Motherly's 2020 State of Motherhood survey results

Our third annual State of Motherhood survey is in.

Motherly's 2020 State of Motherhood survey results
@styledportland via Twenty20

Motherly is the voice of modern motherhood, with an audience of more than 30 million users who consume Motherly content each month. That is why our annual State of Motherhood survey is so important. It gives a voice to a generation of mothers and ensures the world knows what Millennial mothers are up against.

Year over year we find that mothers increasingly feel unsupported by society—in 2018 74% of mothers felt this way, by 2019 it was 85%, and now in 2020, 89% say "no" when asked if society is sufficiently supporting mothers. In 2020 a full 97% of Millennial mothers reported feeling burned out by motherhood at least some of the time, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making moms feel even worse.

The third annual State of Motherhood Survey results shows mothers are living in an acute state of burnout.


These findings and more insights into the attitudes, behaviors, identities and lifestyles of today's mothers are based on multiple surveys conducted between March 9 and April 23, 2019. The first survey, conducted online from March 9 to March 23, was answered by 3,195 U.S. Millennial respondents. We issued a follow-up addendum on the topic of burnout, but the coronavirus pandemic changed everything for American mothers. That's why from April 15 to 23, 2020 we conducted an additional survey with 3,169 respondents to ensure the impact of COVID-19 was reflected in our results.

Our survey shows:

  • The COVID-19 crisis has had a significant impact on mamas' mental health with 74% of mothers reporting they feel mentally worse since it began.
  • The coronavirus pandemic is also changing the way domestic duties are split in American households: from March to April there has been a 12% increase in splitting household responsibilities equally.
  • Working mamas, who were already reporting a significant amount of burnout pre-COVID-19, are feeling the effects of not having adequate childcare, saying it's the biggest source of stress.
  • Most pregnant women (96%) still plan to give birth in a hospital despite COVID-19.
  • Post COVID-19, working mamas mostly want more flexibility for themselves or their partners (30%), as well as a desire for their families to spend more time together (27%). Stay-at-home mamas mostly want their families to spend more time together post COVID-19 (30%) as well as to pay off debts/become more financially stable (24%).
  • Mothers are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis: 33% of Millennial mamas reported being designated as essential workers.

The first survey was designed and administered by Motherly and run by Edge Research, which weighed the data to align with US Census demographic data ensuring results are a statistically accurate representation of today's Millennial mother. Motherly designed and administered the COVID-19 addendum survey, which reached 3,169 respondents in the Millennial cohort, ages 24-39.

Among the key findings of the initial survey:

Burnout is real 

For the first time this year, Motherly asked about parenting burnout and we find that nearly all moms (86%) experience it at least occasionally, and a large portion of moms (41%) are feeling burnout frequently (35%) or worse, all the time (6%). Not surprisingly, feelings of burnout are more common among mothers of more than one child, but somewhat surprising is that working moms are less likely to feel parenting burnout than non-working moms. Only 35% of working moms feel burned out frequently or always, compared to 51% of non-working moms, possibly because work is an outlet and they are spending less time "on" with their kids.


1 Child

2+ Children

Employed

Not Employed

Never/Rarely

16%

11%

15%

10%

Occasionally

48%

43%

50%

38%

Frequently

32%

37%

29%

43%

Always

4%

9%

6%

8%

Data reference Q19: In the past month, how often have you felt "burned out" by motherhood?

Burnout or no back-Up?

The majority of moms surveyed say they are raising their family with members of their own family or their partner's close by (71%) and 59% say they also have a non-family "village" they can call upon for help and advice. Yet, on a closer look, many moms don't appear to be getting all the support they need. While full-time working moms tend to blame burnout on the stress of balancing work and family (54%), most moms say it is the pressure of being the primary caregiver (40% overall, 51% among part-time working moms, 73% among non-working moms).

Most of the moms (73%) in the sample are working either full-time (54%) or part-time (19%) and 96% are married (90%) or with a partner (6%) who is also working (97%).

When comparing time spent on child-rearing and domestic duties, the moms report many more hours clocked than their partners:

Daily Hours on Childcare, Housework, etc.

Mom Hours

Mom's Partner Hours

Working Mom Hours

Working Mom's Partner Hours

<1

0%

20%

1%

15%

1-2

8%

48%

12%

47%

3+

89%

30%

86%

37%

Most moms report handling child and household responsibilities mostly by themselves (63%) while only 30% say they are shared with a partner and only 4% say their partner takes care of most of the household responsibilities. Even working moms – 54% of full-time and 71% of part-time – report carrying most of the childcare/household load. Numbers are consistent despite the age of the children with 65% of moms whose kids are under 3 and 64% of moms whose kids are 3 or older reporting the same share of the burden.

When asked directly about how supported they feel at home, nearly half of moms (46%) feel very supported but 47% say only somewhat supported and 7% feel unsupported.

