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The Holiday Roadtrip: The Car is the Best Place for Dreaming

We drive it all in one day. Twelve hours west through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois around Chicago, and north, into Wisconsin. The 12 hours includes four stops (or more) with our girls, ages two and five. Our mantra is “keep moving,” but we know we’ll stop to refuel, and unexpectedly, when someone has to go, or already did. In Madison, we rest a night, and then we hop in the car for the final stretch to Minnesota.


The shorter drive is more difficult. You wish it were two hours. But it’s over four. That’s longer than a kids’ movie + books + drawing + music. You’re extremely tired of sitting with things piled at your feet. In the end, it takes over 16 hours of travel to reach our Christmas away. I used to dream of doing the drive without my kids, but now, I can’t imagine road tripping without them – because it’s actually fun.

Last year, the journey worked better than I had hoped. When we returned, my five-year-old seemed miffed. “Actually, I didn’t want to come home,” she said, which is the sign of a good trip.

To road trip (epically) in this manner is to do what is uncomfortable with your children. It is to entertain disaster on a small scale at a terrifying rate. It is to test the limit of how long you can share a very tiny space.

There’s always a moment at the beginning of the trip when I think, this is torture. I want to scream, “We won’t make it!” Because it’s 6 a.m., and my two-year-old has eaten four bowls of Cheerios and washed it down with half a bottle of water. What could possibly go wrong?

One hour into the drive, the five-year-old has already asked for her candy six times. Pencils are dumped, stickers are fought over, the stylus to the tablet is lost, the kids’ choice of music is horrible, and no one wants to listen to “Stuart Little.”

And yet, despite horrors, we reach our destination. To travel into this unknown is to discover that the disasters certainly will and do happen, and they are handled – deftly, messily, best you can in a moving vehicle – and the car rolls on. You all move on.

Last year, aside from requests to sit in mommy’s lap, now, and continuous pleas for more candy, there were no tears. Our older child has grown into the routine, aided by an endless appetite for iPad games (and perhaps the unfettered access given in a car). This was the first trip she was not terrified by every single automatic toilet, or thrown into fits by the rest stop toys that we never purchase. They’re finally old hat.

My younger daughter colors, sings, and plays as well as she can. She may still conk out for an hour or two, during which we relish small periods of near silence. Last holiday, there was enough silence that my husband and I needed something to do, so we listened to the first Harry Potter book I’d checked out for the girls, and my daughter looked up from her game – briefly – to ask about Hermione.

While hanging out with some friends over the holiday, one parent remarked that they’d never spent more than four hours in a car with their child, and even then they nearly missed the wedding they’d set out to attend. I felt a small rush of pride because we’ve done the holiday road trip for four years running. 

The road trip is one way in which I feel that I am giving my children a gift from my own childhood. When so many other things are different about how we raise them, the road trip is tradition. My strongest, oldest memories are of car trips, and it’s the same for my husband. We decided it has something to do with the time and boredom involved; a car is the best place for dreaming.

The sensory weirdness of moving through entire states in one day can be invigorating. And going somewhere, new or old, creates anticipation and excitement. When we leave the house in the dark, I always think about the McDonald’s drive-through where my parents started every trip, and of hot coffee in the cold, dark morning.

Traveling slowly is one way we relish our holiday and seal its memory, by seeking our home away from home, by looking forward to the holiday, and taking time to get there. Someday, I think my kids will agree. 

If you’re considering an epic trip, here’s what we do to minimize the torture:

  • Leave early, when the kids are barely aware they’re awake. If they don’t fall back asleep, they usually nap by mid-afternoon. It gives us time to take breaks later in the drive.
  • Eat in the car. It seems like the kids spend half of every hour snacking. Good snacks are a must.
  • Stop if people need to walk or move. A 10-15 minute stop makes everyone feel better.
  • One person drives while the other interfaces with the back seat. This has resulted in missed exits, but oh well.
  • The children have access to iPad games and/or videos. We control the treats. For young children, sometimes sticker books are more engaging than videos.
  • The car is a mess. We try to stick to dry foods and water, but some adult always spills the coffee. Warning: Do not give your child milk in the car, ever.
  • Encourage a lot of speculative dreaming about what’s next down the road, and what we’re excited to do when we “get there.”
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They say there's no use in crying over it, but for pumping mamas, spilled milk is a major upset.

When you're working so hard to make sure your baby has breast milk, you don't want to lose a drop, and Chrissy Teigen knows this all too well.

The mom of two posted a video to social media Wednesday showing her efforts to rescue breastmilk from a tabletop. She used various utensils and a syringe to try to get the milk back in the bottle.

"I spilled my breastmilk and this is how important it is in this house," she says while suctioning up milk with what appears to be a baster.

