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According to the Mom Salary Survey, a stay-at-home mom in 2016 was worth $143,102. That’s because the moms surveyed took 33 discrete roles (janitor, nutritionist, groundskeeper, etc.) in their 92-hour workweeks. Working moms performed fewer household tasks but still put in 19 hours of overtime on household roles.


The survey (which is in its 16th year) is meant to show the value of the unpaid and often invisible work that many mothers do. Yet mothers who hire out some of that work may feel embarrassed or judged for spending on services that feel like luxuries.

 

What if we viewed paying for household services not as spending but as contract negotiation? This breakdown of six household chores  –ranked on a scale of ♦ (bad) to ♦♦♦ (good) – can help you determine which tasks you will benefit spending your time and energy on and which are worth leaving to experts.

Home cleaning

D-I-Y

Time Spent = 3.5 Hours

According to the American Time Use Survey, women spend an average of 29 minutes doing “interior housework.” That figure excludes laundry and food preparation, which are counted separately.

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Weekly Cost = $2.50

The expense of home cleaning is mostly tied up in cleaning supplies. Statistic Brain puts the cost of household cleaners at $42 per month, but that figure includes all household cleaning supplies (dish and laundry soap, for example), not just those associated with bi-weekly house cleaning. Assuming that even 25 percent of the cleaning supplies are used in bi-weekly cleaning, that’s about $10 per month and $2.50 per week.

Hire-it-out

Weekly Cost = $50-$75

Angie’s List users put the cost of professional bi-weekly cleaning between $100 and $150. If your house is large or if you are scheduling cleaning for the first time, you can expect that price to be higher.

Time Saved = 3.5 hours

If you pay for biweekly cleaning, you can eliminate all your typical vacuuming, dusting, and surface cleaning.

The time saved by hiring household cleaners is entirely dependent on how comfortable you are having things cleaned differently than how you clean them. If you’re the type of person who will re-vacuum the carpet to get the lines just so, a cleaning service won’t save you that much time.

Household Helper Rating ♦♦

Paying people to clean your home will cost you between $13.50 and $20.50 per hour of free time, making house cleaning one of the cheaper household chores to hire out.

Could you put in a little elbow grease and get the work done yourself? Sure. But when you employ people to clean your house, you haven’t just bought dust-free surfaces and a floor that lets you go sock-less. You’ve bought time. You can use that time to tackle much bigger and more rewarding home projects, like organizing an overflowing pantry or designing your dream closet.

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Laundry

D-I-Y

Time Spent = 2 hours

Women spend an average of 17 minutes per day doing laundry, for a total of approximately two hours per week. That figure includes all women, regardless of family size, so a large family will need to adjust this figure to include time spent emptying pockets of crayons and rocks and re-washing loads forgotten in the washer.

Weekly Cost = $10

To know how much it costs you to do laundry, you need to know a lot of things. If you’re washing at home, you need the number of gallons used in a washing cycle, the cost of water per gallon, the electricity used by your washer and dryer, and the cost of detergent, dryer sheets, and fabric softener. This handy calculator can help you make a reasonable estimate of your yearly laundry spending.

Assuming that you use a front-loading washer, that you wash half of your clothes on cold, that you pay $.15 per kWh, that your water cost is $5.50 per 1,000 gallons, and that you spend $.20 per load on detergent and dryer sheets, your average weekly cost of 10 loads of laundry is $9.75. That’s not including depreciation on your washer and dryer.

Hire-it-out

Weekly Cost = $58 – $192

Angie’s List puts the average rate for laundry services at $0.90 to $3 per pound. Assuming you do an average of eight loads per week, and that each load is about eight pounds, you’d pay somewhere between $58 and $192 per week.

Time Saved = 1 hour per week

Having laundry service saves you about an hour in folding as well as the time spent moving loads from washer to dryer. But you still have to gather the laundry. You still have to check the pockets. You still have to pretreat stains. You still have to remember to have it ready for laundry day or else you’ll be washing it yourself. You still have to get kids to put theirs away. Considering all of these factors, you may save even less than one hour per week.

