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This is Why I Hate Going to the Beach With My Kids

All right, kids! Here we are at the beach! Who’s excit… no, four-year-old. This is not the beach. This is a parking lot next to the beach. The beach is just a short walk away. Please stop crying. We have not driven 45 minutes to hang out in a hot parking lot…I promise.

Okay! Let daddy and me just pile up our IKEA bag full of towels and toys, our cooler of snacks and drinks, this huge sun-shelter, the over-sized shovel, net, and water-squirter trifecta, and the nine-month-old in a very warm Ergo carrier and make our way to the water with only six-eight stops to beg the four-year-old to get out of the way of other people, admire interesting rocks he’s found, and pick up the over-sized shovel, net and water-squirter that fall out of the IKEA bag with every other step.

Here it is! The glittering ocean and the warm, sandy beach. We are finally here and…

Yes, stranger lady, I have put sunblock on my incredibly fair children. Thank you for asking/suggesting that I am a negligent mother. Yes, my son should be wearing a hat. I’d like to see you try to make that happen. 

Okay, let’s find a good spot to set this stuff dow…

What’s that, four-year-old, you want your sandals off? Are you sure? The sand is very hot. Okay. Let me just put the overstuffed IKEA bag down and bend over while wearing a 20-pound baby on my chest to get those off for you.

Now let’s find a good spo…oh, is the sand too hot and you want your sandals back on? Let me just put the overstuffed IKEA bag down and bend over while wearing a 20-pound baby on my chest to get those on for you.

You know what? This spot five feet from the boardwalk seems perfect.

Time to get that sun-shelter up and put sunblock on the kiddies. No, four-year-old, don’t fight against the sunblock application and go shooting like a greased pig into your father who is struggling to put up the sun-shelter. No, nine-month-old, don’t repeat the same move as your big brother. Husband, forget the sun-shelter! Can’t you see this is war?

Let’s just go down to the water, okay?

Four-year-old, you want your floaties on? Sure!

Four-year-old, you want your goggles on? Sure!

Now, how about a quick dip in the…

Four-year-old, you want your floaties off? Sure!

Four-year-old, you want your goggles off? Sure!

Yes, four-year-old, you have run very deep into the water. Yes, it is up to your neck. No, I’m not panicking. I am just talking in a high-pitched, loud voice and asking you to please not go any further. Why? Because you can’t swim. Why? Because you won’t let us teach you to swim. Why? Only you know the answer to that. Some combo of actual fear and detecting my own completely irrational fear of the ocean would be my guess?

Yes, nine-month old, sand is very fun.

No, nine-month-old, you shouldn’t eat sand.

Yes, nine-month-old, shells are very fun.

No, nine-month-old, you shouldn’t eat shells.

Yes, nine-month-old, the water is very fun.

No, nine-month-old, you cannot crawl face first into the water and live amongst the crustaceans. Please stop screaming and struggling as I hold you back from crawling face first into the water to live amongst the crustaceans. Wow, you are strong.

Hey, let’s go back to eating sand. That was a good idea.

Sure husband, go get something from the car and ditch me with the baby at the edge of the water and our four-year-old wading, exposing me to the mercy of the following: tides, waves, sharks, things I imagine to be sharks but turn out to the seaweed, and/or that sunblock lady shaking her head at my negligence. Please leave me poised to live out my worst case scenario nightmare where the four-year-old is in peril and I can’t get to him because I am tending to the baby who can and will crawl face first into the surf. Go get that thing from the car. That sounds great.

Four-year-old, you’re freezing. Your lips are blue, your teeth are chattering, and you’re trembling all over. Come warm up on the sand.

No, don’t start wailing that you don’t want to warm up.

No, don’t keep wailing.

No, don’t fall down on your face into the sand wailing.

Please stand up.

Please stand up.

Please stand up.

The sunblock lady is looking at me again.

No, nine-month-old, please don’t start crying out of empathy for your brother.

Could I interest you both in eating some sand?

