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We love a good family adventure. But traveling with kids? It's no easy feat, mamas. Gone are the days of throwing a few things in a bag and catching the next flight to the beach; now it's all about packing lists + pacifiers, diapers + dream feeds, and doing your best not to forget all the things you need to make it through the day with your little ones. And number one on our must-have travel list? A compact stroller.


A lightweight, compact travel stroller is an absolute must for a family on the move. When you're juggling kids on the go, the last thing you need to worry about is a big, bulky stroller that's going to take up your entire trunk or slow you down in the airport.

If you're planning your next trip—or just looking to lighten your load—check out our seven picks for the best all-around compact strollers perfect for travel!

1. Baby Jogger City Tour LUX

Brand new for 2018, this compact stroller is one of our favorite options for families on the go who also need the versatility and maneuverability of a much larger stroller. Weighing in at 19 pounds, it has five riding options: an infant car seat, a foldable pram, a reversible seat (rear or forward facing), and a glider board for an older child. All of these amazing features don't compromise this stroller's compact design, though—the LUX folds up small enough to meet carry-on requirements for most airlines. It even features a built-in carry strap and comes with a backpack-style carrying bag.

The City Tour is constructed from soft, breathable fabric, and features an easy one-hand fold with an auto-lock feature. It reclines to a nearly flat position, has an XL canopy with a peekaboo mesh window, and has four swivel wheels that offer incredible handling even over bumpy terrain. (We truly forgot we weren't pushing our larger, everyday stroller instead of one that folds up into a backpack!) It's the perfect stroller to tuck away in the overhead compartment during a flight or quickly pop in the back of your trunk when you and your family are on the go.

Baby Jogger City Tour LUX
$299.99, Nordstrom

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2. OXO Tot Air

At a mere 11 pounds, you won't know if you're carrying around your 3-month-old or this incredibly compact, affordable stroller🤔 Unlike a lot of smaller strollers, the Tot Air features front wheel suspension, making it easy to navigate and giving your little one a smooth ride even on uneven surfaces. We loved the mesh sides, especially during the warmer months, and of course the fold feature—it easily folds down to about a third of its original size, and can be slung over your back for easy travel or storage.

The Air features a roomy basket and a great little zippered pocket below the handle that's just the right size for storing your wallet and keys. And did we mention that the fabric is all machine-washable? I mean, not that our kids ever get dirty or anything...

OXO Tot Air Stroller
$179.99, Amazon

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3. UPPAbaby MINU

We've yet to meet an UPPAbaby we didn't love, and the brand new MINU is no exception. Weighing in at just under 15 pounds, this compact powerhouse of a stroller will take you wherever you need to go without sacrificing on the conveniences you've come to know and love from the brand—a smooth ride, a multi-position reclining seat, an extendable canopy, and an easy access basket.

And the fold? It's truly the stuff of dreams, mama. It's quick, easy, and, most importantly, one-handed. (Really, we tried!) great for on the go due to the built-in strap and carry handle, and It easily converts into a travel system with the use of adapters. It can even accommodate a newborn with the use of the From Birth Kit accessory, making it not only a perfect compact travel stroller, but a great all-around stroller for urban parents who may be tight on space or who need to climb stairs on a daily basis.

UPPAbaby MINU
$399.00, Nordstrom

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4. Summer Infant 3DLite

At well under $100, the 3DLite is the most affordable option on our list—but that doesn't mean you'll need to sacrifice any of the must-have features you want in a compact stroller. This durable stroller weighs in at 13 pounds and features a four-position recline, a roomy storage basket, and a fully adjustable (and removable) canopy with a flip out sun visor. It even has a cup holder perfectly sized to fit your third coffee of the day. ☕☕☕

Although the fold isn't quite as compact as some of the other strollers on our list (it's a vertical fold rather than a horizontal one), it's still easy to carry with the attached shoulder strap and won't take up a ton of room in your trunk.

Summer Infant 3DLite
$79.99, Amazon

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5. Mountain Buggy Nano

The Nano is another one of our absolute favorite full-service, everyday strollers that also boasts the convenience of a compact, easily portable travel option. Weighing 13 pounds, the stroller features a two-button fold that transforms it down to 21" x 12" x 20"—small enough to easily fit in an overhead airplane bin, on a train, or even on the floor of your car's backseat. (It also has a one-handed unfold.) It's easy to maneuver thanks to built-in rear wheel suspension and swivel wheels, and can even be popped over curbs while you're exploring city streets.

