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“Okay, here are the rules. You can go medium fast, but not too fast. First under my chin, then my tummy, then behind my knees. No feet. Okay, go.”

I listen to my four-year-old daughter as she spells out her rules, then I do what she tells me. First, I tickle her under her chin, then on her tummy. “No ribs! No ribs!” she shouts, breathless with giggles.

Then I go on to tickle behind her knees, gently. “You don’t have to keep both hands in the same place, you know,” she says.

When it gets too much, she says stop. And I stop, immediately, stepping back and putting my hands up in the air with a smile. 

She is testing me and testing herself, trying out different flavors of experience and honing in on the ones that are the most delightful to her. And at each step, she is telling me what she wants, articulating it clearly and kindly.

It is a delight to witness, and something that I can see is so natural, so easy for her, with someone she loves and trusts so deeply. But will it always be so?

It is a deep physical intimacy we share with our children, and not just because we are the caretakers of their well-being. We delight in their small bodies: the shape of them, the round curve of the belly, the softness of the tiny hand that slips into our own, the warmth of them as they sleep, the smell of them. They give their bodies to us so completely and with such open hearts, and in a way that they may never do again with anyone else.

When my daughter was two and first started lifting up her chubby arms to hug my neck, or plant little kisses on my cheeks, this boundless giving filled me with equal parts awe and terror. I felt a deep responsibility to treat her love with the respect that it deserved – and a deep fear at how easily this trust could be exploited.

But part of my job is to show her as clearly as I can exactly what it should look, and sound, and feel like when someone you love treats your body, your needs, and your desires with respect. Just as I want my daughter to grow up feeling safe, strong, and secure, I want her to know what to expect – or to demand – from someone she loves.

Four-year-olds are great at demanding, in a way that I am not.

“Get me some milk!” my daughter barks, as I set her lunch in front of her at the table.

I hear myself pushing back against her demands daily.

“Try that again, sweetheart,” I remind her, more often than not with a frustrated edge to my voice.

Her demands seem constant, and at times infuriating. (Why can’t you put on your own shoes?) Parsing those demands is a constant negotiation, an exercise in the meaning of our relationship. I weigh her needs against my own, always knowing that there is no measure for these things. Yet I must make these imprecise calculations, because I can neither give in, nor hold out, all the time. I seek a balance, not knowing quite what it will look like, but grasping for it with what I know of her, and of me.

Most days, any balance between her needs and my own feels unattainable. Someone usually ends up unhappy. I try to make sure it isn’t her. But I also try to make sure that she is aware that I have needs, and that she understands what happens when two people’s needs come into conflict. Decisions must be made (she is already very good at brokering compromises). Conversations need to be had. There is no set way to weigh what she wants against what I want, and yet we do it, daily. We do our best.

I struggle to articulate to her why I respond differently to “Get me some more milk” and “Tickle me more gently behind the knees.” Why do I satisfy one demand so willingly and not the other?

Why indeed? I suppose it’s because, if I am going to teach my daughter that there’s one area of her life where she does not have to be polite, it is when she’s advocating for her own body. As important as that is to me, I’ve been on the wrong side of it more than once.

The other day, I saw her scratching at a spot on her face that has been worn raw by the ravages of a cold and, not thinking, I reached over and swatted her hand away from her face without a word. She turned to me, enraged, and screamed, “Don’t you ever do that again, Mother! That was not okay!”

I did not defend myself, because she was right. It wasn’t okay. And while I won’t have my daughter screaming at me to get her some more milk or put on her shoes, I absolutely do want her to scream when her consent is on the line.

I want her to hold on to that sense of outrage, that fierce defense of her own body and needs, as she grows into adolescence and adulthood. As she encounters people who are less generous, less attentive, less willing to let her call the shots. As she fights the battles we all fight to keep at bay the hands that go where they don’t belong – the encroachments on our bodies, our space, our selves.

So we play games. We tickle, we fight, we roll around on the grass pretending to be monsters. We play a game that we agree to play, together, but she is the one making the rules. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna


2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna


3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95


4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna


5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna


With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

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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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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