Where do moms need more support? Survey respondents most frequently point to their physical and mental health (34%, same as last year's 33%), followed by home (22%, similar to last year's 25%) and with their spouse (26%, similar to last year's 24%).

Data reference Q17: Are you raising children with family nearby (yours or your partner's)? Q18: Do you feel as though you have a non-family "village" (i.e. close friends/neighbors/ congregation/etc.) whom you can call on for help/advice as a mom?Q20: Of the following, which factor do you most attribute to a feeling of motherhood burnout? Q50: How supported do you feel by your spouse/partner? Q49: Where do you feel you need the most support in your life since becoming a mom? Q38: How many hours of your day are dedicated to unpaid work (childcare, housework)? Q39: How many hours of your partner's day are dedicated to unpaid work (childcare, housework)?

Moms have no time for self-care

While hardly any moms get eight or more hours of sleep at night (only 8%), a significant portion of moms surveyed report getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night (47%). Sleep is the most scarce among moms of multiple young children and gets better once children are older.

Hours of Sleep Last Night

Total

1 Child

2+ Children

1 Child <3

2+ Children <3

1+ <3 and 1+ over 3

All kids over 3

<6 hours

47%

42%

53%

44%

54%

54%

38%

6-8

46%

50%

43%

49%

41%

41%

55%

8+

6%

8%

4%

7%

45

5%

7%

  • More so than last year, nearly half (49%) of moms report not going out with friends in the past month (compared to 43% in 2019). Moms who are at home with their kids (54%) and moms with two or more kids (54%) are even more likely to say they have not been out with friends in a month. The news is not all
  • Similar to last year, half (51%) have not gone out on a date with their partner (47% in 2019).
  • This year nearly 7-in-10 (68%) also say that in the last day, they had less than one hour to themselves without work or family obligations, up from 62% in 2019. Alone time is especially scarce for moms with multiple children under 3 – fully 73% of moms of those moms have not had an hour to themselves in the last day.
  • The news is not all grim though—balancing out the half who are getting little-to-no time for themselves are 51% who have gone out with friends and 49% who have had date night with their partner – though an hour to yourself is a rarity, with only 32% getting that.

Data reference: Q52: How much sleep did you get last night? Q53: In the last month, how many times did you go out with friends? Q54: In the last month, how many times did you go on a date with your partner? Q56: Yesterday, how much time did you get to yourself without work or family obligations?

Millennial moms are turning the corner on having more children

In 2019, 59% of Millennial moms had only one child, 32% had two and only 9% had three or more and 51% reported planning to have more. One year later, we find this generation of moms with more kids – 38% two or more and 11% three or more with only 43% planning to add to the nest.

Data reference Q2: How many children are you parent or guardian for? And Q7. Are you planning on having more children?

Motherhood is me

The trend of self-definition through motherhood continues with 71% reporting that they are "most strongly defined by their motherhood," an uptick from the 67% who said this in 2019 and the 59% who said this in the 2018 survey. It is still the case that younger moms (78% of moms under 30), those with more than one child (78%) and those who are not in the workforce (87%) are more likely to feel this way.

Data reference Q21: Select which best describes how you view your identity

Relationship + sex life

Most moms in the sample are married (90%) or living with a partner (6%). Similar to the 2019 findings, majorities report that having children has brought them closer together with their partners (70%), while one-quarter (25%) admit that parenthood has pulled them apart.

Spending time together with their partners (32%) and sex life (25%) top the list of parent-related relationship tension, the same as measured in 2019. Money worries round out the top three relationship tensions at 17% while parenting differences remain lowest on the list at 11%.

Pressure points of time spent together and sex cut across all relationships in equal measure regardless of number of children and working outside the home. Additional children point to more opportunities to disagree in discipline. Interestingly, money as a pressure point registers the same regardless of whether mom is working.


Total

1 Child

2+ Children

Employed

Not Employed

Time

32%

31%

32%

31%

34%

Sex Life

25%

27%

24%

26%

25%

Money

17%

17%

17%

17%

16%

Discipline

11%

8%

15%

11%

13%

Data reference Q9: Which best describes the impact on your relationship since becoming a parent; and Q10: What is your greatest parent-related relationship tension?

Digging deeper into sex as a relationship pressure point, a majority of moms (52%) report becoming interested in sex between 6 weeks and 6 months after giving birth (and 10% say before 6 weeks), fully a third (34%) report it took 6-12 months before they were really interested in sexual intimacy again. Age and multiple pregnancies/children play a role in being ready to have sex again:


Total

1 Child

2+ Children

<30

30-34

35+

<6 weeks

10%

9%

11%

18%

10%

7%

6 weeks- 6 months

52%

48%

55%

54%

53%

50%

6 months+

34%

37%

31%

18%

32%

40%

Consistent with last year and perhaps evidence of the tension around sex after children, a third of Millennial moms (32%) report having sex with their partner before they felt ready to do so.

