A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

I still shower every day, and 5 other things becoming a mother hasn’t changed

It was 3am, and I was standing in the shower, hunched over my big pregnant belly, sobbing. I had been in labor since 1:30 and the contractions were getting more intense, but that wasn't the reason I was crying.


I was freaking out because I kept thinking, “What have I done? Is my life about to change forever?"

All of the mom blogs I'd read and stories I'd heard emphasized one thing: After you have a baby, your life completely changes. But what if you really liked your pre-baby life?

If that sounds like you, I have good news—your life doesn't completely change. A lot of things change, and you might not recognize yourself or your life from time to time, especially during the early days. However, overall you remain you and the important things in your life stick around.

Here are some things in my life that have remained constant in the nine months since my son was born:

1. I still shower every day

There's a stereotypical image of the new mother—sleep-deprived, dirty hair up in a messy bun, covered in spit-up, etc. Well, my messy-bun game sucks, and my body has a finely-tuned ability to feel like a complete greaseball after exactly 24 hours without bathing, so this wasn't going to work for me. I vowed that I would shower every day, and unlike most of my resolutions, this one stuck.

Granted, I can't remember the last time I used my blow dryer, and my yummy salon-quality shampoo and conditioner has been replaced by some fancy Suave 2-in-1. I do usually manage to put on mascara though, because I don't enjoy being spooked by a lashless ghoul every time I walk past the mirror (Curse of the Blonde Eyelashes!). Sometimes I even dance with the Devil and attempt some liquid eyeliner. You don't know an adrenaline rush until you're trying to finish the perfect cat eye while your baby screams in the other room. (I jest, of course. I've never actually achieved the perfect cat eye.) I tell myself that I'm going for the beachy, natural look. If you see me in person, please don't destroy my delusion. My hair may look like crap, but at least it's clean.

2. I keep in touch with friends

A good Bluetooth is a lifesaver for the stay-at-home mom. My best friend recommended getting one after her husband bought one as a last-minute Mother's Day gift for her. She said, “I acted mad because it seemed like a poor gift that he clearly found at the pharmacy while he was buying the card. However, it's actually incredibly useful." (We're never admitting that to him, of course—solidarity, sister!)

Babies take at least two hands (sometimes three or four) to wrangle, so a Bluetooth means that you can keep discussing the latest episode of The Great British Baking Show while changing diapers or lassoing a toddler. Genius, I tell you.

It also does away with your friends' pesky excuses to get off the phone once you've overloaded them on baby details for the day.

“Oh man, it sounds like you need to go feed Ben!"

“Nope, don't worry, I have my Bluetooth and this puppy has an eight hour charge on it. I can keep talking all day!"

Mwahaha!

3. I still have time for my marriage

Obviously, when baby first comes home, your partner will take a slight backseat. This is okay, because shaving and wearing normal underwear also take a backseat for a few weeks. Nothing says romance like a nice pair of granny panties and prickly legs.

Newborns take a huge amount of time and energy, but here's the great news—they only stay newborns for a few months (this is also sad news because they're so sweet and squishy and sleepy as newborns *heart eyes*). After that, their sleep starts consolidating and you get lovely three-or four-hour chunks of time to hang out with your partner, get in some hanky-panky, hire a babysitter and go out for the evening, or just stare off into the distance together in a tired stupor.

Things do change in your relationship, but you don't have to lose each other. My son now goes to bed at 7pm and generally sleeps through the night, so my husband and I get to take off our “Mom and Dad" hats and just be partners again. Usually this just means we get to watch TV together, but that's enough sometimes.

4. I get plenty of sleep

A few disclaimers on this one. My definition of “plenty of sleep" has definitely changed since becoming a mother, and much to my eternal gratitude, my son is generally a great sleeper (so I have it pretty easy here). Also, this isn't true of the newborn stage for anyone. Ever.

Yes, for the first few months, you will probably feel like a zombie. There are days when you're so tired that you'll cry. You will think you can't survive. You will regret all of your life decisions that led to this point, and you will vow to never have another child. (I'm very dramatic about sleep, if you couldn't tell.) BUT: This. Will. Pass.

Babies do learn to sleep. They do. I promise. Even “bad" sleepers learn to sleep. You can survive this and someday, sooner than you think, you'll feel rested again. You may not recognize the feeling, but then your baby will start teething or hit a growth spurt or something and you'll remember what tired really felt like. You will then vow to never take sleep for granted again, but you will, because humans have terrible memories.

5. I still have time for myself

I firmly believe that naps are the universe's way of saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful Mother, here is your reward!"

I use my baby's nap times to chill out, take a nap, read, write stuff, clean the house, or do whatever I need to reset or put my little world in order. Oh yes, I still even have time to clean! I'll admit that vacuuming is tricky, but that's mostly because my dog decides that the sleeping baby needs to protect her from the scary vacuum and barges into his room. The vacuuming he can sleep through, the 80-pound panting beast in his room, he cannot.