Household Helper Rating 

If you’re paying top freight for laundry delivery services, an hour of free time is going to be very expensive: between $48 and $182. And that price won’t eliminate your laundry workload, either. You still need to run a load when someone says, “I need to wear that shirt tomorrow” or you change a blowout diaper on your duvet.

Before hiring out your laundry, consider the potential cost to your kids, who need to learn the character-building mistake of a red sock in a load of whites.

Shirt laundry

D-I-Y

Time Spent = 1 hour

The time it takes to wash and press a shirt changes dramatically with your skill level. Some can iron a shirt perfectly in three minutes. Then there are the rest of us, who pull crumpled piles of laundry from the dryer and spritz them into submission. Assuming that a shirt will take you closer to 10 minutes to iron and that you wash five shirts per week, you’re looking at 50 minutes of ironing. But shirts often require special care, like pre-wash treatment around the neck as well as occasional sewing, so you can expect about an hour per week per family member.

Weekly Cost = $1.00

Assuming you wash your shirts separately and that you’re using the washing machine conditions described above, the cost will be about $1.00.

Hire-it-out

Weekly Cost = $12 – $15

Angie’s list puts the cost per men’s shirt between $2.40 and $3.09. Your average cost will be between $12 and $15 per person.

Time Saved = 1 hour

If you use a laundry delivery service, all you have to do is put your delivery bag on your doorstep.

Household Helper Rating 

At $11-$14 dollars per hour, hiring out shirt laundry is one of the cheapest ways to buy yourself some free time. You’ll also buy less stress. There’s no low-level panic about whether or not a kid or pet will tip over the ironing board. There’s less opportunity for panic that a specific shirt isn’t ironed in time for a special occasion. And there’s less of a chance you’ll damage your favorite garments.

Hiring out shirt laundry may also buy you more workplace success because you’ll have bought a crisper, more professional-looking wardrobe.

Lawn Care

D-I-Y

Time Spent = 2 hours

Lawn sizes, driveway lengths, and homeowner association agreements all impact how much time you’ll spend doing yard work.

Weekly Cost = $1.11 – $1.84

Unlike the other home care services included in this list, this weekly cost includes power and equipment, because unlike household tools such as a vacuum or mop, if you are hiring out lawn care you do not have to own lawn care equipment.

If the average lawnmower has a lifespan of eight to 10 years, and you purchase a relatively inexpensive one for $200 and use that lawnmower 22 weeks per year, the cost of the lawnmower is about .90 per use, excluding power. The Simple Dollar puts the average power cost per acre at $1.04 for electricity and $4.70 for gas. Assuming your lawn is the national average size of one-fifth of an acre, that’s $.21 to $.94 in power per week.   

Hire-it-out

Weekly Cost = $30-$80

Home Advisor puts the cost of weekly lawn service between $30 and $80.

Time Saved = 2 hours

Like shirt laundry, lawn care is one of those services that doesn’t require any additional work on your part.

Household Helper Rating 

Paying for lawn service will cost you between $15 and $40 per hour of free time. If your lawn is bigger, you can expect to be on the higher end of that scale.

You’ll get less exercise and less Vitamin D if you don’t mow the lawn yourself but you can put that time toward a new outdoor hobby, like building a patio, planting an herb garden, or starting a bee colony.

Meal Planning

D-I-Y

Time Spent = 4.5 hours

According to the American Time Use Survey, women spend an average of 37 minutes per day on food and drink preparation.

Weekly Cost = $146 to $289

Your grocery bill is hugely impacted by where you live and where you shop. The USDA puts weekly grocery spending for a family of four between $146 and $289 per week.

Hire-it-out

Weekly Cost = $259 – $374

The prices of meal kit delivery services are much closer to restaurant pricing than to home cooking. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh both charge $8.74 per serving for their family packages, for a total of $139.84 for four 4-serving meals. That price tag leaves you just shy of the USDA’s lowest average food budget, but with seven breakfasts, seven lunches, three dinners, and all snacks and desserts unpaid for. If your family spends closer to the USDA’s lowest budget, you will need to spend another $119. If your spending is closer to the top, you’ll spend another $234.

