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I’m about to delve into a touchy subject for many parents of school-aged children, so I’m going to preface this by waving a white flag. First and foremost, I am a mom to three kids in school. One of them has special needs and has had an IEP in place since he was three years old. In other words, I understand why many parents feel compelled to micromanage what is happening in their child’s classroom.


I know all too well the anxiety a lot of parents feel as the new school year approaches. They are hungry to know everything and anything about their child’s teacher. What is their age? How long they have taught? How strict or lenient are they? Do they have children of their own? What do they look like? And so on.

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This is an assumption, but I have a feeling it will resonate with many parents: You want to like your child’s teacher. Probably more importantly, you want that teacher to like your child. Basically, you want them to make all the same decisions that you would, because you know your child best, and you know what’s best for them.

When your child is with you, everything remains under your control. You are captain of the ship. But once your baby is on the bus, you relinquish all the decision-making that affects your child while they are spending their day inside those brick walls. It’s unnerving.

Things will go wrong. Your child will be teased. Sometimes, they will be bored or frustrated. They will, from time to time, get embarrassed. Or be hungry before lunchtime. Or trip and fall. Or be rejected by their peers. Or feel the sting of not being the best at a particular task.

You will not be there to work damage control. It will be up to…your child’s teacher. The worst part of all is that you won’t be there to witness it and make sure it is up to par with your expectations.

When your child comes home with a pout on his or her face, you will do a little digging for facts. Who is at fault for your child’s unhappiness? Why wasn’t the problem dealt with properly so that all is well in the world in your child’s eyes?

I’m going to cut to the chase right here. It doesn’t matter what happened. It’s the teacher’s fault. Here’s why I can make that statement with utter conviction (and you may have already guessed this by now): I was an elementary school teacher for eight years.

Somehow, along the way, our general culture has shifted from an accepted truth that teacher knows best to the opposite end of the spectrum, which means every move a teacher makes is under intense scrutiny from all directions. This has some benefits, as teachers should be held to high standards for the sake of the children they teach. But in many cases, this mindset can veer off onto a slippery slope where the only human being in the classroom held accountable for anyone’s actions is the teacher.

This might seem like an overreaching argument, but let me back that up with a few examples of everyday correspondence modern-day teachers receive from parents:

My child is annoyed with the student who sits next to her in class. Please change the seating arrangement in your classroom.

My child is discouraged because he has not been recognized as student of the week (or whatever positive behavior system that school has in place). When will it be his turn?

My child came home hungry from school today because she did not eat the sack lunch I packed for her. Can she be allowed extra time to eat?

My child is not being properly challenged by the amount of homework given. Can you provide additional homework for my gifted child?

In response to a negative behavior notice sent home: My child only behaved this way because so-and-so in class did this or that. She was only reacting and is not in any way responsible and therefore does not deserve any kind of consequence whatsoever.

This is just a sample of the ways (and there are many more) that parents do a disservice to everyone involved by stepping on the teacher’s toes. Of course, circumstances will arise that warrant parent intervention, such as bullying, abuse, etc. But overwhelmingly, these common interjections only accomplish one thing:

They teach your child that if they complain to mom or dad, the mess will be cleaned up. That certainly may be a temporary relief, but there is an inherent problem with that sequence of events. Your child has not learned any life lessons he or she will need to be successful down the road. We have essentially removed any natural consequences for mistakes that, as unpleasant as they may feel at the time, leave a lasting impression that actually changes behavior for the better.

To illustrate the point, try and recall a humiliation or let down from your youth. Maybe it wasn’t making the soccer team. Or somebody made fun of you because you forgot to wear deodorant and you smelled bad. Maybe you didn’t bother to study and bombed the test.

Those memories make us wince. We hated going through that. But guess what? We probably decided to do something differently because of it, if not just to avoid the experience in the future.

What if mom or dad had called the school and made everything a-okay without you having to change a thing? Where’s the motivation to push yourself if someone else is going to take care of it for you?

Herein lies the problem that so many kids struggle with. They don’t know how to come up with their own solutions because they haven’t been forced to yet. A certain gumption and mental fortitude is disturbingly lacking in so many upcoming students. Of course, I am generalizing here, but it is a problem for too many that will reap unwanted consequences for the future.

Let’s revisit our parental request examples from above and imagine that the teacher complied:

The child who had her seat changed because her neighbor was annoying? Now she doesn’t know how to manage being around irritating people. (If you’ve ever worked a job a day in your life, you realize this is a necessary evil.)

The student who earned a reward just because he thought he deserved it and is tired of waiting for recognition? Where is the push to keep going when he will have to keep working hard before a goal is in sight?

