A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

Like all new parents, my husband and I experienced profound shifts in our relationship after the birth of our first child. For the first few months we were trapped in a haze of sleepless nights and exhausting days and simply struggled to survive. After we finally emerged from the newborn phase and established a new routine, however, I felt a deep dissatisfaction roll in. When searching for a solution to my newfound irritation, my husband and I mistakenly began by focusing on my resentment towards the new chores in our life. However, I finally realized that my anger instead stemmed from the new mental load I had to carry. I simply didn’t want to accept that my new normal involved a complicated tangle of logistics and a long list of things to keep on my constant mental radar.


I had already known that adulthood was composed of a long list of areas of responsibility: finances, food, house maintenance, laundry, and so on. However, what I had failed to fully appreciate was that each of these areas of responsibility required planning, scheduling, management, maintenance, and occasional troubleshooting. When we became parents some of these areas simply increased in intensity (laundry, groceries, cleaning), while some entirely new areas appeared (our daughter’s childcare, health, feeding, etc.). This quickly maxed out my available brain space because I was not just dealing with an increase in specific chores. Instead, each area involved performing multiple tasks and juggling many pieces of information. For example, managing my daughter’s health meant scheduling regular pediatrician visits, recording her vaccinations, locating the nearest hospitals and emergency rooms, keeping lists of questions to ask her doctor, and knowing the days and times of the walk-in health clinic.

Finally recognizing this fact helped my husband and me chart our way back to a more satisfying life together. As we explicitly acknowledged and discussed the division of our various areas of responsibility I began to appreciate all of the things my husband had on his own radar. The cognitive burdens he had been shouldering had been largely invisible to me, and the same had been true for him. For example, he noticed when a bill needed to be paid, a car’s oil should be changed, hail damage to the roof needed to be repaired, the lawn had to be mowed, or the computer needed new anti-virus software. What’s more, he took the initiative after noticing these things. Like me, he did the research, scheduled the appointments, and completed the tasks in his areas seamlessly. Once we discovered the existence of these areas in our partner’s life, we realized some important things about how they function best:

1 | Areas of responsibility don’t need to be equally distributed, but they need to feel equal to both parties

Keeping score is never healthy in a marriage, and the number of areas will never completely match up on both sides. We found that it’s more important that both partners feel satisfied with how things are divided. For example, I take on more areas because I work half-time and my husband works full-time. If that were to change, we would need a renegotiation and more outsourcing and delegation of tasks.

2 | You should both play to your strengths

My husband is an engineer who grew up in the country. He is excellent at calculating, building, repairing, and making things grow. This is why he takes on the maintenance of the cars, house, yard, and garden. I’m an organized planner who likes to cook so I take on the management of our family’s health, the planning of meals, and the juggling of our social calendar. As a feminist and a product of a woman’s college, I’m not thrilled with how our areas of responsibility line up neatly with traditional gender roles. Unfortunately, I don’t currently have the time or energy to hone new skills and change this. (I hope to later.) For now, my husband and I plan to teach both our skills sets to our children.

3 | It’s okay to delegate

Just because you manage a particular area of responsibility doesn’t mean that you can’t hand off related tasks now and then. My husband is more than happy to pick up groceries for us if I give him a list. I can take the car in for a repair if he tells me what I need to relay to the mechanic.

4 | Divide the areas of responsibility if you need to

Occasionally, we are unable or unwilling to take on an area fully. If it’s possible, it can work well to simply divide it. I quickly became overwhelmed by the increase in laundry (baby clothes, burp rags, cloth diapers, etc.) so I told my husband to do his own. I now only manage my own and my daughter’s laundry.

5 | Have explicit conversations about your areas of responsibility

These need to be made visible and to be discussed. It can be tough for the other partner to understand the heavy mental burden created by an area of responsibility or even to realize that one exists. Open discussions about these areas and their related tasks can help reveal sources of resentment and the need for understanding and gratitude.

6 | Set up a system that works for you

If it’s your area of responsibility, you get to decide how you manage it. I work well with paper lists set out on the kitchen countertop. My husband prefers his customized, color-coded Excel spreadsheets. Both systems function efficiently. We just make sure the other has access to the system and understands how it works.

7 | Don’t get too distracted by simplifying, streamlining, or dividing the tasks themselves

Focusing exclusively on individual chores can make it easy to lose sight of the fact that it is almost always one partner who is ultimately responsible for an entire area of responsibility. It’s great to use a crockpot to shorten meal prep, but someone is still in charge of food in the household. That person must research crockpots, buy one, find recipes, make lists of ingredients, and chop the ingredients the night before. Still exhausting, right?

8 | Take the time to appreciate your partner’s areas and say thank you often

It’s a heavy burden to be in charge of an entire area of responsibility, and this burden is even more oppressive if it goes unnoticed and unappreciated. It might sound silly, but I thank my husband every time he checks the weather and mows the lawn before it rains because I am genuinely relieved I don’t even have to think about this. He does the same for me when I manage other areas of our life. I like both receiving gratitude for the burdens I shoulder and giving thanks for the ones I dodge.

It’s important to realize that the areas of responsibilities we experience as parents are far from static. They constantly alter as our families’ lives change and our children grow. For example, the areas in our own household are about to undergo another profound shift as our second daughter arrives in the spring. I know a bit more now about what we’re in for: a heavy newborn fog and then an intense period of adjustment to the new arrangement of responsibilities. Very possibly there will be resentments and tensions for a while as we settle in.

However, I’m hopeful that, as before, my husband and I will come out the other side stronger and wiser for the experience. We need to keep in mind what we’ve already learned about our areas of responsibility and how to manage them. If we can do this, we have a shot at both shouldering our new burdens side by side and at sharing the new joys of our expanding family together.

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

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

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

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

Our Partners

Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

Coverage:

A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

You might also like:

News

[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

You might also like:

News

[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

You might also like:

Life
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.