In a follow-up video Teigen continues to try to rescue the spilled milk.

"We're trying," she says as she suctions up a drop or two. "I got some."

Teigen is currently breastfeeding baby Miles, her son with husband John Legend, and has been very public about the fact that she pumps a lot as a working mom.

She's also been open about the fact that milk supply has always been an issue for her, not just with Miles but with Luna, too.

"I actually loved [pumping] because I'm a collector of things, and so when I found out I could pump I [did it] so much because I knew the more you pumped, the more milk you'd make," she told POPSUGAR back in March. "So I loved collecting my breast milk and seeing how much I could get, even if it was very, very little."

Like a lot of moms, Teigen did struggle emotionally when a pump session wouldn't get her the ounces she wanted.

"I wasn't producing a lot of milk, and it was frustrating. When you're frustrated, [it can also make you] not produce that much."

Research backs her up. Stress has been linked to lower milk production. Because of that, she's trying to stay positive this time around, but captioned her video post "EVERY DROP COUNTS IN THIS HOUSE" because, well, they do.


So many mothers can relate. Have you ever tried to save your breastmilk?

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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.

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What is it about networking that's just kind of...awful? Typically inconvenient and often awkward, formal networking events rarely yield the results most women (and especially mamas) are looking for.

Whether you're reentering the workforce post-baby leave or simply looking to make a complicated career switch as a busy mom (or just struggling to juggle play dates and professional meetings), making the right connections is often a hurdle that's difficult to surmount. And more and more often, networking comes up short in providing what moms really need.

When time is truly at a premium—a session swapping business cards can be hard to prioritize. Shapr wants to change all that.

Designed with busy people in mind, Shapr is an app with an algorithm that uses tagged interests, location, and professional experience to match you with 10-15 inspiring professional connections a day. You swipe to indicate interest in networking with any of them, and if the interest is mutual, you're connected. (But don't worry, that's where the similarities to that dating app end.)

It makes it easier to connect with the right people.

From there, you can chat, video conference, and even meet in person with potential mentors, partners, and investors while growing your real-life network. No more wasting hours trying to pick someone's brain only to discover they don't have the right experience you need. And no more awkward, stilted small talk—even suggests a few preset icebreakers to help get the conversation rolling more quickly.

The best part? You could do virtually all your connecting from your couch post-bedtime.

It simplifies switching careers or industries.

Sysamone Phaphone is a real mom who was fed up with traditional networking options. When she quit her full-time job in healthcare to pursue founding a startup, she quickly realized that in-person networking events weren't only failing to connect her to the right people, they were also difficult for a single mom of two to even attend. "I was complaining to a friend that I was so tired and didn't know how I was going to keep doing it this way when she recommended the Shapr app," Phaphone says. "I tried it right there at dinner and started swiping. [Later], in my pajamas, I got my first connection."

From there, Phaphone was hooked. Her network suddenly exploded with developers, potential partners she could work with, and even people to hire for the roles she needed. She was also able to connect with and empower other women in tech. Now, checking in with Shapr connections is just part of her routine. "I look for connections after drop-off at school and on my commute into the city," she says. "Then after bedtime is done, I go on to check if there is anyone I've connected with."

It helps you find a mentor—no matter where they live.

Another common roadblock Shapr removes? Location. While you probably wouldn't fly to LA from New York for a networking event, the Shapr app lets you connect and chat with the person who best meets your needs—regardless of where they're based. Even better for parents, the "mom penalty" many women contend with when trying to get back into the workforce doesn't exist on Shapr—if you have the right experience, the connections will still come.

To connect, simply create your account, enter up to ten hashtags you want to follow (either industry related like #film or #tech or by person you're seeking, such as #developer or #uxui), preset what you're looking for (investors, collaborators, etc.), and indicate how you prefer to meet. To connect with more people at once, Shapr also has community groups within the app around interest topics that you can join. And even though the connection begins in the digital space, it often results in the in-person experiences mamas crave.

"I wish I could encourage more moms and dads to use it because it has been a lifesaver for me," Phaphone says. "It empowered my career and career choices, and it provides so much convenience. I can put my kids to bed and not go to an event, but still meet 20 people in a night."

For women looking to grow their business, position, or simply achieve a little self-growth, Shapr is changing the way we connect. This powerful new app could change everything, mama. Download it today to get started.

While we can't possibly protect our children from all of the hardships and challenges life brings, we can help them cope with these difficulties. We can help build their resilience starting at a very young age.

In its simplest form, resilience is the ability to bounce back. It is something we hope and strive to instill in our children—but at the same time, it can seem like an elusive and vague term.