Time Saved = None

Unless you pile up more meal kit delivery services, you’ll still have to grocery shop to fill your fridge. So it’s unlikely that you’ll save very much time on shopping.

Many of the popular meal kit services advertise prep time of 30-45 minutes per meal, which is not significantly different from the time it would take you to cook without a service. In fact, if your usual entrees are kid-friendly staples like pasta, a meal kit delivery service is likely to cost you time each week.

Household Helper Rating 

A meal kit delivery service is less of a timesaver and more of a hobby. Think of it like a four-night at-home cooking school for you and your family. But like all hobbies, it will cost you and likely take up more of your time. If you’re trying to buy yourself some free time, meal kits may not be the best choice.

If you’re a family of four, a delivery of four meals per week means you’ll have to go to the store. What you might really want to outsource is grocery shopping.

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Grocery Shopping

D-I-Y

Time Spent = 2 hours

The American Time Use Survey found that women spend an average of 45 minutes grocery shopping each week. That figure only includes time spent in the store. Add in loading and unloading groceries, travel to and from the store, and 15 minutes of getting the kids to get dressed, that’s two hours.

Weekly Cost = $146 – $289

Those are the averages the USDA provides for a family of four.

Hire-it-out

Weekly Cost = $161 – $304

Services like Instacart,  Peapod, Green Bean, and Door to Door Organics let you shop virtually in an app or online and receive your groceries at home on your scheduled delivery day. Augmented with Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, you may be able to outsource most of your weekly errands.

Assuming that the groceries themselves cost the same amount, you’ll be paying for processing, delivery, and in some cases, a tip. With a $5 delivery charge and a tip, you might be looking at an extra $10-$15 per order.

Time Saved = 1.5 hours

Setting up a grocery delivery is basically making a shopping list. You can do it 24 hours a day, making it easier to squeeze in menu planning into your spare moments. Grocery delivery will save you about an hour and a half. You’ll still have to put away groceries. Both the D-I-Y and the Hire-it-out plans assume you’ll also have to run out for an ingredient you forgot.

Household Helper Rating ♦♦♦

Hiring out your grocery shopping will only cost you about $10 per hour, making it the cheapest chore to hire out.  If you have small children, that’s an excellent value. You’ll avoid fighting with kids to put shoes on, saying no to constant snack requests, and making impulse buys as you near the checkout.

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How to decide when to hire it out

1 | Can you share the chores more equitably? If you are doing all of the chores, perhaps the first solution is to farm out some of that work to other family members, then determine what is the best value outside of the home.

2 | Can time away from chores help you at your paid work? For parents who work part-time and can pick up additional work, this is a no-brainer: time spared from chores can mean more time for paid work. And for all parents, hiring out a hated chore can mean more time for something more fulfilling.

3 | How willing are you to let go? Will you be bothered if the house isn’t cleaned to your exact standards? If the kids miss a crayon while collecting the laundry? If the produce in your grocery order is bruised? If your shirts aren’t starched to your liking?

4 | How do your chores work as a group? For example, if you grocery shop in person and your dry cleaner is inside the grocery store, home dry cleaning delivery doesn’t make a lot of sense. But if you get both the groceries and dry cleaning delivered, perhaps you can shave off a few hours per week.

What’s important here isn’t the specific cost of a free hour; your costs may vary greatly depending on where and how you live. What is important is this way of thinking, which can help you value your time and make household-management choices based on the value they add to your life.

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

walmart-best-baby-carseat

When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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

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Becoming a mom is overwhelming. You have this tiny little precious human that is yours to keep and take care of, and most of us have no idea where to even begin. Add to that all the products that are marketed (and targeted) at new moms and it can get even more confusing to figure out what you really need.

In those first few months, I can't even count the amount of middle-of-the-night Amazon orders I made, desperate to solve whatever issue it was we were having in that moment. Some worked, some didn't.