If you're looking for a lie-flat option, there's an accessory called the cocoon that easily snaps in (and out), making the stroller newborn-friendly. And speaking of accessories—we love them all! From special edition color packs to a glider board that transforms into a toddler scooter, we 💜 all of the personalized options the Nano offers.

Mountain Buggy Nano
$249.99, Nordstrom

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6. gb Pockit

Curious as to which stroller holds the 2014 Guinness World Record for the world's most compact stroller? Look no further, mamas—it's the Pockit! (Really, it is!) Measuring 11.8" x 7" x 13.8" when folded (translation: that's reaaallly small), this 9.5 pound baby transporting marvel is seriously amazing. We're pretty sure our diaper bag weighs more 🤷🏽♀️

Even though the Pockit is small, it's still mighty—it can hold a child up to 55 pounds, and is sturdy enough for whatever your travel day may have in store for you. There's not a ton of storage, but hey, sacrifices need to be made somewhere in a stroller that fits into a backpack! It does have a reclining seat, car seat adaptability, and can stand on its own when folded.

gb Pockit Lightweight Stroller
$179.95, Amazon

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7. Babyzen Yoyo, Air France Edition

For the ultimate in compact strollers, the Yoyo checks all the boxes as our luxury splurge pick. It boasts the most amenities of all of our choices: a "soft drive" system (enabling you to navigate rough terrain without having to lock the wheels in place), a reclining seat, an extendable leg rest, four-wheel suspension, beautiful fabrics and extra seat padding, custom color packs, a carry strap, and even a rain cover, just to name a few.

Like our other compact picks, it also folds up teeny-tiny via an easy one-handed fold, and it's compatible with many infant car seats, making newborn travel a breeze. It's even certified for airline carry-on luggage, meaning you've got one less thing to worry about when you're taking your little on on the plane. We are obsessing over the chic new Air France edition (Babyzen is a French-owned company), which features a navy blue shade and an airline-inspired print. Because who can't use a touch of French elegance in their everyday mom life?

Babyzen Yoyo, Air France Edition
$524.00, Amazon

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Student loan debt is a major problem for many mamas and their families―but it doesn't have to be. Refinancing companies like Laurel Road help families every year by offering better rates, making payments more manageable or helping them shorten their loan term.

If you're ready to start taking control of your student loan debt, here are five steps that could help you conquer your student loan debt and get a loan that works for you.

1. Understand your refinancing options.

Like motherhood, managing student loan debt is a journey made much easier by experience. If your eyes start to cross when you hear variable and fixed rates or annual percentage rate, start your process with a little education. Laurel Road offers a user-friendly resource hub with student loan refinancing guides and articles that can help explain your options and get you started on a more informed foot.

2. Potentially improve your credit score.

Your credit score is important because it provides an objective measure of your credit risk to lenders. It also has an impact on many aspects of your finances, so it's a good idea to understand and track your score regularly. To try and improve your score, pay your bills on time—your payment history is one of the most important factors in determining your credit score. Having a long history of on-time payments is best, while missing a payment may hurt your score. Another action to improve your credit score would be to keep the amount you owe low—keeping your balances low on credit cards and other types of revolving debt, such as a home equity lines of credit, may help boost your score. Remember, good credit scores don't just happen overnight, but taking positive financial steps now can lead to more positive outcomes in the future.

3. Get a better understanding of your current loan benefits.

Different loan types have different benefits and you want to make sure you don't lose any valuable benefits by refinancing your current loan. Before you're ready to apply for a better option, you need to know what you have. Determine your loan terms (how long you have to pay off your loan and how much you're required to pay each month) and find out your current interest rate.

When you took out your original loan, especially if it was a federal loan, everyone who applies is given the same rate regardless of their personal credit. When you look to refinance, companies like Laurel Road look at your credit score and other attributes to give you a personalized pricing option―one that's often more competitive than your original terms. However, it is important to know that federal loans offer several benefits and protections, including income based repayment and forgiveness options, that you may lose when refinancing with private lenders (learn more at https://studentloans.gov). Try Laurel Road's Student Loan Calculator to get a bigger picture perspective of what it will take to pay off your loan and the options available to you.