According to educational research, resilience impacts social skills, a child's desire to try academically, autonomy, problem-solving skills, awareness of and reactions to injustice, and a person's sense of purpose. That's a pretty big impact.

The same research found that resilience is fostered by loving relationships, high expectations, and the chance to participate and contribute in a meaningful way. The good news is that these are all things you can work on at home—but how exactly?

Here are nine phrases Montessori teachers frequently use to help children develop this valuable quality.

1. “That was hard, but you did it!”

Directly acknowledging a child's efforts helps bring their awareness to the fact that they can do things, even when they're hard.

Whether it's swimming across the whole swimming pool, reading a book for the first time, or putting their shirt on all by themself, help your child pause and reflect on how they overcame the struggle and accomplished the goal, even if it wasn't easy.

Each time you do this, it solidifies their view as someone who can overcome obstacles and do hard things.

2. “I want you to try, but I’m right here if you get stuck.”

Your reaction to your child's struggles helps establish their identity and the way they see themselves. If you rush in too quickly to rescue them, it sends the message that you think they're not capable.

On the flip side, if they become too overwhelmed by a challenge and feel alone in the struggle, they may not want to try again in the future.

Make it clear that you expect them to try, and you think they can do it, but that if they're really stuck, you're right there to help. With this reassurance, they will be more able to focus on the task at hand and do their best work. If your little does wind up needing help, offer the least assistance possible to help them be successful.

For example, if they're trying to write their name and getting upset because it's too hard, help them remember which letter comes next instead of taking over and writing it for them.

3. “Who could you ask for help?”

Ask open-ended questions to help your child develop problem-solving skills. Each time they find a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem on their own, they will gain greater confidence in their ability to overcome challenges.

If your child loses their teddy bear, ask where they could look before you find it for them. If their pencil breaks, ask what they could do to solve the problem instead of handing over a new one right away.

The more confidence they have in their own ability to solve problems, the more likely they are to keep their cool and recover quickly when something distressing happens.

4. “Do you remember when tying your shoes was so hard?”

Children learn new skills literally every day, but it's so easy for them to forget how far they've come. Help your child feel a sense of mastery by reminding them of all of the skills they have already figured out.

For instance, if you see them swinging happily on the swing set, remind them that just last year they were so frustrated because they didn't know how to pump their legs by themselves. Bringing attention to the progress your child has made emphasizes that their own efforts play a huge role in overcoming obstacles.

5. “I need your help.”

No matter how young your little is, find ways for them to help you, to contribute in a meaningful way. Whether it's folding laundry, cooking dinner, or putting together a new bookshelf, telling your child that you need their help sends the message that they are a valuable, capable member of the family.

This type of view of one's self goes a long way when real challenges emerge.

Showing your child that you have confidence in their ability to contribute builds confidence. Telling them you need their help is also an excellent way to model that it's okay to ask for help when you need it.

6. “Which part can I help with?”

If you see your child really struggling, ask how you can help. This gives the child such a different feeling than when an adult rushes in and rescues them, solving the problem for them.

Offering to help, and specifically letting the child decide how you can help, is a collaborative process. It lets them know that they are not in it alone, that it's okay to need help, and that even really big problems have solutions.

Showing your child that help is available when they need it will help them not freak out when problems arise.

7. “You look really upset, would you like help talking to your friend?”

Social situations offer many opportunities to practice resilience. Whether their best friend said something mean or they feel left out of a game, you can help your child process their feelings and see that there are options other than wallowing in sadness.

You don't need to solve the question of "who had it first," or elicit any apologies, just help your child tell their friend how they feel. Help to ask for what they need, whether it's a hug, a chance to play together later, or simply to express their emotions.

This type of help gives your child the tools they need to face and recover from tough social situations.

8. “That was hard for me, but I did it. I feel proud of myself.”

To children, it can seem like everything is so easy for us since so many of our struggles are silent, or happen when our children are sleeping or at school.

Try to share some of the (non-scary) challenges you face with your child and let them know what you did to adapt to the tough situation or cope with disappointment.

Try something like, "My friend had to cancel lunch today and I was so disappointed. It made me kind of sad but I'm going to see if she can have dinner with us instead."

Show that everyone, even mom and dad, faces setbacks and that there are things you can do about it to make the situation better.

9. “Do you need to take a break?”

If you watch your child carefully, you can often see when they're about to pass the limit of what they can handle. Step in and ask if they need a break.

Help fill their toolbox with things they can do when they feel overwhelmed. You might ask if they would like a drink of water, suggest they do 10 jumping jacks with you, take five deep breaths, or even go for a short walk outside.

Show your child that there are tools they can use to reset, apart from giving up or having a complete meltdown.

Resilience takes time, and so much patience, to build, but it is a quality that will serve your child well for their entire life.

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