Here are all of things I wish I had bought before baby came so I could be prepared for *everything*.

1. Snoo

snoo

Why we love it: I got the Snoo when our son was 6 weeks old and I was desperate for some sleep. He was terrible at sleeping at night and I was at a breaking point after yet another sleepless night. My friend recommended the Snoo and, after reading all the reviews, I decided it I needed one. It took our son a week to get used to the new bassinet, but at 7 weeks old, his overnight sleep stretches started getting longer and longer and I started feeling like myself again.

The concept of the Snoo was created by Dr. Harvey Karp and it relies on some of the 5S of the theory he created to help soothe babies—sound, swaddle and a gentle swinging. The smart bassinet rocks your baby through the night while playing white noise, babies are swaddled and strapped in to ensure the safest sleep possible. If your baby fusses the bassinet reacts and swings a little faster and plays louder white noise. If your baby really needs you -because they are hungry or have a poopy diaper, the bassinet will stop and alert you.

More to know: The Snoo has a 30-day return policy, so if you or baby hates it, send it back and get a refund. They also offer the option of renting it since it's only good for the first six months of life, giving you the flexibility to then purchase a longer term crib.

Price: $1,295 to buy, $148,95 per month to rent.

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2. Baby Breeza Formula mixer

baby brezza

Why we love it: After it was clear that my breastfeeding journey was not going to be what I expected it to be, and we started formula feeding our son at 6 months, we were drowning in bottle parts to clean, bottle parts to use, bottles everywhere. What was more annoying is that I never really figured how to really mix the formula properly. Sometimes it had too much foam, making our son angry. Other times there were clunks of unmixed powder at the bottom, making me worry that he was not getting enough nutrition. The Baby Breeza gets rid of all those issue by perfectly mixing the formula in seconds, making it ready for baby. You can even choose the ounce setting and specify the type of formula you are using so it's properly mixed.

More to know: It's compatible with all baby bottles and formula brands.

Price: $224

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3. Tula Free to Grow carrier

tula carrier

Why we love it: I didn't know about babywearing until our son started getting a bit of a flat head on one of his sides and our pediatrician recommend us that we wear him more instead of pushing him around in a stroller. I was paralyzed because I am so, so, so, so clumsy, the idea of having a tiny baby strapped to my body seemed like a bad one. But the Tula is so easy to use, I was confident from day one. Wearing him became one of my favorite things. Even now with him being a almost 30 pound toddler, wearing him is one of my favorite methods of transportation for him.

More to know: The Free to Grow model is the most adaptable, allowing you to carry a 7 pound to a 45 pound child. They also come in the cutest prints ever.

Price: $159

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4. Nanit Plus baby monitor

nanit baby monitor

Why we love it: I made the mistake of initially purchasing only an audio monitor. It worked for the first few months, but once our kid could roll and move around the crib, we needed to know if his cries meant he was stuck or just having a bad dream. After a ton of research, we went with the Nanit Plus because it's Wifi based so you can keep tabs on your little one even when you are not home, which was key for us since we are both working parents. Nanit also gives you a report on how many hours your child is sleeping, which if you are obsessed with data like I am, it's amazing to have.

More to know: You can mount the camera from your wall and take it with you on trips so you also have an on-the-go monitor.

Price: $285.80

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5. Magic Merlin Sleepsuit

merlin sleepsuit

Why we love it: I mentioned we travel a lot, and also that we used the Snoo. Those two things are not compatible because the Snoo is not the easiest thing to bring with you on a trip. So for when we did go away from home, I discovered the Merlin Magic Sleepsuit that helped him keep sleeping through the night without issues. Bonus: It makes babies look like they are little marshmallows and it's adorable.

More to know: It's for babies from 3-6 months as long as they aren't rolling yet. There are also different type of fabrics to choose from, depending on the season to make sure your little one doesn't overheat.