The child who now has extra time to eat lunch because she was too busy jibber-jabbering with friends to focus on what they were there to do in the cafeteria? She has missed out on learning how to prioritize her time when there’s a schedule to keep.

Extra homework because your gifted child was too smart for what had been assigned? If he really wants to be challenged, he needs to learn to motivate himself to explore ways in his free time to extend his knowledge and imagination.

And lastly, the child who only misbehaved because someone else did. How will she come to know that she cannot control the actions of others and instead take charge of her own attitude and behavior?

I make these cases in point to paint a picture of what starts to happen when we succumb to the urge as parents to swoop in and remove any painful experiences from the lives of our children. Sure, the tears subside for the moment. But what happens when they grow older? Isn’t our purpose as parents to guide them to self-sufficiency?

Maybe it’s a clearer perspective from the teacher’s point of view. As parents, we tend to mix our emotions with our child’s daily reality. But I’m willing to bet that if your child’s teacher has his or her best interests at heart (and most anyone who enters into a career in education does), that teacher is not only concerned with preparing your child academically. We also want to prepare them for life.

That’s what you want, too, isn’t it? We are all on the same team here, folks. Next time you feel inclined to save the day with a suggested alternative to a teacher’s method, ask yourself if perhaps the best course of action is to let your child learn the darn lesson.

Your kids may not thank you today. But you will thank yourself when they are older.

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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)

SHOP

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

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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)

SHOP

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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

SHOP

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

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To the family who's just received a childhood cancer diagnosis,

I want you to know that I see you. All of you.

I am the nurse who admitted your child to the oncology unit to rule out "something serious."

You watched me draw your child's blood, and help them change into their first of so many hospital gowns, and lift them onto the stretcher so they could get their CAT scan.

You probably don't know that I had to steel myself in the bathroom for a minute before I could walk into your room to be with you as the doctor told you that it was, in fact, something serious.

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You probably didn't know I was even there. How would you? Time warped, your vision tunneled, your breath left your body, and finding a way to inhale it back in was close to impossible.

You probably didn't see me. But I saw you.

You watched as I hung the first bag of chemotherapy, and I gave your child medicine for the pain—and the nausea, and the itching, and the heartburn. You worried about side effects. You asked 100 questions but couldn't hear the answers. You stared at that bag of chemo, simultaneously hating it and willing it to work.

We stood together in the bathroom. Your child between us, all three of us looking into the mirror as together we shaved your child's head so that the hair loss wouldn't feel so dramatic.

I want you to know that while you were watching your child in that mirror, I was watching you.

I watched you choke back tears, and smile bravely at your baby, and tell them how cool they looked with a shaved head. And when your child went back to bed, and you scooped the trimmings into your hands and wept over them, I watched you then, too.

The truth is that I watch you a lot.

Because while of course, it is my job is to take care of your child, it is also my job to take care of all of you. Because the reality is that childhood cancer is a family diagnosis. The child is going through something really difficult. It's okay to acknowledge that you are too.

The parents. You want to absorb every part of this diagnosis so it becomes yours, and not your child's. You would give anything to take the pain away from them. Please hear me: You already hold mountains worth of angst, worry, pain. You make your child's burden lighter every day. I promise you this.

You reflect on how two weeks ago, you had the annoying disagreement with a co-worker that made you upset all day—and that you would do almost anything to have that be the worst part of your day again.

You watch people walking on the streets outside the hospital, and you wonder how they can just go on with their lives while this is happening. You look at the sun and wonder how it has the audacity to shine.

You worry about the bills. You worry about your job. You worry about your other children, your sanity, your partner.

Your child carries this illness, but you carry the world.

The siblings. Who are scared and confused. Who knows that something is wrong, even though we try to shelter you as much as possible. You're too smart for that, I know. You understand more than we share, and I see you.

You want your brother or sister to be better because you love them, and because this is really hard for you. You're just a kid, too, after all. It stinks that you had to drop out of basketball because no one could take you to practice this season. It is not fun to spend your afternoons in the hospital, and weekends with a babysitter. Everyone around you is kind of on edge, and it doesn't feel fair right now. You know what? You're right. It's not fair, and it's okay to be mad.

I want you to know that it's also okay to be happy. If you go to school and forget about what's going on for a while, or if you find yourself laughing a deep kid belly-laugh, it's okay. It's great, actually.

The grandparents. Who hurt for multiple generations—for the child who has been diagnosed, and for that child's parent who is reeling, who will always be your baby.

The village. Who wants desperately to help and has no idea how. Who goes to bed at night and stares at the ceiling, unable to shake the onslaught of emotions. Who feels guilty and blessed and terrified as they look at their own healthy child, and murmur the words, "what if?"