Data reference Q11: At what point did you feel interested/ready to re-engage in sexual intimacy after becoming a mother? Q12. Did you have sex before you felt ready to do so?

Moms want and need to work—the workplace and society can do more to support women in the workforce

Trending with previous years, 53% of Millennial moms in the sample are working full-time, 19% part-time and 24% are not currently in the workforce. Among those working and living with a partner, 30% report contributing half or more of the household income; while 30% contribute between a quarter and one-half and 39% contribute less than a quarter – a significant shift from the 2019 survey in which 41% of working moms reported contributing half or more of the household income.

Financial need to work is consistent with last year at 76%, however, the desire to work is evident as well. Both full-time (52%) and part-time working moms (59%) point to a "desire to participate in work outside the household." And more than a third (38%) of working moms are motivated by a commitment to their career, particularly among those working full-time (42%).

To make working "work" for them, moms are changing their work status since becoming a parent. Full-time working moms report shifting to a more flexible role (25%), working remotely (24%), working few hours (19%) and even changing fields (12%). By far for part-time working moms the biggest change is working fewer hours, (likely moving to part-time work from full-time as 55%); followed by working from home (10%). Interestingly, 18% of part-time working moms report becoming a stay-at-home parent, suggesting they are balancing primary caregiving throughout the day with work. Changes are largely motivated by the need to find a way to adjust and accommodate to parenting responsibilities (56% for FT working moms and 45% for PT working moms). While a third (33%) of PT working moms say work became less important to them, only 19% of FT working moms said work became less important to them. Unfortunately for a small but not insignificant number of women, they have changed their employment because conditions offered by their employers were not conducive to working and parenting (11% FT; 14% PT).

When asked whether society sufficiently supports mothers, the answer continues to be a resounding no (89%). This is a sentiment that has grown in strength every year – from 74% in 2018 to 85% in 2019 to this year's high. What do moms think will make a difference? Most agree (54%) that stronger government policies around paid family leave, childcare, etc.) would have the biggest impact on mothers, followed by more understanding employers. Overall, 10% of moms say better social support would make the most difference and this is even more important to non-working moms (17%).

Data reference Q26: Are you employed? Q27: If "Yes", which best matches your reason for working? Select all that apply. Q40: How much of your family's annual household income do you contribute? Q27: Have you changed your work status (i.e., full time to part-time, etc.) in some way since becoming a parent? Q29: If "Yes", please describe how your job situation has changed since becoming a parent; Q30: If "Yes Adjusted Work Status, which best describes the reason for adjusting your approach to work? Q13: In general, do you feel that society does a good job of understanding and supporting mothers? Q14: In your opinion, of the following, what would have the biggest impact on the support of mothers?

"Momming" at work

Moms are fairly optimistic about combining career and motherhood with the majority saying they either believe it is possible to combine them creatively (46%) or they feel empowered and that becoming a mother has helped them in their career (14%). Yet, 29% still feel burnt out – it seems impossible to combine the two. These sentiments are the same among full-time and part-time working moms.

That said, working moms say employers could better support mothers through longer, paid maternity leave (20%) and on-site childcare or childcare subsidies (23%). Remote work (14%) and more flexible schedules (13%) combine for a third option to support mothers in the workforce.

These desires are underscored by moms' maternity leave experiences. While the majority (85%) of moms report their employers offered maternity leave, only 29% had fully paid maternity leave, while another 29% had partially paid leave and 27% had leave without pay. Leave without pay is even more typical for part-time workers at 36% -- only 11% of these workers had fully paid leave.

For those with working partners, the scarcity of leave for the other parent is evident. Fully 40% of partners had no leave. For those who do, however, the tendency is to have paid leave with 34% fully paid and 14% partially.

For moms who take maternity leave, the norm is about 9-12 weeks or more and older working moms appear to have jobs with greater ability to obtain longer leaves.


Total

Full Time

Part Time

<30

30-34

35+

<8 weeks

21%

22%

20%

33%

19%

20%

9-12 weeks

41%

43%

36%

39%

42%

40%

12+weeks

29%

31%

25%

18%

30%

31%

No leave

9%

5%

19%

9%

9%

9%

When it comes to returning to work, 63% of moms say they went back to work before they felt ready and 34% (a third) say the length of their leave compromised their ability to recover from childbirth. Most working moms feel that they can also be a mother at work (58%) though 24% do say they feel expected to pretend they are not a parent when at work.

Most working moms feel their place of employment is supportive of breastfeeding. Among those for whom it applies, 56% reported their employer provides adequate breastfeeding support in the form of time, privacy, etc. Still there is work to do in this regard: 14% say their employer does not provide adequate support and another 16% say that even though their employer provides the space and breastfeeding is looked down upon in the culture of their workplace. For those who feel looked down upon, it is by both managers and co-workers. These numbers are similar to last year.