Price: $39.95

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6. Pockit+ Stroller

pockit stroller

Why we love it: For when you do need a stroller—like for a long trip or a visit to the zoo—the Pockit+ was a game changer for us. We travel a lot, and our regular stroller was just too bulky and heavy to drag around. A fellow traveler parent recommended this one to use and we really put it to the test taking it on several plane rides. In all of them, the stroller fit either in the overhead compartment or under the seat, impressing even the most experienced flight attendants.

More to know: The stroller comes with carseat adaptors if your little one still doesn't have great head control to ride in a regular stroller.

Price: $229.95

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7. Fisher-Price baby dome

fisher price baby dome

Why we love it: We have two dogs that are super curious and for the first couple of weeks it meant that I was holding our baby in my arms all the time to prevent them from sniffing him too much (such a first-time mom thing, now they lick his face all day and he loves it.) It was exhausting and it meant I needed someone around if I wanted to go to the bathroom or grab a glass of water. Our friends gifted us the Fisher-Price baby dome and it changed it all. We used it a ton in our living room for our son to hang and play with age-appropriate toys, away from the dogs. We took it to the park where he snoozed shaded away from the sun thanks to the SPF canopy. We even took it to the pool, where we all chilled and enjoyed the day.

More to know: The whole thing folds in half making it easy to store in small places or even under the couch!

Price: $65

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8. Munchkin Inflatable duck tub

munchkin bath tub

Why we love it: The first time we gave our baby a bath we went for the sink approach. We all hated it. I cried, baby cried, husband did his best at trying to console both of us. We then tried the baby tub with a mesh insert, we still hated it. We decided to move to showers with dad to avoid more family trauma. Eventually I went through the baby shower gifts we received and found this inflatable duck tub and it was like magic—we suddenly all loved bath time again. It's easy to inflate, fits inside regular tubs and leaves enough room for baby to sit or slightly lean back without the enormity of a regular tub.

More to know: The tub comes with a sticker that changes color if water is too hot, giving moms even more peace of mind during baths.

Price: $21.99

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9. Zutano booties

zutano booties

Why we love it: Any experienced mom will tell you these booties are the best thing ever invented. They keep feet safe, come in all the colors you can imagine, and have rubber soles for those starting to learn how to walk. But best of all? They won't ever fall off your child's feet. Honestly, I wish they made them in adult sizes because they look so comfortable and are sooooo soft.

More to know: They are perfect for activities that require grippy socks.

Price: $15.75-$25 depending on size and color.

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10. Avent glass bottles

avent baby bottles

Why we love it: Becoming a mom made me hyper-aware of how much waste children make. Also, how a lot of the baby products are made of plastic. When I realized that my future involved a lot of bottles, I opted to go with glass ones because it seemed like a better option for the environment. Plus, I'm lazy and these can be placed in the dishwasher with the rest of your dishes without worrying about the material getting cloudy or smelly (like it happens with plastic bottles.)

More to know: I was afraid of breaking them at first, but after dropping them multiple times (once on a concrete sidewalk) and the bottles coming out unscratched, I realized they were even better quality than I initially thought.

Price: $35.74

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While most of us are preparing to kick the fall season into high gear, designers at New York Fashion Week are a bit ahead of us. They're showcasing the latest trends for the upcoming seasons and the hairstyles are everything we want and more. No V.I.P pass? No problem, we've got you covered, mama.

Check out the best hair trends we spotted at New York Fashion Week. Plus, how to recreate the looks (because you deserve a little TLC too, mama!).

1. Decorative ponytails at Christian Siriano

There's nothing more fun (and easier!) than rocking ponytails, especially when you're figuring out day five of not washing hair. Models at Christian Siriano upgraded the look with minature crystals scattered throughout the style.


justine marjan on Instagram: “I met @lucyhale tonight and she let me bedazzle her head for #nyfw 🙏🏽😭✨🤩 #justinemarjanhair GET THE LOOK: 1. Prep dry hair with @tresemme…”

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Here's how to create the look at home:

1. Prep dry hair with hairspray, then flat iron until super smooth.

2. Gather back half of hair with more hairspray then brush with a smoothing brush and tie with elastic cord at the base of the neck.