Sure, husband I would love for you to take the children so I can jump into the water for a second.

Goddamn this water is cold. But it’s okay. This is “me” time. I am alone in nature, communing, meditating, retreating into a quiet space and recharging…eeeeeahhhhhhh!!!!!! No, four-year-old, I didn’t like being shot in the face with the water-squirter from hell. How could you tell?

No mommy isn’t crying. I just have salt water in my eyes.

Well, the baby is hot and wailing, the boy is freezing cold and blue, and the husband is turning that parental frustration color of purple that suggests our time at the beach is nearing its end.

Let’s just take a moment to neatly pick up the towels, toys, drinks…fuck it! Husband, toss everything into the sun-shelter and throw it over your shoulder like a defeated, purple-faced summer Santa and flee with me to the parking lot.

Sure, four-year-old, I can carry you and the 20-pound nine-month-old all the way to the car. After all, who needs a spine?

The parking lot is hot! Quick, open the car! No time to change the baby out of her swim diaper! Just let her pee in her seat! I’ll buy a new one! Throw the sun-shelter in the back! Strap the kids in! Blast the AC!

Woof. It’s all over. How long were we there? Oh, a whole 20 minutes. New record.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Rachel McAdams didn't talk publicly about her pregnancy or her birth story. There are some things this working mama wants to keep to herself, but the fact that she needs to pump at work isn't one of them.

McAdams was recently doing a photo shoot with photographer Claire Rothstein of Girls Girls Girls magazine when she needed to take a pump break. Wearing Versace and a neck full of diamonds McAdmans did what mamas all over the world do every day, and Rothstein snapped a pic that is now going viral.

In an Instagram post, Rothstein explains that she and McAdams had a "mutual appreciation disagreement about who's idea it was to take this picture," but the photographer says she remembers it being McAdams' idea, "which makes me love her even more."

In her caption of the amazing photograph, Rothstein writes: "Breastfeeding is the most normal thing in the world and I can't for the life of me imagine why or how it is ever frowned upon or scared of."

The photographer added that she wanted to put the image out there to change perceptions about breastfeeding, pumping, and working motherhood.

McAdams decision to normalize pumping through this glamorous image is especially cool when you consider that she's not really a social media person, and spends a lot of days in much less glam attire.

She recently arrived for her first interview since welcoming her son in the spring wearing a grey shirt, baggy pants and sneakers, reportedly telling the interviewer (Helena de Bertodano for The Sunday Times U.K.), "I don't even know what I'm wearing today. The shoes are held together with glue. Isn't that sad? I need to get a life."

"I have clothes on and that's a good thing," McAdams told Bertodano during that chat. Her attire for that newspaper interview was a world away from the clothes she wore for the Girls Girls Girls shoot.

During her Sunday Times interview McAdams declined to discuss her son's name or birthdate.

"I want to keep his life private, even if mine isn't," she explained. "But I'm having more fun being a mum than I've ever had. Everything about it is interesting and exciting and inspiring to me. Even the tough days — there's something delightful about them."

Most of us will never look the way McAdams does in this photo while we're pumping, but we can totally understand that sometimes, motherhood means you're wearing sweats and sometimes it means you're pumping in your work clothes (even if for most of us, that doesn't mean Versace).

McAdams may be keeping some parts of her motherhood experience private, but by showing the world this part of her day, she's normalizing something that desperately needs normalizing.

Some mamas pump, and the world needs to know (and accommodate) that.

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To my children,

It's the New Year, and I have been doing a lot of thinking. I want to say, with all of my heart and all of my soul, that I am sorry. I want apologize for anything (and everything) I have said or done that made you feel less-than or sad or small.

I regret, so deeply, the hurt I delivered through harsh words or sideways glances, for steely eyes you didn't deserve and sarcastic replies you didn't understand. I'm sorry for being upset when I should have been more understanding, for resorting to frustration when I should have found more patience, for pulling away when I should have drawn near.