Data reference: Q31: If you are employed does your employer offer maternity leave? Q32: How long was your maternity leave? (If you did not take one, select not applicable) Q33: Did you return to work before you felt ready to do so? Q34: Do you feel the length of your maternity leave compromised your ability to recover from childbirth? Q37: Did your partner have parental leave? Q35: Which best describes your mentality around combining a career and motherhood? Q41: If you are employed, how could your employer best support you as a mother? Q42: If you are employed, does your employer provide adequate support for breastfeeding? (i.e. time, privacy) Q43: If yes, but culturally you feel it is looked down upon, at what level do you feel like it is not accepted? (If you selected another answer, please select "not applicable") Q44: Do you feel you are expected to pretend you are not a parent when at work?

Raising the next generation to be kind

Once again Motherly asked about parenting style and the qualities Millennial moms are trying to instill in the next generation. As we found last year, "kindness" is the single character trait the most moms want to cultivate in their children, with a slight bump up as the top choice at 51%.


In Child

Most Important Quality to Cultivate

2018

2019

2020

Kindness

45%

46%

51%

Respect

16%

14%

11%

Resilience

n/a

12%

10%

Open-mindedness

11%

8%

7%

Curiosity

9%

6%

6%

Intelligence

5%

4%

5%

Braveness

5%

2%

3%

Generosity

2%

1%

1%

Tolerance

2%

1%

1%

When it comes to themselves, moms are looking to nurture their own patience (48%), understanding (15%) and compassion (14%). Far down on the list is fierceness (2%) and efficiency (1%).

When it comes to parenting style, Millennial moms continue to say they are "Collaborative" the highest characterization by far at 60% and consistent with previous years. It is followed by "Hands-On," at 20% who describe their parenting style as "I'm very involved in directing my child." There are far fewer who say they are Disciplinarians, "I want my child to follow and obey family rules above all else" (4%) or Free Range, "I want my child to make their own decisions with limited parental interference" (4%).

Data reference: Q22: What is the most important quality you aim to cultivate in your child(ren)? Q23: What is the most important quality you aim to cultivate in yourself as a mom? Q24: Overall, what best describes your parenting style?

Many Moms Experience Being Dismissed by Health Care Providers

Moms are divided on whether they always felt listened to by their health care providers, with 48% saying "always" but another 48% who said they sometimes felt listened to and 4% who said they did not feel listened to at all. More troubling, fully 44% say they felt dismissed/minimized by health care professionals at least once when expressing concerns about either their prenatal or postpartum health.

Date Reference: Q15: Did you feel health care professionals listened to you during your prenatal and birth experience? Q16: Have you ever felt dismissed/minimized by health care professionals when expressing concerns about your prenatal/postpartum health?

Among the key findings of the COVID-19 addendum: The COVID-19 crisis is impacting mom's mental health

A majority of mothers (74%) say they feel mentally worse since the pandemic began while 15% feel the same.

Our original survey found the majority of millennial mothers report feeling burned out by motherhood at least some of the time, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making moms feel even worse.

For women who are working full time (both in and out of the home), their primary cause of stress is childcare (30%) with family mental health being the second most cause of stress (25%). A full 74% of mamas are feeling mentally worse since the COVID-19 crisis began, while 15% feel the same. 33% also feel that what they want most post-COVID-19 is for themselves or their partners to have greater flexibility at work (27% of moms stated this was something they wanted from their employers in the first survey) .

It is clear that mothers need support and they are hoping to see it in the post-pandemic world. Of mothers currently working full-time, nearly 60% are hoping to see greater work flexibility, either for themselves or their partner when the COVID-19 crisis ends.

Leading cause of stress

Full Time Working

Part-Time Working

Stay-at-Home

Childcare

31%

18%

4%

Family mental health

25%

29%

37%

Physical health of loved ones

13%

13%

14%


The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way domestic duties are split in American households

Most moms (63%) report handling childcare and household responsibilities mostly on their own. Only 30% say they are shared with a partner and just

4% say their partner takes care of most of the household responsibilities.

However, the pandemic has already changed this dynamic. From March to April there was a 4% increase in the number of moms who report their partner is not working, and there has been a 12% increase in splitting household responsibilities equally, with 42% of moms reporting they split equally with their partners, compared to 30% reporting the same a month earlier.

This group reports their family mental health is their biggest source of stress at 30%. (4.3% experiencing marriage/relationship issues). 32% are working full time at home while 32% are not working/stay at home moms, with 40% of partners working full time at home. Even though this subset is splitting household responsibilities equally, only 34% are splitting caregiving responsibilities equally, meaning even though partners are helping out around the house more (67% say their partner most recently bought groceries for their families) they are not equally splitting childcare as well. (compared to the opposite, below). This group is spending less time (46%) devoting to distanced learning.