3. Leave out two tendrils around the face then repeat with the rest of the hair.

4. Tie elastic cord around the length of the pony.

5. Use wig glue and tweezers to gently place crystals on the hair.

2. Flowers in messy braids at alice + olivia

When you're busy caring for an infant or shuttling your toddler to play dates, wearing a side braid adorned with miniature pearls and crystals seems like the last thing on your to-do list. But, getting the uber-pretty style is much easier than you think.



Here's how to create the look at home:

1. First smooth out the hair with a hairdryer, then separate hair into two even sections with a clean center part, traveling all the way from the top of your head to the bottom.

2. Loosely reverse french braid either side, keeping the hair near the hairline and above the ear.

3. After securing each braid, adorn them with self-adhesive flowers or pearls in random spots throughout the braid.

3. Middle parts at 3.1 Phillip Lim

Middle parts are a subtle, yet cool and modern look that play up this season's polished look.

Aveda Corporation


Here's how to create the look at home:

1. Create a perfect center part and then dampen hair with water to prep for styling.

2. Apply small amounts of styling foam and began drying down sections of hair on either side of the part to ensure the hair stayed flat against the head and behind the ears.

3. Saturate the mids-to-ends of the hair with a style prep and then dry those pieces with a diffuser to hold the style in place.

4. Finish with hairspray to lock in look.

4. Full swept bangs at Veronica Beard

This season, it's all about the 60's vibes, with tons of volume at the top of your head that falls into a perfectly undone style. Put simply: A deep side part and full swept bang is easy for mamas on-the go. "The [swept bang style] is meant to embrace each woman's natural texture—straight, wavy or curly," says Kevin Hughes, Moroccanoil Artistic Director.


Here's how to create the look at home:

1. Create a deep side part and a sweeping bang in front of the face adding volume throughout the hair.

2. Then create broken S waves throughout hair using a flat iron.

3. Only at the back of the root use a crimping iron to create lift and volume at the crown.

4. Smooth hair over the bouffant for a seamless finish.

5. Finish with hairspray.

5. Scarf twists at Kate Spade

If there's one thing we can relate to, it's the theme of the Kate Spade show—women going to the flower market on a weekend morning. If you're into playful, carefree hair, you'll love the rope braid buns and colorful scarves. It's perfect for mamas looking to add a hint of pizzazz.



Here's how to create the look at home:

1. Apply a thickening spray to prep hair.

2. Part hair in center.

3. Blow dry the front pieces away from your face. Pull hair back into a low ponytail and secure.

4. Twist hair into a rope braid with a wide-tooth comb.

5. Wrap braid into a twisted bun. Tie a scarf around the bun, securing at the bottom.

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Life

The internet moves so fast it can seem like you're missing out on all the good news and only seeing the bad, but here at Motherly we know that there is so much good in the world and even on the internet.

In an age when outrage and anger dominate online spaces, we fill this space with uplifting news each week. We recognize that life is hard right now. Mamas have a lot to worry about. This week's viral headlines included the fact that giving birth costs a ton (which of course isn't news to anyone who has given birth recently) and a pregnant star's boyfriend publicly taking a stand against epidurals (good thing he's not the one giving birth). Stories like those are important but can be, frankly, exhausting.

So here are the stories that made us smile this week to perk you up, mama:

This viral video of toddler besties hugging will melt your heart

Social media users are going crazy over this adorable video of two toddler boys hugging in the street...and we can't say we blame them. As parents, we're constantly trying to capture the cutest moments from our kids' day-to-day lives—and one New York dad recently struck gold when he managed to snag a video of his son and his "bestie" running into each other's arms.

The dad, Michael Cisneros, took a video of his son, Maxwell, spotting his best friend on a New York street. The scene is absolutely precious: Maxwell and his friend, Finnegan, are so obviously overjoyed to see one another. They run straight towards each other and hug, and our hearts completely melt every single time we watch it unfold.

We aren't the only ones who can't get enough of this adorable video—Cisneros posted the clip on his Facebook and it is (unsurprisingly) going viral.