There were the times when you needed more from me, when you asked for more, and I simply couldn't provide. There were the moments when you wanted less of me, needed less from me, and I couldn't—or perhaps I just wouldn't—back away.

I start every day with a hope, a hope that I will be better than the day before.

Sometimes I succeed, but many times, I fail. Every so often, I fail in spectacular fashion. I think about all the times when I wasn't gentle enough or kind enough or attentive enough to you, about all the moments when I was too quick to anger and not quick enough to forgive.

You don't need me to tell you that I'm not perfect. Lord knows, you know far too well.

But I will say it to you, because I think it helps to hear me say it: I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am human. I have flaws and cracks and blemishes; they are a part of me, just as they are a part of you.

Sometimes, my dear ones, my mistakes are small—like forgetting to pack your lunch or mixing up the dates for Tot Shabbat, or picking you up an hour late from a play date or accidentally switching your piano primer with your brother's, or sending a snack I know you dislike because I didn't have time to go grocery shopping and have no other food in the refrigerator. But sometimes, they aren't so minor.

Sometimes, my mistakes have to do with the way I've behaved, and the words I have said, and the way I have said them. For those times, and for all the times I failed to support you the way I should, or help you in the way you deserve, and love you in the best way I can, I am sorry.

I wish I didn't make so many mistakes. I'm a perfectionist at heart, but when it comes to parenting, there's still so much I haven't mastered. Even after almost a decade of doing this day in and day out, I still feel like a novice in so many regards and as green as I did on day one.

Precious ones, I've come to realize, no matter how hard I try, that I just can't get it right all of the time. I hope you can forgive my failings.

The older I get, the more I realize that life is a jumble of hits and misses. As many times as we try and succeed, we also try and fail. As much as we hope to do right, we often end up doing wrong. It is the story of the human condition—this mix of losses and gains, triumphs and defeats. It's all very messy (think sloppy joes and pancakes dripping with syrup kind of messy), and yet, it's all we know.

My darling ones, I want nothing more than to do right by you and be the best mother I can be for you. I want to love you unconditionally, support you unreservedly, and be present unambiguously.

In the New Year, I resolve to do better for you, to be better with you, and to act as if God is watching. You mean the world to me. You are everything to me. I love you, always and forever.

All my love,


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People often say that having a second child doesn't much add to the workload of parenting. There's no steep learning curve: You already know how to make a bottle, install a car seat and when to call the pediatrician. And you're already doing laundry, making lunches and supervising bath time—so throwing a second kid in the tub isn't a big deal.

Except that it is. Having a second child doesn't just mean attaching a second seat to your stroller. Adding a whole new person to your family is more complicated than that, and it's okay to say that it is hard.

A new study out of Australia disputes the popular idea that after making the transition from people to parents, making the jump from one child to two is easy. The researchers found that having a second child puts a lot of pressure on parents' time and their mental health, and mothers bear the brunt of the burden.

When looking at heterosexual couples, the researchers found that before a first child is born both partners feel equal amounts of "time pressure," but once the child is born, that pressure grows, more so for mothers than fathers.

Basically, parents feel psychological stress when they feel they don't have enough time to do all they need to. One baby makes both parents feel more stress, but mom's increase is more than dad's. When a second baby comes, that time pressure doubles for both parents, and since mom already had more than dad, there's now a gulf between them.

The researchers behind this study—Leah Ruppanner, Francisco Perales and Janeen Baxter—say that after a first child is born, a mother's mental health improves, but after a second child, it declines.

Writing for The Conversation, the trio explains:

"Second children intensify mothers' feelings of time pressure. We showed that if mothers did not have such intense time pressures following second children, their mental health would actually improve with motherhood. Fathers get a mental health boost with their first child, but also see their mental health decline with the second child. But, unlike mothers, fathers' mental health plateaus over time. Clearly, fathers aren't facing the same chronic time pressure as mothers over the long-term."

The researchers say that even when mothers reduce their work time, the time pressure is still there and that "mothers cannot shoulder the time demands of children alone."