4. Pick the terms that fit your lifestyle.

Your long-term financial goals will determine what refinancing terms are right for you. For example, a 3- or 5-year loan means faster payoff times, but it will mean a higher monthly payment―which might not be possible if you're planning to purchase a home or looking to move your toddler to a more expensive school. A loan with a longer term will have lower payments, but more interest over the duration of the loan.

Want to see what your options are? Check your rates on Laurel Road. They'll perform a "soft credit pull" using some basic information (meaning initially checking your rates won't affect your credit score ) so you can make an informed decision. If you do proceed with the application Laurel Road will ask for your consent on a hard credit pull.

5. Don't miss out on discounts.

With a little research, many people can find opportunities for lower rates or discounts when refinancing their loans. For example, if your credit isn't the best, look into the possibility of adding a cosigner who may help boost your rate. There are also many associations and employers who offer student loan benefits. Laurel Road partners with a number of groups and employers who offer discounts on rates―so check with your professional associations or HR to see if any options are available to you. Finally, talk to your financial institution, especially if you're planning to take out another major loan like a mortgage. In some cases, having another product with an institution can get you a preferred customer rate.

This article is sponsored by Laurel Road. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The bond between sisters is special, but Jill Noe and Whitney Bliesner have a unique bond that goes beyond just being siblings. As twins, Jill and Whitney shared a lot throughout their lives, and when Jill became Whitney's surrogate they even shared a pregnancy.

As first reported by Today, Whitney has a rare disease called NF2 (Neurofibromatosis type 2). Because of NF2 she lost the vision in her left eye and hearing in her right ear, along with partial hearing loss in her left ear. The condition makes pregnancy risky, and the disease is hereditary.

Whitney and her husband, Pete, wanted to start a family, but adoption and surrogacy fees seemed to be putting parenthood out of their reach. Until Jill stepped in as their surrogate.

"We have always had a strong connection, I do think this experience made our connection stronger, for sure," Whitney tells Motherly, adding that she's sure that when Jill eventuallu has kids of her own the sisters will likely bond over motherhood, too.

Through IVF, Jill carried donor eggs fertilized with Pete's sperm to make her twin sister's family, and on June 7 Jill delivered Whitney and Pete's son and daughter, little Rhett and Rhenley.

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"Going through this with Jill was so easy," Whitney tells Motherly. "We both had no idea what was going to happen or how we would deal with stuff during this journey. We had our ups and downs, but I think that's life, and in any situation you would experience that. But with my sister, there was a sense of everything was going to be ok, like always. We always get over our annoyance and disagreements with each other very fast with no hard feelings. It was just a great experience to have with my best friend, my twin sister."

Rhett and Rhenley are keeping Whitney super busy these days (with twins, someone is always hungry!) but she's making time to share her story because she wants other people who can't physically be pregnant to not give up on their dream of being a mom.

"It's not about blood or biologically carrying a kid that makes you a mom, it's the unconditional love, care, and security you give a child that makes you a mom," she explains.

Whitney continues: "Even though you aren't carrying or blood-related, you still have those feelings of babies being yours!"

Whitney calls Jill her best friend and Jill says the feeling is mutual, telling Today that she knows Whitney would have done the same for her if the roles where reversed.

"She's always wanted to be a mom and her disease has already taken so much from her. I wasn't going to allow (NF2) to take this opportunity from her, too," Jill said. "It just felt like the right thing to do. Our family is so strong and so supportive of one another, especially since Whit's diagnosis in 8th grade."

Thanks to Jill, Whitney is now living her dream, taking care of her two adorable babies.

Jill is an amazing sister, and Whitney is already an amazing mom.

[A version of this post was originally published June 14, 2019. It has been updated.]

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A dad's first Father's Day is always special, and Prince Harry is no exception. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a new photo of Baby Archie clutching his father's finger.

😍

It's been just over a month since little Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor came into the world and changed his father's. Shortly after the birth, Prince Harry described new fatherhood as "the most amazing experience I could ever possibly imagine."