I'll admit, there are days that my son decides that he's so over naps and will no longer sleep for more than 20 minutes. Those days are awful. For those moms of babies who always nap like that: God be with you. I don't know how you do it.

You can't actually leave the house during nap times, but luckily, I'm an introvert and my social needs are blessedly low. What I need is lots of alone time to putter around the house and do whatever I want, and naps are perfect for that.

6. I exercise

Strength training: 40 reps of carrying squirming baby up and down stairs, 20 reps of going back up the stairs to grab the thing you forgot because you're a mother now and your memory isn't 100%, five reps of holding squirmy baby in one arm while preparing a bottle with the other because he believes life will end if you put him down for two seconds, 100 reps of fending off surprisingly strong baby from whatever you have in your hand that he wants: phone, remote, food, coffee cup, shoe, etc. Ten reps of carrying 35 pounds of dead weight in one hand (infant carrier plus a baby) and a million pounds of groceries in the other because only suckers take more than one trip to unload the car.

Cardio: Five sprints to finish unloading groceries from car because you are, in fact, a sucker and there's no way you can carry a box of diapers, laundry detergent, a gallon of milk, a bunch of fresh fruit for baby food and a jumbo-size box of cookies for yourself all at the same time. Five more sprints to the door per nap to quiet the dog before she wakes the baby. Bonus points for silent ninja running. Extra bonus points for running so quietly that the dog doesn't hear you.

Your boobs, belly, skin, and idea of appropriate small talk may permanently change after you have a baby, but the important things stick around. If you're currently pregnant or thinking about having a baby, and you find yourself panicking about what life with baby will look like, slow down, take a breath, and remember that there will be a period of upheaval, but things will normalize again. You will still be you, and your life will still include the things that are important to you.

Babies change a lot of things, but they don't change everything. You might even have time to blow dry your hair again (eventually).

You might also like:

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

When we consider all the skills our kids will need to succeed in the future, what comes to mind? Perhaps creativity, tech skills, or an excellent understanding of math might be at the top of many parents' lists. Social-emotional skills, like empathy, compassion, or the ability to understand another person's viewpoint may not be the ones you thought of right away, but deep down you know they matter.

We've all had those co-workers who didn't know how to listen to our ideas or friends who couldn't compromise with others. We know that in the work world and in our personal life, emotional skills are key to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

If you are the parent of a toddler, you know that young children are inherently self-centered. It's not some faulty aspect of their character or a misstep of parenting skills. Young children simply do not have the brain maturity to consider another person's perspective or needs just yet—their brain physically is not ready to handle that kind of mental work.

However, child development research shows us that we can do a few things along the developmental path to help foster social-emotional skills in our kids. With a little help from us, our kids' brains can develop with meaningful connections that tune them into the feelings of others.

Here's how:

1. Treat others how you want your kids to treat others.

How we talk to our kids becomes their internal dialogue. We know from research that this goes for emotional skills as well. A recent study showed that when parents talk to their kids more about how other people might be feeling, the kids had better perspective-taking abilities—the ability to see a situation from another person's point of view.

This, of course, is the basis of many emotional skills, especially empathy. Just by talking about another person's feelings, kids begin to develop those crucial brain connections that help them develop empathy.

It's worth pointing out that very young children under ages 3-4 do not have the brain maturity to really understand another person's perspective. They lack a crucial skill that psychologists call Theory of Mind, meaning they can't understand the mind of another person.

However, our urgings and thoughtful phrasing to point out how another person might be feeling can only help them down this developmental path. Then, once their little brain matures, they will be in the habit of hearing and understanding the feelings of others.

2. Model positive emotional behavior in daily life.

It's probably not surprising to learn that how we react to our kids' feelings influences their emotional development. When your child gets upset, do you get angry or ruffled by their big emotions? We are all human, of course, so sometimes our kids' emotions are the exact triggers that fuel our big feelings, too. However, if we can remain the calm in the emotional storm for our kids, their development will benefit. Through modeling emotional regulation, over time our kids will learn how to self-regulate as well.

One study, in fact, showed that toddlers whose parents exhibited anger or over-reacted to tantrums were likely to have more tantrums and negative emotionality by the end of the study. However, the opposite dynamic can happen, too. Parents who model firm, but calm emotional regulation help their kids learn these skills as well.

3. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions.

Many times, we feel that one of our main jobs as a parent is to protect our children from the big, often overwhelming emotions of adults. For instance, we try not to break down crying or become red-faced with anger in front of our kids. It just feels too big for them to handle and perhaps not developmentally appropriate.

As they mature, however, older kids are able to handle a bit more discussion and expression of honest emotions. Have you noticed that kids usually pick up on the fact that you are upset even if you try to hide it? Kids are naturally curious and, many times, very sensitive to the emotional tenor at home. If they are developmentally ready, this can be a good time to have more discussions about emotions and how to handle them.