Household Responsibilities

Full Time Working

Part-Time Working

Stay-at-Home

Mama

43%

48%

54%

Her partner

10%

4%

4%

Splitting equally

44%

42%

38%

For those who are splitting caregiving responsibilities equally, they are reporting that childcare is their main cause of stress right now, at 35.6%. This cohort consists mostly of both mamas and partners working from home full-time, at 47% and 45% respectively. They are also splitting household responsibilities at a much higher rate as well, at 64%. The difference in who is buying groceries is also less, with moms reporting 43% of the time while their partners are at 51% (8% difference). Post COVID-19, this group wants their family to spend more time together and for greater flexibility at work for either themselves or their partners equally (29% each). Only 3.6% experiencing marriage/relationship issues and 62% are devoting time to support distance learning (10% more than anyone who is not splitting caregiving equally).

Most pregnant women still plan to give birth in a hospital despite COVID-19

Despite a rash of headlines declaring calls to midwives regarding home births have increased during the pandemic, 96% of pregnant millennial mothers still plan to give birth in a hospital, not at home.

These pregnant mothers are also, understandably, very stressed. The majority (72%) feel mentally worse since the COVID-19 crisis began. This underscores the need for continued perinatal mental health support in America, something that was already lacking before the pandemic.

Not quite half (42%) of the pregnant cohort split household responsibilities with a partner and 47% of pregnant moms also have 1 child, while 30% have 2 or more.

 Millennial mothers are essential workers 

More than a third (33%) of respondents reported being designated an essential worker - 45% of them are working out of the home (FT or PT) but 35% are working FT at home, while 13% are not working for pay or identify as stay at home moms.

The lack of socialization + structure for kids amid COVID-19 is hard on mom

A third (33%) of moms feel the hardest thing their kids are dealing with is no longer socializing with their friends. They are also most concerned with their family's mental health (31%) with childcare being their next concern at 20%. Many more moms with this concern are not working/stay at home moms (38%) while 97% of their partners work (FT or PT). This is most prominent in California (11%) and NY (7%). Less than half (43%) of moms who feel this way have 2 kids, while 41% only have 1.

Nearly a quarter (23%) feel the hardest thing for their kids is a lack of structure/daily routine. Family mental health is still the top stress factor (32%) but childcare is close behind at 30%.

Understanding how COVID-19 has affected mamas of different ethnicities:

A higher percentage of African American respondents report being designated as essential workers (39%). This group has seen a lower proportion of layoffs for either themselves or their partners, at 14%. Interestingly, fewer African-American mothers report feeling mentally worse (64%) and much more are feeling the same (32%). They are more equally splitting household responsibilities, at 50%, but mothers are still the primary caregivers (61%). Post COVID-19, most mamas want to pay off debt/be more financially stable (32%), followed by wanting their families to spend more time together.

In the Hispanic community, 40% of respondents reported either themselves or their partners were laid off due to COVID-19. Their biggest stresses right now are family mental health (28%), money (16%) and education of children (15%). About 38% of mamas are working full time at home, 38% are not working/SAHM, and 15% are working full time outside of the home. This group also has a higher rate of feeling the same since the COVID-19 crisis began (19%), while 71% feel mentally worse. A full 39% of Hispanic mamas are designated as essential workers, and 32% want to pay off debt/be more financially stable post COVID-19, while 22% wish to have more flexibility at work for themselves or their partners.

For White/Caucasian mothers, 32% reported either them or their partners had been laid off due to COVID-19, while 33% are designated as essential workers. The leading cause of stress is family mental health (30%) followed by childcare (20%). In this cohort 35% are not working for pay, while 29% are working full-time for pay at home. More than half (59%) are the primary caregivers, with 22% splitting caregiving responsibilities equally. About 17% of this cohort report feeling mentally the same while 75% feel mentally worse. Post COVID-19, they most want their families to spend more time together (29%) and to have greater flexibility at work for themselves or their partners (27%).

What moms want post-COVID

Year after year more and more mothers tell us society is not supporting them. In 2018 74% said society is not doing a good job supporting moms. In 2019 it was up to 85% and this year it is 89%.

Working moms say employers could better support mothers through longer, paid maternity leave (20%) and on-site childcare or childcare subsidies (23%). Remote work (14%) and more flexible schedules (13%) combine for a third option to support mothers in the workforce.

Our COVID-19 addendum survey found the top desires of mothers for a post-pandemic world are more time with family (28%) and more flexibility at work for themselves or their partner (27%).

Most wanted change post COVID-19

I want my family to spend more time together

28.3%

I want myself or my partner to have more flexibility at work

27.2%

I want to pay off debt/be more financially stable

23.1%

I want my family to focus on our health

12.5%

I want my kids to be involved in fewer formal activities

2.4%

Other

6.5%

METHODOLOGY STATEMENT:

Motherly designed and administered the initial survey, which reached 3,806 mothers through Motherly's subscribers list, social media and partner channels. This report focuses on the Millennial cohort of 3,195 respondents aged 24-39. The data were weighted to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data. Edge Research weighted and analyzed the data, providing insights to trends and key findings reported here.