To all of you. Your child is my inspiration, and you are my heroes. Your child's journey is made infinitely better by your presence in it.

Bravery is not the absence of fear and strength is not the absence of struggle. You are scared and struggling, and you are the bravest and strongest people I know.

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Life

Kid's birthday parties can be great: There's lots of playtime for little ones to wear themselves out, the entertainment is free and it's the perfect time to bond with other mamas. But when it comes to gift-giving, everyone's interpretation of these unwritten rules is different which can create unwanted stress.

You know the scene: Some mamas prefer to give handmade gifts, others like buying popular toys and some only contribute to the child's college tuition.

If you haven't already heard, the trending theme for kid's birthday parties is "the fiver" and it takes the guesswork out of gift-giving. Rather than spending $20 on a toy they probably won't play with in a month the hosts ask for a $5 bill. The money is pooled together and can be put towards one big, much more significant gift, instead of many smaller, less meaningful things. The idea is simple, and it turns out, hosting one is similar to throwing a traditional birthday party.

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Here are six ways to throw a seamless (and fun!) fiver party:

1. Don't do it alone

Many moms tend to plan everything for their kids' parties all by themselves. They write down a list of things that they need to do and feel accomplished after checking off every single item. But, when the special day finally comes, moms stress over the details for fear that something might go wrong.

When planning a fiver party, delegate tasks and responsibilities during the planning process. Having a helper or two for the big day cuts down on having to clean up a big mess afterward.

2. Create a distraction-free environment

Though this sounds like a tip for doing homework, it applies to throwing a party, too. If you book a show for 3- or 4-year-olds, it's better to hide all the toys and snacks beforehand so they can sit longer and focus better on the activity you planned. Best of all, with fiver parties, you don't have to worry about designating an area to open a bunch of gifts.

3. Remember that hand painting is better for toddlers

Many children like to get their faces painted for their birthdays or for special events. Though face painting is a popular activity, children who are less than 4 years old will often start moving, fidgeting or crying in the middle of it and turn the beautiful butterfly on their faces into a mess. Because of this, try hand painting for the younger ones.

4. Always keep them busy

Fill your fiver party with activities so that the guests will always have something to do. Maybe this sounds a bit difficult, but you don't necessarily need to book 10 shows for one party. Simply prepare a few easy games (like a treasure hunt, musical chairs and sack race) for them to play beforehand. Keeping the children occupied will make your fiver party fun and memorable.

5. Less is more

A shortlist of guests will keep your little one from feeling overwhelmed by the attention. For toddlers, a party that lasts about an hour and a half is perfect. If they're a bit older, add another hour. Just remember children don't need much to feel happy and loved.

Bonus! Here are two ways to save money while making your kids' fiver party memorable:

1. Host the party at home.

Sure, venues are great, but they can be pricey. Having a party at home is inexpensive and intimate. Also, kids are more likely to interact with each other if the space is smaller.

2. Only serve snacks.

A common way to stay on budget is to invite people between meals and prepare snacks, not a full meal. Most kids are usually so busy playing they'll just graze anyway.

This article was originally published on Partify by Natalie Wong and it has been republished with permission from the author.

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Learn + Play

When your toddler is screaming for milk, a toy or a snack in the middle of the grocery store, it may feel like your world is closing in on you. It might not seem like it in the moment, but tantrums are a normal part of your child's development—it's a child's way of expressing how they feel.

But regardless of why little ones throw fits, it can be tough to navigate. We looked to the parenting threads on Reddit where mamas discuss the ins and outs as well as ups and downs of child-rearing. We were all ears.

Here's the best tantrum advice Reddit mamas swear by:

1. Wait it out

"Tantrums are a toddler's way of venting excess frustration, energy and emotion. Just wait it out and once it's dying down, offer some comfort. After, talk with them and verbalize and validate their emotions."— StayAtHome478936

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2. Don't entertain it

"Do not engage with them at all during a tantrum. It's tempting to try to calm them down and introduce some reason to the situation, but don't give in to that. Screaming is a one-way ticket to being completely ignored. They're allowed to be frustrated and upset, but you're not obligated to listen to it."— VoteyDisciple

3. Give yourself a mommy break

"I give myself mommy time outs if I'm getting frustrated or angry and even though no one is enforcing me, I still get the benefit of calming myself down, and my daughter sees me proactively taking care of my mood/behavior."— ChandrikaMoon

4. Let them explore their world

"If you have patience with misbehavior, you open the door to your child escalating until she has your full attention. I let my toddler explore her world and do anything I deem safe, but I am strict about enforcing safety rules and I do not allow her to misbehave without consequences."— soMuchToFind