For example, my 9-year-old is playing a lot of baseball this summer and always wants me to pitch to him so he can practice batting. Now, I am not a very skilled player so my pitches often go off course or are too weak. He had gotten in the habit of correcting my pitching or (more likely) complaining about it every time we played.

After repeated experiences with this, I was not only annoyed but it also sort of hurt my feelings—so I finally told him how I felt. Guess what? His behavior at practice time changed dramatically! The mere fact of him realizing that his mom has feelings too really made him think about his words more carefully.

These types of interaction can become part of your "emotion coaching." It may sound silly but it can make a big impact for kids, especially as they grow older and are more able to really understand the emotional lesson. On some level, it's nice that our kids think we are superheroes, but it's also crucial that they understand that we are still human, with real feelings.

The magic of helping our kids develop empathy doesn't happen in well-planned lessons or elaborate activities. The real magic happens in the small, simple interactions and discussions we have with our kids each day.

You might also like:

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

You might also like:

Sometimes it can feel like you never get a minute to even finish a thought—let alone a to-do list. When your day is packed with caretaking, your own needs get pushed back. So when you finally get to lie down at the end of the day, all those thoughts are waiting for you. While we haven't figured out the secret to keeping you from over-analyzing every.single.thing. (sorry, mama!), we do believe you must carve out time for you. Because that rest is just as important—and you've certainly earned it.

XO,

#TeamMotherly

PS: We spoke to Jessica Alba and she gave us the lowdown on why she stopped breastfeeding, and Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale until August 5th. Here's everything we want!

My Instagram feed has been full of pictures of friends that their kids to the beach. I get it, I like the beach a lot. But the forest and the mountains are my real loves.

The way the damp leaves smell in the morning. The peace of walking underneath a canopy of trees. The sound of firewood crackling at night. Sigh, heaven.

I also grew up camping with my family and have done some intense hiking, backpacking and search and rescue. So it's kind of in my blood—I wear my frostbite scars with honor.

So I couldn't wait to get my future kids out into nature (minus the frostbite). I had visions of us hiking to a stream, swimming and splashing all day, then cooking a big meal over a campfire as we sing songs and laugh.

Then, I actually became a parent. Of three kids, actually, all of whom are still very young… and a dog… and a husband who doesn't really like camping.

Despite the realization that it wouldn't be exactly as I planned, this summer we finally decided to take our first camping trip as a family.

Here is what I learned:

1. Set the bar low

I had to remind myself over and over again that this trip would not live up to my expectations. I know this sounds like a bummer way to start a trip, but it really helped. I have the tendency to over-plan and get really (really) excited about things. This is not a bad quality, but it can lend itself to disappointment when things don't go as hoped. I didn't want us to leave the trip feeling like it was a failure in any way.

This trip was a success, and a big moment for our family, no matter how it turned out.

Instead of forcing activities or memories, I forced myself to just… be. Not expecting the trip to be magical opened us up to appreciate the unexpected moments of magic as they occurred naturally, without being forced.

This got harder, of course, when our car got stuck in the mud (true story), and we had to wait three hours for AAA to arrive. But when our kids talk about the camping trip now they still squeal with delight as they recount the story of the tow truck coming. You're welcome (I guess)?

2. We made it really easy

I put my camping ego aside, and we took a lot of shortcuts on this first trip. We didn't stay in a tent but rented a barebones cabin instead. For dinner, we ordered a pizza. And we let the kids play on our phones for a little bit in the evening.

Those things didn't make for a truly authentic experience, but goodness, they really helped. I have started to realize that there is no shame in making things easy, especially when you have little kids. And they didn't know any different. As far as they are concerned, we hiked the Appalachian Trail and gathered all our own food from the earth.

This was a lazy camping trip, for sure—and that was exactly what we needed.

3. I over-prepped for safety so I could calm down

I have hiked and camped in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in February—this was not that. At any given moment on our trip, an ambulance could have easily reached us, and we were only a few minutes away from a hospital at any point. But it made me feel much better to know that we were safe and ready for anything that should happen.

We bought a first aid kit, a survival kit, too many flashlights and bottled water. I was really big on everyone wearing good footwear and teaching them how to walk carefully on uneven terrain.

We also used the opportunity to teach about other areas, like water safety. Rita Goldberg of the British Swim School recommends "[teaching kids] to avoid water hazards and to not approach a fountain, river, pool or lake without an adult's supervision and permission."

We also incorporated their "Water Watcher" program, which assigns a "badge of responsibility" to one adult at all times, who maintains a constant watch over the kids while they are near water.

These easy steps, that we decided on ahead of time, made me feel much more relaxed, and therefore better able to enjoy our time.

This trip took some emotional adjustments on my part. It wasn't glamorous, or particularly exciting. But that was exactly what it needed to be. Emily Glover wrote that "by getting away from the distractions of home and focusing on each other...we're reminded of what really matters."

We found that in the woods—together.

You might also like:



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.