This sweet Father's Day Instagram post is the first look at Archie the public has had since the royal family did their post-birth photoshoot in May.

While Archie's mom and dad recently attended the Queen's birthday celebration, Trooping the Colour, little Archie is still a bit too small for such a big party. His older cousin Prince Louis made his first Trooping appearance this year, so we can expect to see Archie at the Queen's birthday parade next year.

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Baby Archie and Prince Louis will likely be together soon for Archie's christening. Reports suggest the event will take place next month at Windsor Castle, the same venue where Archie's mom and dad got married, and where Prince Harry was baptized back in 1984.

We can't wait to see more photos of sweet baby Archie on his big day!

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Do you feel guilty when you don't want to play with your kid? I do.

Do you give in and play with them anyway, all the while checking your phone and wondering exactly how long you have to pretend to be a dinosaur? Or do you say "no" to play time and endure the inevitable whining, coupled with mom-guilt that ensues?

Neither of these options is particularly tempting.

So what's a mom, with a fully developed intellect and adult interests and subsequent lack of interest in playing with toys for 10 to 12 hours a day, to do?

Here are six phrases to try next time your kid wants to play and you need a break.

1. "I will be cleaning the kitchen. You're welcome to join me."

This is my personal favorite and one I use daily. The next time you need to get something done and your child is clinging to you, offer an invitation instead of a dismissal.

Try asking your child to join you instead of saying, "go play." The beauty of this phrase is that it gives your child a choice—they can either be with you and help with what you are doing, or they can go play independently.

Often my toddler will join me for a while and then drift off to play on his own.

2. "I'm not available to play dinosaurs right now. Would you like to read with me?"

While sometimes we simply need to get something done, other times we just honestly do not want to play whatever our child is asking us to. And that is okay.

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There are only so many hours in the day that you can reasonably be expected to play dinosaurs or princesses. If you are available to spend time with your child, but find yourself cringing at the idea of one more game of superheroes, offer an alternate activity.

It's important for children to get the chance to choose the activity sometimes, but it doesn't have to be all of the time. Offer one or two activities that you would genuinely enjoy doing with your child and give them the choice of whether to join you.

3. "I'm going to read for 20 minutes and then I will be able to play Legos with you."

Let your child see your interests too. You don't have to cram your own life and hobbies into nap time and after bed. It's okay, and even valuable, to let them see that you are a whole person with your interests.

Tell them that you want to read or garden or workout for 20 minutes. Invite them to sit nearby, or to play on their own. It helps to start with a very manageable amount of time, like 15 or 20 minutes, and stretch it as your child's ability to play on their own grows.

Your child may sit and whine for the entire 20 minutes. While this can be annoying, it is best not to respond in anger. Try to acknowledge their feelings, but don't give in to their demands. You might say, "I see that you're having a hard time waiting for my attention. Reading is important to me. I'm going to read for 15 more minutes, and then I would love to play with you."

If you do this consistently, your child will get used to the idea that you have needs and interests too.

4. "I don't want to play right now, but I would love to sit and watch you."

Be honest with your child. It's okay if you want to be with them, but don't feel like actively playing. This can be an excellent way to observe how your child plays when left to their own devices. It is also a way for them to share their favorite games with you, without you feeling forced to play something you don't enjoy. Children can tell when we're not having fun, even if we try to fake it.

5. "I would love to play for a few minutes. Then I will need to fold the laundry."

Sometimes children need help getting started. It often works well to play with them for 10 or 15 minutes and then back away to do something else nearby. This allows your child to play independently while also saving your sanity.

6. "Sure, I'll play! You choose the game today, and I'll choose tomorrow."

While we naturally do not share all of our young children's interests, it is important for children to get to choose what we do together some of the time. Create a system where your child chooses sometimes, and you choose other times. Once your child is confident that they will get to decide what you play together sometimes, they will likely let go of the need to always demand that you play certain games.

Bottom line:

The beauty of learning to say "no" to your child's requests to play is that you will enjoy the time you do spend playing together. No one has fun when they feel like they're being forced to do something, even if it's by a 4-year-old.

And the thing is, they can tell. Children know when we want to be there and when we're just phoning it in—we're not fooling anyone.