"This is just so beautiful. Finnegan + Maxwell= BESTIES!!! If we could all be like this," Cisneros writes alongside the photo.

According to Cisneros, the boys have been friends for about a year. "When they are away from each other, they are always asking about one another," he tells ABC News. "They go to music class together...and they love to dance—both are excellent dancers."

Social media users can't get enough of these sweet toddlers and their friendship. "This just made my year," one social media user comments. "Bless your beautiful little guy and his equally beautifully bestie! I watched this several times in a row. Thanks for sharing all that joy! ❤️" another adds.

We couldn't love this more! In addition to just being really, really cute, this clip teaches us how important these special friendships are, and how you're never too young to make these bonds. Kudos to this dad for recognizing these special moments, and props to these sweet toddlers for spreading so much love.

Viral birth story: This teacher gave birth at school + her colleagues helped 

Mom and teacher Lindsay Agbalokwu was due to give birth to her second child on September 17, so when she walked into work weeks before that date she thought it would be like any other day. She could not have imagined she would end up giving birth on school grounds, with her colleagues (including one of her close friends) by her side.

But early in the morning, she found herself in pain and the school's vice principal went to enlist her friend and fellow teacher, Marissa Kast, to come and help her. When Kast found her friend, she knew it was clear things were progressing. She didn't yet know that her friend's baby would be born very shortly, on school grounds.

"I told our vice principal 'I'm taking her to the hospital'...So I got my car, I had to pull it around to the other side of the building where Lindsay was," Kast tells Motherly.

By the time Kast moved her car she could see the school's principal, Natalie Lewis, and dean of students, Chris Earls were helping Agbalokwu out of the school. The pregnant teacher "was barely standing on her own and then she was in labor," Kast explains. As the principal dialed 911, Agbalokwu's water broke.

Kast happened to have a sleeping bag in her car, so she placed it on the sidewalk and had the expectant mother lay down while an emergency dispatcher gave the educators instructions to assist with the delivery.

"[I thought] please let them get here in time. Like, I do not want to deliver a baby," Kast says. "This was not on my agenda for today. And so we lay her down, we kind of got her settled and then I heard sirens and I was like, 'I hear sirens, just hold on like you can do this'...She had Chris on one side, Natalie on the other and she clutching their hands, pretty much breaking them."

Soon a fire truck was there and firefighters were delivering little baby Zara into the world. Kast says she's forever grateful to those firefighters who showed up and helped her friend in the nick of time.

"We got her ready, we were there helping her, like coaching her, but they are the two that delivered this baby," she says.

Kast knew Agbalokwu's husband would be sad to have missed the birth of the couple's second child, so she channeled her inner birth photographer and snapped a couple of photos of mama and baby before calling Agbalokwu's husband and instructing him to meet them at the hospital.

Once her friend was safely at the hospital, Kast returned to the school to teach seventh grade before heading back to the hospital in the evening to have pizza with Zara's parents.

We imagine Agbalokwu never expected for her school's fellow teacher, principal and dean to step in and help her while she was in labor, but hey—they did what needed to be done. And we couldn't be more impressed by how it all unfolded.

The Agbalokwus are now resting up at home with Zara's big brother Zeke, and Kast still cannot believe that her friend had a baby so quickly, at school, on the sleeping bag she just happened to have in her car.

This father's advice to partners of breastfeeding mamas is #dadgoals

Muhammed Nitoto is the dad behind the popular Instagram account @ChroniclesofDaddy and this week he is going viral for the sweetest list of ways partners can help breastfeeding moms.

Nitoto wanted to "drop some knowledge on his fellow dads and soon-to-be dads" so he made a list of what fathers should be aware of when it comes to breastfeeding and he agreed to let Motherly share his list .

Here are his top 5 tips for new dads:

"1. For night feedings. When mom wakes up in the middle of the night. You get up and ask if she needs any help or water. The truth is most of the time she will say no but just the fact that you offered will go far.