Motherly designed and administered the COVID-19 addendum survey, which reached 3,169 respondents in the Millennial cohort, ages 24-39.

Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn on how they’re ‘sneak teaching’ kids with their new show "Do, Re & Mi"

The best friends created a musical animated show that's just as educational as it is entertaining

Amazon Studios

This episode is sponsored by Tonies. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Kristen Bell and Jackie Tohn have been best friends since they met as young singers and actors more than 15 years ago, and now they're collaborating on a new Amazon Original animated kids series called Do, Re & Mi. The show, which follows best birds Do, Re and Mi as they navigate the world around them while also belting out catchy tunes, is just as educational as it is entertaining.

On the latest episode of The Motherly Podcast, Bell and Tohn talk to Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about how they're "sneak teaching" kids with their new show and why music is such an important focal point.

"It was basically our mission from the very beginning to 'sneak music education' into kids' lives, hands, brains, all of it," Tohn admits.

"There's so much science and data to support that [music] helps kids, their brains grow with math, with social skills. It literally can change your neuroplasticity. You can put music of their favorite genre or timeframe on, in an Alzheimer's ward, and they will come back online for a couple minutes. I mean, it's crazy," Bell, who has two daughters of her own, adds. "You know, music can bind a lot of families together. It can bind friendships together. And it's just a show that you can feel really good about. We want to get it in front of as many kids as possible, because I don't like the fact that some kids won't have exposure to music. Their brains deserve to grow just as much as everyone else's."

The first season of Do, Re & Mi premiered on September 17th and its creators recorded 52 different songs for the show that range from reggae and pop to country, blues and jazz.

"That's what's so exciting about this show," Tohn gushes. "Not only are the lessons we're teaching for everyone, but every episode has a musical genre, a musical lesson and an emotional lesson. And so there really is so much to learn."

Elsewhere in the episode, Bell tells Tenety about how she made literal toolboxes that carry different regulation tools to help her kids calm down (one is "find a song you love and sing out loud") and why having a village is crucial to surviving motherhood, especially in a pandemic, while Tohn details her special friendship not only with Bell, but with her daughters, too.

To hear more about the show, Bell's experiences in motherhood, and her enduring friendship with Tohn, listen to The Motherly Podcast for the full interview.

Entertainment

12 baby registry essentials for family adventures

Eager to get out and go? Start here

Ashley Robertson / @ashleyrobertson

Parenthood: It's the greatest adventure of all. From those first few outings around the block to family trips at international destinations, there are new experiences to discover around every corner. As you begin the journey, an adventurous spirit can take you far—and the best baby travel gear can help you go even farther.

With car seats, strollers and travel systems designed to help you confidently get out and go on family adventures, Maxi-Cosi gives you the support you need to make the memories you want.

As a mom of two, Ashley Robertson says she appreciates how Maxi-Cosi products can grow with her growing family. "For baby gear, safety and ease are always at the top of our list, but I also love how aesthetically pleasing the Maxi Cosi products are," she says. "The Pria Car Seat was our first purchase and it's been so nice to have a car seat that 'grows' with your child. It's also easy to clean—major bonus!"

If you have big dreams for family adventures, start by exploring these 12 baby registry essentials.

Tayla™️ XP Travel System

Flexibility is key for successful family adventures. This reversible, adjustable, all-terrain travel system delivers great versatility. With the included Coral XP Infant Car Seat that fits securely in the nesting system, you can use this stroller from birth.


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$849.99

Iora Bedside Bassinet

Great for use at home or for adventures that involve a night away, the collapsible Iora Bedside Bassinet gives your baby a comfortable, safe place to snooze. With five different height positions and three slide positions, this bassinet can fit right by your bedside. The travel bag also makes it easy to take on the go.


Add to Babylist

$249.99

Kori 2-in-1 Rocker

Made with high-quality, soft materials, the foldable Kori Rocker offers 2-in-1 action by being a rocker or stationary seat. It's easy to move around the home, so you can keep your baby comfortable wherever you go. With a slim folded profile, it's also easy to take along on adventures so your baby always has a seat of their own.


Add to Babylist

$119.99

Minla 6-in-1 High Chair

A high chair may not come to mind when you're planning ahead for family adventures. But, as the safest spot for your growing baby to eat meals, it's worth bringing along for the ride. With compact folding ability and multiple modes of use that will grow with your little one, it makes for easy cargo.


Add to Babylist

$219.99

Coral XP Infant Car Seat

With the inner carrier weighing in at just 5 lbs., this incredibly lightweight infant car seat means every outing isn't also an arm workout for you. Another feature you won't find with other infant car seats? In addition to the standard carry bar, the Coral XP can be carried with a flexible handle or cross-body strap.


