A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

I Thought I’d Be Lonely in The Bathroom: Observations from a School-Day Empty Nester

Little Mikey threw up all over the small, windowless bathroom.

Three or four times I went in armed with paper towels and good intentions but each time I’d start dry heaving and would have to run out of the room. Eventually I just closed the door and waited for his mother to get home to clean it. She paid twice what any of my other babysitting jobs did and I still couldn’t bring myself to do it. While she drove me home I kept apologizing. She said, “It’s okay. You get to practice with baby spit up and work your way up to bathrooms full of vomit.”

That’s when I first learned that there would be many small steps that prepare us for the larger parenting moments.

I’m still a good fifteen years or so away from having a completely empty nest (assuming none of the older ones try to move back in before the younger ones move out) But right now, I find myself on a threshold: a baby step toward the empty nest. It started when I registered my youngest child for full-day kindergarten.

The first time I found myself in that position I said to my husband, “Maybe we should think about adopting!” and extended my time at home raising babies by another four, then six, then eight years. This time there will be no new babies. This is really it.

Once I dropped those registration papers off, I found myself getting lost in watching my last baby singsong her way through putting her boots on. I began spontaneously hugging her with more frequency. A friend of mine told me that when her son was a few months shy of graduating high school, she found herself wanting to spend more time with him, wanting to enjoy every moment with him before he inevitably left her. I experienced this as well; finding myself completely fascinated by this little girl dressing up as a fairy-bride-pirate-ninja (when you’re on your fifth kid that fascination doesn’t happen as frequently).

After she started full-day school, I was at the supermarket (alone!) one day and found myself trying to decide which feminine care product might be the best for my oldest daughter. I noticed a mother with a baby strapped to her chest also making a decision for her child because, perhaps a bit ironically, the diapers are kept in the same row as the tampons. Seeing a baby – especially one that was carried the way I carried all of mine – made me smile, but I didn’t feel the need to become that lady clucking, “They grow so fast!” to younger moms yet.

I kept waiting for it to hit me: I’d see another mama with a baby in striped pajamas and I wondered if this would be the time I’d suddenly start crying in the produce section. Or maybe it’d hit me on the way home when I passed the playground filled with young parents pushing toddlers on swings. “Guess I’m no longer part of the weekday late morning playground scene,” I’d think to myself, wondering if there was a hint of wistfulness there.

But . . . no. No, there was not.

I wondered if I’d miss them now that they were all at full day school . . . I didn’t.

I thought that maybe I’d be lonely in the bathroom sometimes. Maybe it’s too soon to tell for sure but from what I can tell so far, this going to the bathroom by myself thing is actually pretty nice. I have yet to wish there was a small someone to talk to while I’m on the toilet or in the shower. As a matter of fact, it’s sort of luxurious.

“Getting all the kids off to school, I mean, THAT! That’s the pinnacle right? I mean that’s the GOAL, man!”

I ran into a friend and she asked me how I liked being home alone all day. “I don’t want to sound like I hate my kids or anything . . . but I’m pretty much the happiest woman in the world right now.” She, with three young adult children, admonished me immediately. “There’s nothing wrong with that! Getting all the kids off to school, I mean, THAT! That’s the pinnacle right? I mean that’s the GOAL, man!”

She was right. This was GOOD. We survived infancy, toddlerhood, and preschool. We unlocked the next level! They’ve taken a step towards becoming independent and educated adults. I’ve begun to wean off a life of being so desperately depended on. It’s okay to celebrate this time!

This, I realized, is a baby step of parenting. This is my spit up . . . and from now on I’m going to appreciate it.

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 you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

You might also like:

Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

Keep reading... Show less

As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

You might also like:

This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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.