year. Take some time to look over bank statements and credit card bills to discover your problem areas (some credit card companies even provide year end summaries showing what you spent on the most). This can help you identify areas where you are overspending or wasting money. You should also review the subscription services you and your family utilize. Are you using them? If not, cancel them.

5. Clean out your closet + declutter your home

This is perfect time to clean out your closet and get rid of items you no longer need or want. You may find that there are clothes you forgot you owned, some of which have never been worn. You might be able to save yourself a shopping trip just by organizing your closet and seeing what you already own. Clean out junk drawers, hall closets and kitchen cabinets. Take inventory of everything you find and use it all before you go out shopping.

6. Sell unwanted gift cards, clothes, electronics, etc.

Did you get a gift card you'll never use? Are you holding on to clothes that you will never wear? Do yourself a favor and take advantage of sites like Raise, CardPool and GiftCardGranny that allow you to sell unused gift cards for cash. Once you've cleaned out your closet and decluttered your home, use thredUP, Poshmark, or Tradesy to sell clothes and shoes. For electronics try Gazelle, Nextworth, or Ebay. Amazon and Best Buy also have trade-in programs that allow you to exchange electronics for store credit.

7. Save up your spare change

This is probably the easiest thing you can do to save money this year. I keep a mason jar on my windowsill and empty the change from my wallet into it every couple weeks. Some people take this a step further and put dollar or five dollar bills into a jar every time they clean out their wallet. Either way it adds up over time, and once you've filled the jar you can use this money to treat yourself to something special.

8. Make a change

Are you eating too many meals out? Do you have a bad (and expensive) habit you've been meaning to kick? Make a point to tackle these problems in now. Not only will it help you save, but you will also make strides to improving your personal well-being too.

9. Do the side hustle

Sometimes cost cutting just isn't enough. Figure out a side hustle that can help you bring in more income. It doesn't have to be starting your own business, it can be something simple, like babysitting or dog waking. Have experience in hospitality? Waitron is revolutionizing staffing in the NYC area. You can become an employee and work as often (or as little) as you want.

10.  Start investing

Investing doesn't have to be scary! And you can start small! The easiest way to get invested is to make sure you are enrolled in your employers' retirement savings plan. Ready to take the next step? Try using one of these apps to help you get started, Stash, Robinhood or Acorns. For those a bit more comfortable with the stock market, you can buy shares of an ETF or enroll in Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs).

11.  Try a no spending challenge

Sometimes we get off track and need to refocus. When this happens, I recommend trying a no spending challenge. Whether it be for a month, a week or just a few days, it is beneficial to reset and find a way to recommit to your savings goals.

12.  Schedule cash-only days

Like the No Spending Challenge, cash only days give you the opportunity to be more mindful of your spending. Using cash instead of credit cards will help you identity areas where you're being wasteful. Typically, people have a harder time shelling out cash than they do swiping a card. You will notice that you are less likely to make impulse purchases and end up spending less when you shop.

13.  Automate payments

Monthly credit card payments should be automated to avoid missed payments and the resulting late fees. In addition, you can automate your cable, utility, cell phone and pretty much every other monthly bill to be automatically deducted from your bank account or charged to a credit card. If you are deducting from a bank account make sure you have enough funds to cover the payment and that you are enrolled in overdraft protection, just in case.

14.  Do credit score maintenance

Everyone should use CreditKarma to check their credit score. There are always opportunities to increase your score, and doing so will help you in the long run when you apply for things like personal loans, mortgages or additional cards. For those who have a high credit score and are responsible card users, there are many opportunities to earn rewards points. CreditCards.com is a great reference for finding cards that best fit your needs and help you build the rewards that will be most useful to you.

15.  Look for daily deals + comparison shop

Groupon, Living Social and other daily deals sites can help you save money on everything from household items to vacations. You should do research and shop around, but don't write off these sites. When shopping for more expensive items, make sure you shop around compare prices before making a purchase.

16. Negotiate a raise

This time of year, many companies are doing their annual performance reviews and giving out raises and promotions. If you anticipate that you will be receiving a raise or promotion you should do your research ahead of your annual review.

Find out what people in your position make at other firms using Glassdoor. Make sure you are earning what you're worth and don't be afraid to ask for it! Chances are if you are receiving a promotion they value you as an employee and will be open to paying to keep you.

17.  Learn accountability + mindfulness

The most important aspect of a financially fit lifestyle is creating accountability and mindfulness around your financial decisions. You should set goals with specific intentions and see them through. Creating a rewards system or doing a monthly review of you spending are two ways to create accountability and mindfulness.

Originally posted on Financial Gym.

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