Add to Babylist

$399.99

Pria™️ All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

From birth through 10 years, this is the one and only car seat you need. It works in rear-facing, forward-facing and, finally, booster mode. Comfortable and secure for every mile of the journey ahead, you can feel good about hitting the road for family fun.


Add to Babylist

$289.99

Pria™️ Max All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Want to skip the wrestling match with car seat buckles? The brilliant Out-of-the-Way harness system and magnetic chest clip make getting your child in and out of their buckles as cinch. This fully convertible car seat is suitable for babies from 4 lbs. through big kids up to 100 lbs. With washer-and-dryer safe cushions and dishwasher safe cup holders, you don't need to stress the mess either.


Add to Babylist

$329.99

Tayla Modular Lightweight Stroller

With four reclining positions, your little ones can stay content—whether they want to lay back for a little shut-eye or sit up and take in the view. Also reversible, the seat can be turned outward or inward if you want to keep an eye on your adventure buddy. Need to pop it in the trunk or take it on the plane? The stroller easily and compactly folds shut.


Add to Babylist
$499.99

Tayla Travel System

This car seat and stroller combo is the baby travel system that will help make your travel dreams possible from Day 1. The Mico XP infant seat is quick and easy to install into the stroller or car. Skipping the car seat? The reversible stroller seat is a comfortable way to take in the scenery.


Add to Babylist
$699.99

Modern Diaper Bag

When you need to change a diaper during an outing, the last thing you'll want to do is scramble to find one. The Modern Diaper Bag will help you stay organized for brief outings or week-long family vacations. In addition to the pockets and easy-carry strap, we love the wipeable diaper changing pad, insulated diaper bag and hanging toiletry bag.


Add to Babylist

$129.99

Mico XP Max Infant Car Seat

Designed for maximum safety and comfort from the very first day, this infant car seat securely locks into the car seat base or compatible strollers. With a comfy infant pillow and luxe materials, it also feels as good for your baby as it looks to you. Not to mention the cushions are all machine washable and dryable, which is a major win for you.


Add to Babylist
$299.99

Adorra™️ 5-in-1 Modular Travel System

From carriage mode for newborn through world-view seated mode for bigger kids, this 5-in-1 children's travel system truly will help make travel possible. We appreciate the adjustable handlebar, extended canopy with UV protection and locking abilities when it's folded. Your child will appreciate the plush cushions, reclining seat and smooth ride.


Add to Babylist
$599.99

Ready for some family adventures? Start by exploring Maxi-Cosi.

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


Boost 1

This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

Woodland Snug comforter

Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

$249

Braided Pom Pom Throw

Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

$145

Lumbar pillow

sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

$65

Crystal infused sleep mask

sunday citizen sleep mask

Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

$40

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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10 Montessori phrases for kids who are struggling with back to school

The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here's how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.

No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don't want to go to school. Whether they're saying "I don't like school" when you're home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.

More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It's important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.

Here are some phrases that will encourage your child to go to school.


1. "You're safe here."

If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they'll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you're clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.

2. "I love you and I know you can do this."

It's best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, "It's just school, you'll be fine" belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you're confident they're up to the task. This validates the anxiety they're feeling while ending on a positive note.

After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.

3. "First you'll have circle time, then work time, and then you'll play on the playground."

Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.

It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.

4. "I'll pick you up after playground time."

Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.

If your child can tell time, you can tell them you'll see them at 3:30pm. If they're younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you'll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it's after math class.

Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they'll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.

5. "What book do you think your teacher will read when you get to school this morning?"

Find out what happens first in your child's school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.

If they're in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.

Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.

6. "Do you think Johnny will be there today?"

Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.

If you're not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.

If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.

7. "That's a hard feeling. Tell me about it."

While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.

Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they're really feeling.

They may reveal that they just miss you while they're gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.

Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.

8. "What can we do to help you feel better?"

Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.

Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.

If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they're too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?

Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you're rescuing them, to build their confidence.

9. "What was the best part of your school day?"

Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.

It's easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don't always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.

10. "I can't wait to go to the park together when we get home."

If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.

Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it's coming.

It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don't want to go to school. If you're concerned, talk to your child's teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they're in the classroom.

To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.

Back to School

Yes, a shower can be self-care—here's how to level it up

Some seasons of life can make you feel like you have no time for self-care, so here's how you can make an everyday activity a luxury.

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Over the course of the last several years, "self-care" has become not only a buzzword, but also a daily requirement for personal fulfillment. And while self-care is important, it loses its appeal when it feels like a chore, or yet another item on a never-ending To Do list. I have a one-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. I work full-time, and I do not have full-time childcare. As a result, like many parents, free time is the stuff of fairy tales.