"2. Ask mom if she can pump and then pick 1 feeding that you will always do. Mom will take on almost everything and will burn herself out if you let her. At times you may have to force her to rest without worrying about the baby. This is an easy way to do that without a fight.

"3. Don't put a time limit on how long mom breastfeed the baby. It's not just about feeding your child it's about them bonding as well. I know everyone has a diffrent length of time they will breastfeed and as a Dad it's hard to fully understand. Do not I repeat DO NOT try and rush this process it's not our place and it's not safe. You will open yourself up to a fight you can't win.

"4. Be patient. I know as a Dad the first few weeks we are equally excited and yet not as important yet. Your time will come faster than you know. Babies grow fast and the stronger bigger they get the more Daddy Time will be coming your way.

"5. Paternity leave! If you have it TAKE IT. The early stages of a childs life are not just for moms to enjoy. I know as men making the money especially after having a baby but trust me. You can always make money but there are no instant replays in life. It doesn't make you more of a man to not take the leave. It's equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child. "

Thanks for the advice, Nitoto! Share this with a dad who you know wants to help!

This mom's viral tweet proves why working #momguilt is so unnecessary

Now she's a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who teaches journalism at Kent State University, but back in 1989, Connie Schultz was a working mom who, like many of us, was wracked with mom guilt.

That year, Schultz snapped a photo of her toddler daughter, Cait, imitating her while she was on the phone doing an interview. This week, she tweeted that photo alongside another, more recent picture of Cait, taken in 2016 as testified before a state committee about the need for paid parental leave while wearing her own baby.

"In '89, I'm doing phone interview & see toddler Cait imitating me. 1st thought: Oh, no. 2nd thought: Oh, wow. In '16, Cait wears 3-mo-old Milo as she testifies before RI leg committee on need for paid sick leave for all families. My working-mom guilt was a such a waste of time," Schultz captioned the two side-by-side images.

It's true. Schultz should not feel guilty, and neither should any working mother.

Research shows us that daughters of working mothers earn 23% more than daughters of mothers who never worked for pay outside the home and that sons of working mothers grow up to do twice as much unpaid work around the house.

Of course, not all moms want to work, and it is absolutely possible to have awesome outcomes like these even if you don't, but a lot of moms do want to do paid work. Motherly's second annual State of Motherhood survey found a "desire to participate in work outside the household" is a common feeling for millennial moms.

When our kids pretend to send emails or take work calls we should not be wracked with guilt, we should be filled with pride because they are watching be the people we want to be and know that they can do it too.

[A version of this post was published September 10, 2019. It has been updated.]

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News

Neil Patrick Harris is an excellent communicator. He's an amazing actor and just released his third young adult novel, The Magic Misfits: The Minor Third. But now that Neil's twins, 8-year-olds Harper and Gideon, are in third grade Neil and his husband, chef David Burtka, are having to get more intentional about the way they communicate with their kids.

Specifically, they're going beyond asking, "How was your day?" because Neil (like many parents) knows that asking the question this way typically leads to one-word answers.

"It takes a minute to remember that yes or no questions, at least to 8 and 9-year-olds, doesn't really encourage them to embellish very much," Neil told Motherly while promoting his partnership with Quaker Chewy to help drive donations to Adopt a Classroom, a non-profit that helps get school supplies into classrooms.

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Harris is passionate about getting teachers and kids the school supplies they need, and he's also passionate about finding out what his kids get up to in their classrooms. According to Harris, the key to getting kids to open up is taking this question further and giving kids a direction to take the conversation in.

"I try to ask them questions as if it is some kind of game. 'Tell me three things that happened today at school—one that was funny, one that was exciting and one that was a little bit scary,'" he explains.

The father of two says this helps the kids take on the challenge of opening up and having a conversation, rather than just serving up rote replies. That's why Harris tries not to ask things like, "What did you learn today?" or, "How was school?" (but like all of us, he sometimes slips up).

"Because unless they really want to share a specific thing, there's so many options on how to answer those kinds of questions. I ask them myself, but I catch myself. You're gonna have to be a little more bespoke in your questioning to get the answers you want."

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News
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