When I force myself to play, I imagine my toddler feels sort of how I feel when I drag my husband to the farmers market. Yes, we're doing what I wanted to do, but I can tell he's not into it and that kind of takes all the fun out of the experience.

Once you feel the freedom to decide whether or not you want to play, you can choose the times when you do feel like being silly, playing pretend or merely dropping everything to build the tallest tower ever in the whole full world.

And your child? They will know the difference. Their little heart will be so full of playing with you when you want to be there. That's what will stick with them, not all of the times you said no.

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Sleep is one of the most talked about and debated topics out there for parents. It is almost as if how good our babies sleep is some sort of weird competition between exhausted parents.

We think that if our baby is sleeping well or "through the night" then we must be winning in the parenting department, yet if they are waking up more often then we feel ashamed and somehow open ourselves up to opinions from our friends, parents, neighbors and the lady at the grocery store with ways to help them sleep better. It is frustrating and disheartening at times.

The competition creates a divide between us instead of allowing us to support each other through this rollercoaster ride of parenting. "Hey mama, sounds like your baby needs some extra cuddles through the night, so how about I come and bring you coffee in the morning?" is what we need to be saying versus the sad puppy eyes look while saying, "Aww, that is too bad, have you ever thought of sleep training?"

"How do they sleep?" seems to be the perfect ice breaker question when meeting a new parent. As a mom of three, I've been asked this question a lot. As a sleep consultant, I've been asked this question even more!

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My response is always the same, "My baby sleeps like a baby." I have come to realize over the last five years of working as a sleep consultant that it has less to do with how our baby actually sleeps and more to do with our expectations on sleep. There could be two babies that sleep exactly the same and one family claims their baby is a "bad" sleeper while the other states that their baby is a "good" sleeper.

This has changed how I have parented because I now know that it is more about how I feel versus reaching a goal of perfect sleep. What does "perfect sleep" even mean? Is there an actual definition? No. It is all about reaching your own individual goals no matter what they might be.

My youngest baby is 18 months old now and I would say that she is a pretty good sleeper. I would say this both from a parenting perspective and from a sleep consultant perspective but I want to share with you how we achieved this outcome through breaking all of the sleep "rules."

We co-slept at the beginning. I say at the beginning because it ended up not working well for us but not because I didn't want it to or because I thought it was bad. The first few months were wonderful and it helped me establish a positive breastfeeding experience and helped us all get more sleep at the time. I followed her cues and still to this day she isn't much for cuddling and so maybe it was just her personality that made her do better beside me in her own bassinet.

I often nursed her to sleep. With my first two babies, I was always so nervous about starting any "bad" habits until I finally understood that there is no one way to put your baby to sleep that is right or wrong. Everything works differently for different babies. I could nurse her to sleep and we, as a family, felt that there was no disruption in our sleep that was out of the ordinary. As she got older, we found different ways to help her fall asleep so that dad could be involved too.

I fed my baby when she woke at night. When she would wake up throughout the night I never thought of her as being spoiled, trying to manipulate me or that she was a bad sleeper. I simply thought that she was hungry. When she woke up at night, I went in and fed her and then we both went back to sleep happy.

I didn't try any type of "cry it out." In fact, I never could handle much crying right from the start. If she was crying then I would be crying so we found different ways to work on new sleep cues. My favorite way was having dad go in and rock her. This helped us eventually move away from the nursing to sleep so that we could gently work on consolidating some night sleep so I could have a little freedom (I was needing it after baby #3!).

My favorite thing to tell families is "sleep is only a problem if it is a problem." What I mean by this is that you are the only one who can determine if what you are doing is working for your family or not.

We all have parental instincts for a reason and need to trust them. If you feel rested, happy and overall like everything is going just fine, then it is. Even if this means you are breaking every sleep "rule" in the book. It took me some time to practice what I preach and when I did it felt like such a relief.

Finally, I could just do what felt right and in the end, everything worked out just fine. My baby sleeps well. Does she wake up sometimes at night? Yes, because she is human. Not every night is perfect but it is balanced which is exactly what it should be.

All of you mamas and papas out there with little babies who feel like this exhausting period of time is never going to pass. It will, and you will long for it back. Soak in the moments and do what feels best. You've got this.

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