Instead of beating myself up over my inability to get to the nail salon or to schedule a monthly massage, I decided to redefine self-care—to be grateful for the little moments, to elevate them. In the seasons of life where you can't figure out how to fit "self-care" in—or when trying to fit it in causes more stress—choose to relish the small escapes. After all, the intent of self-care is to feel better, to improve your overall health, to fill your cup so you can help to fill others. When the act of scheduling self-care puts more weight on your shoulders, it defeats the purpose.

I can't tell you how many articles I've read that say a shower—basic hygiene—shouldn't qualify as self-care, and I do understand that sentiment.

However, on the days, weeks, or even months where you can't find hour-long blocks of scheduled "me time," why not embrace your shower as an act of self-care?



In all honesty, my nightly shower after my kids go to sleep is beyond. I look forward to it. I set the mood and bask in 10-15 minutes of silence and pampering. Here are some of my tried-and-true tips to boost your shower:


  • Light a candle: What is it about the simple act of lighting a candle that sets the mood? I recently received a South Candle from my MIL, and the dreamy summer scent has me reaching for it again and again.
  • Use a dry brush: I jumped on the dry brushing trend a few years ago and never looked back. Right before I shower, I use a dry brush on my body to exfoliate and improve lymphatic drainage.
  • Hang eucalyptus: Visit your local florist, and buy a bundle of fresh eucalyptus. In addition to its spa-esque scent, eucalyptus boasts multiple healing effects, like promoting stress-relief and improving mental health.
  • Cleanse: Indie Lee's Brightening Cleanser smells delicious and is a great addition to anyone's summer skincare routine. This vegan and plant-based formula leaves my skin looking bright and firm.
  • Splurge: It's not cheap, but Tata Harper's smoothing body scrub buffs and polishes your skin, leaving it smooth, glowing, and in my case — ready to hit the sheets!
  • Moisturize: Post-shower, use your favorite moisturizer. I love Alba Botanica's very emollient unscented original body lotion — it's super hydrating and gentle on sensitive skin without an overwhelming fragrance.
  • Enhance your skin while you catch some z's: Glow Recipe's Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask completes my nightly skincare routine. It smells like candy, and I wake up with soft, dewy skin.

Moral of the story? For busy parents, your nightly shower is a special occasion, so don't save the good products for another day—use them now!

Elevating the little moments and being creative carries over to all other areas of your life as well. Can't make it to a barre class? Slide into bridge pose while on the floor with the kiddos and do some hip raises. Turn a dance party into a quick HIIT workout with some squat jumps. Take the kiddos for a walk and pop in your airpods. Fresh air, movement, and a podcast fuels my soul. Having trouble finding a sitter for date night? Enhance your "Netflix and chill" with restaurant-quality cocktails, fancy popcorn, and a bougie dessert.

In certain seasons of life, recognize self-care in the little moments. It's not worth stressing about your inability to practice an idealistic—and unrealistic—self-care routine. Instead, find the moment, elevate it, and enjoy it.

Beauty Style

Kate Hudson says she's not done having kids—here's how she knows

Hudson shared her reason for considering baby number four....and it's pretty relatable to fellow toddler mamas.

For many parents deciding how many children to have isn't an easy one. Mama of three Kate Hudson welcomed her baby girl Rani Rose in 2018 and has two older sons, 16-year-old Ryder Russell and 8-year-old Bingham Hawn. Her family is beautiful, but it may not be complete.

"I don't know if I'm done yet," Hudson said during a recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Hudson shared her reason for considering baby number four....and it's pretty relatable to fellow toddler mamas.

"Right now, Rani's in that place where you're like, 'I want another baby,'" Hudson explained. "But once she gets like four, five, you're like, 'I feel like my life is kinda back a little bit. They're kind of in a groove.' There's, like, a window."

There totally is a window, and it's 18 to 59 months, according to data from the CDC. More than half of the siblings born in recent years have an age gap between 18 months (1.5 years) and 59 months (4.91 years).

In this way, Hudson is pretty out of the ordinary as she's had longer interpregnancy intervals than most American moms with her first three kids. The gap between her sons is 89 months and the gap between her middle child and her youngest is 87 months.

According to the data, women in Hudson's current age group (30-44) are more likely to have longer interpregnancy intervals than younger moms, but only 20% of interpregnancy intervals are over 60 months.

Hudson's revelation about her family size came as she spoke to Ellen alongside her brother, Oliver Hudson to promote their new podcast, Sibling Revelry. The brother/sister duo also chatted about parenthood. Both have three children...but something may happen to break the tie.

"He raises children really easily. It's his best work, he's the best dad," Hudson says of her brother, who is a dad to Wilder, Bodhi and Rio. When asked if the siblings would keep having children until one of them "wins," they have two different answers.

"I have a feeling I'm probably going to end up winning," she said, adding that she's not sure she feels done at three.

Oliver won't be competing against his sister if she chooses to have another baby: He is, by his own admission, happy with three kids (because he's not in "the window"—his kids are 6, 9 and 12).

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