5. Focus on the real issue

"Rather than punishing the symptom of the issue, work on the actual issue. For my 4-year-old son we are working on breathing and counting as a coping mechanism for when emotions become too overwhelming. For him, it works well. He responds to most minor and medium emotions by breathing now."— Hiitskai

6. Say 'no' less

"There is a school of thought that if the child reacts terribly every time you say 'no,' say 'no' less. Instead of no cookie you say you can have carrots or cheese now. Always offer one or two good choices when you can and it will head off at least some of the fits."— toasterchild

7. Take away things

"My kid started showing signs of being low-level obsessed with a game so we took it away cold turkey. We explained that the game makes him behave in a way we don't like, so we are going to take a break. Sure he wasn't happy about it, but we are the adults and he is entitled to feel any way he wants to."— greenpotatoes9

8. Offer breaks

"Daycare helped us so much with tantrums. They taught her the phrase 'I need my space.' So, when she has her tantrum, she goes away for a moment, and then comes back in a calmer state of mind. Often, the more we try to help her, the worse it gets."— dave moe dee

9. Play music

"The main thing that almost never fails is listening to music during a tantrum. I'm really into music myself so I guess this is no huge surprise but my girl just cannot cry while Beyonce is playing."— PavLovesDogs

10. Do something unrelated

"As long as the kid isn't actively endangering themselves while throwing the temper tantrum, I completely ignore it. I make a point of going about my business and doing something wholly unrelated to whatever lead up to the tantrum. It didn't take long for my kid to learn that the screaming and fussing won't get them what they want."— PerestroikaPal

11. Compromise

"If you give into a tantrum, find a way to make it seem like you're compromising for some other reason, but not because of the tantrum. I always tell my 3 year old 'You know how to ask. If you want something, use your words, ask nicely."—athaliah

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Learn + Play

When kids enter puberty we warn them about the change. We tell them their bodies are changing and that it's normal and natural and they're beautiful just as they are. But when women become mothers and their bodies—and brains—change, we are not offered the same affirmations and comfort as adolescents. Society tells children to accept the ways their bodies stretch, grow and shift to carry them through adulthood, but it tells the women who carry these children in their own bodies to fight change at all costs.

Luckily, that is changing. Women are standing up and saying what society should have been telling us all along: Yes, motherhood changes your body, but that change is beautiful.

And now, in a brilliant move that is both excellent marketing and empowering, hundreds of women are putting their postpartum bodies on display. The act is a powerful statement to themselves and to other mothers: Our bodies are meant to evolve and change, and you are normal and natural and beautiful just as you are.

Knix is selling underwear, but the brand is also creating real change with a project called The Life After Birth Project, which saw 250 photos of real moms exhibited in an NYC gallery before rolling into Knix's hometown, Toronto, Canada, this week.

The photos are refreshingly real and exactly what women need to see in 2019.

The Life After Birth Project shows the beauty and reality of postpartum healing 

One of the most damaging myths about postpartum recovery is that it is quick. It isn't. It actually takes about six to eight weeks for the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. The bump doesn't instantly disappear because it took 9 months to grow. A mother's body needs time to heal after birth, whether it was a vaginal delivery or a C-section, but too many mothers aren't given that time.

In the United States, so many working moms are back at their job within five weeks of giving birth, and even if paid work isn't a factor, unpaid labor and family obligations can have mothers doing too much too soon.

As Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor and Birth Expert, has said, "You would never expect someone to clean their house a few days after having surgery, or to run errands when they are getting over the flu—so why do we expect ourselves to snap out of giving birth? Pregnancy and birth are not ailments, but they are the real deal. Be gentle on yourself, and allow your body to heal."

Mothers should not be embarrassed by their changing bodies 

A recent survey found more than a third of women (37%) felt embarrassed by what their body was going through after birth. This is not okay, and it is why we need more projects like the The Life After Birth Project and more companies doing what Knix is doing.

That is why celebrities like Jillian Harris, pictured above, stepped up and shared photos of their own postpartum experiences for the Life After Birth project.

Yes, Jillian is wearing mesh panties and a giant pad in the above photo. But that's part of the journey and nothing to be embarrassed about.

We need to see our stories represented and know that this is normal.

More photos from #LifeAfterBirth

Four pregnancies in four years. This mama has been through so much and has some serious advice: "I wish our always busy culture recognized it more and gave new mothers patience and grace."

So do we Amy, so do we.

See the gallery in person

The Life After Birth Project is currently in Toronto but the next stop is Los Angeles on October 24.

The gallery will keep touring the US, too.

Stops are planned in Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Denver, Minneapolis. if you want to submit your own photos, tag @lifeafterbirthproject on Instagram and use the hashtag #LifeAfterBirth, or email your photos to lifeafterbirth@knix.com.

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