Adding a second child to the family isn't just a matter of throwing a few more socks in the laundry: It means a schedule that is already stretched is now filling up with twice as many appointments, twice as many school functions. Mothers only have 24 hours in the day, and as much as we wish we could add a couple extra hours per child, we can't.

Time simply can't change to help us, but society can. As the researchers noted, when time pressure is removed, motherhood actually improves mental health.

We love our lives, we love our kids, we love parenting, but there is only so much of our day to go around.

Ruppanner, Perales and Baxter suggest that if society were to help mothers out more, our mental health (and therefore our children's wellbeing as well) would improve even after two or three kids. "Collectivising childcare – for example, through school buses, lunch programs and flexible work policies that allow fathers' involvement – may help improve maternal mental health," the researchers explain, adding that "it is in the national interest to reduce stressors so that mothers, children and families can thrive."

Whether you're talking about Australia or America, that last bit is so true, but this research proves that the myth about second-time parenthood isn't. Even if you already have the skills and the hand-me-downs, having a second child isn't as easy as it is sometimes made out to be.

We can love our children and our lives and still admit when things aren't easy.

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We know life gets a little (okay, a lot) busy around this time of year so if you haven't crossed off everyone on your Christmas list just yet, here's your reminder that you've still got time. Fortunately, that Amazon Prime membership of yours comes in handy... especially for the holidays.

Here are some of the best last-minute gifts to get on Amazon. Also, that extra couple of dollars for gift wrapping is *so* worth it if it's available. 😉

1. Tape Activity Book

So your little can create just about anywhere—on the go, in the car or hanging out at home.

Melissa & Doug Tape Activity Book, $6.47


2. Instant Pot

Mama, meet your new best friend. 4.5 stars with nearly 30K reviews.

Instant Pot 8-qt, $89.95


3. Silicone Teething Mitt

Offer relief to your teething one with a mitt that stays in place.

Itzy Ritzy Silicone Teething Mitt, $8.99


4. Roomba

Give the gift of never having to manually vacuum again.

iRobot Roomba 690, $279.00


5. Magnetic Tiles

These are always a favorite for kids of all ages. Build endless possibilities and work on fine motor skills—win-win!

Magnetic Tiles Building Blocks Set, $31.99


6. DryBar Triple Sec

Perfect addition to mama's stocking, or paired with a salon or blowout gift card. Adds *so* much texture and volume.

DryBar Triple Sec 3-in-1, $35.99


7. Plush Animated Bunny

Plays peek-a-boo and sings for baby.

Animated Plush Stuffed Animal, $32.97


8. 23andMe

Learn everything you want to know about your family history, where you came from, and even information about your genetics.

23andMe DNA Test, $67.99


9. Boon Bath Pipes

Make bath time more fun. They suction to the wall and can be played with individually or altogether in a chain.

Boon Building Bath Pipes, $14.99


10. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer

For printing all of those adorable Instagram moments—and for getting *all* of the photos off your phone.

HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $99.95


11. Board Blocks

Kids can sort, learn colors and shapes, and work on their hand-eye coordination.

Wooden Educational Geometric Board Block, $6.39


12. Ring Doorbell + Echo Dot

A great bundle for the techie in your life.

Ring Doorbell 2 and Echo Dot, $169.00


13. Pai Technology Circuit Conductor

For the little who wants to learn to code, this offers endless learning fun.

Pai Technology Circuit Conductor Learning Kit, $69.99


14. Kindle Paperwhite, Audible + Headphones Bundle

Bookworms will love this bundle. Enjoy a new Kindle Paperwhite, wireless bluetooth stereo headphones, and 3 month free trial for Audible for new users.

Kindle Paperwhite Bundle, $139.00


15. Wooden Grocery Store

We love this imaginative play grocery store, complete with a beeping scanner and hand-cranked conveyor belt.

Melissa & Doug Freestanding Wooden Fresh Mart Grocery Store, $179.99


Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work.We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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