True life: Once I started asking for help things got so much better

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There are few things as sacred in motherhood as having a door that locks. In my house that's the bathroom door, so my bathroom has become the place I retreat to when I need to have a small nervous breakdown or a piece of chocolate I don't want to share.

Considering that I have a lot of kids and a full-time job and a husband and a big old house and a dog and a body and a laundry pile and a fridge that never seems full, every once in a while I inevitably need to regroup by locking myself in the bathroom and having a good cry in a sad little pile on the bathroom floor.


This last time, as I was curled up having a grand old pity party, I couldn't help but come face to face with the actual condition of said bathroom floor. I tried to remember the last time I had cleaned it, and couldn't. It showed. And nervous breakdowns aside, I couldn't be expected to enjoy my secret candy bars amidst dusty tumbleweeds and soap scum.

This is how we get to me, locked in the bathroom, disinfectant cleaner and a rag in one hand and a tissue in the other, just scrubbing and sobbing away. And lord, if that isn't a metaphor for motherhood I don't know what is.

So I said to myself: when you get to the point of having to multitask through your nervous breakdowns, something probably needs to shift. Maybe it's time to ask for help.

One day not long after I had a headache, the kind that started in the back of my neck and wrapped itself right around my head like an unwelcome scarf, ending deep inside my ears. Lights hurt, sounds hurt, and breathing hurt. Not usually one to take a pharmaceutical remedy, I came up empty handed in my search for pain reliever in my own purse, and had no choice but to enlist the help of a friend. And as she handed me the ibuprofen, she asked me where the pain was, and when I answered, she told me it was probably a stress headache.

A headache caused by stress.

Considering what the last few weeks have looked like, this does not at all come as a surprise. When having a baby meets going back to work meets the regular everyday stuff we all muddle through, apparently the conditions are ripe for the perfect storm to brew. Right at the base of my head. And when the ibuprofen started to kick in and my vision started to clear, I thought of the lesson staring me in the face here:

When the pain became too much, I knew I needed help.

When I asked for help, I got it. And things got better.

So I looked around at my life, and I asked for more help. Yes, I am now having my house professionally cleaned. I am lining up some neighborhood girls to help me out with the baby on the evenings when my husband is working his second job. I'm allowing myself to buy pre-made meals from the deli without any guilt or judgement, and I'm forgiving myself the last five pounds of baby weight that won't come off right now, no more questions asked.

I'm waving my mama white flag.

Because I can't do it all. I certainly can't do it all well. What I know I can do, because I have been doing it for a while, is try really really hard to do it all, fail, and then lament my own failure right into a pile of snot and self pity on my dirty bathroom floor.

So instead of scrubbing my floors tonight after work, I am going to hold my baby. And next week, while my husband is at work, I will pay a sweet neighborhood girl to do the same thing so I can nourish my older babies with pre-made food that I heated up with love and a side helping of attention that isn't feigned.

It's actually kind of exciting, once I got past the initial shame of having to admit I was kind of drowning and found myself able to take a deep breath. The headache is gone. I can breathe. The bathroom floor is spotless. And now I kind of want to shout what I've learned from the rooftops: I need help and that's okay! And it's okay if you need help too!

Life is hard, y'all. It's winter and it's subzero and it physically hurts to run from the car to the house. The Christmas lights are packed away and so is everyone else. This season is naturally quiet and reflective, and it's so easy to feel alone and stressed and overwhelmed. We talk a lot about the body's response to stress: that whole “fight or flight" phenomenon that we all know so much about. Eons ago, maybe that stress was being chased by a saber tooth tiger, but today, I think that stress is more often than not just trying to do more than we are physically – or emotionally – capable of.

For me that includes raising a lot of children and working a full time job, but that's just who I am right now. For someone else that could be staying at home and raising children, or it could be trying to adjust to an empty nest, or it could be working a demanding job and trying to find time to sleep and eat. It could just be trying to find the strength to get out of bed in the morning and face another day.

For all of us, it's trying to remember to carve out a little time for ourselves, on the bathroom floor or otherwise. Our bodies are pumping out the stress hormones in full force and thanks, mother nature, for equipping me to outrun a bobcat, but that's not what I need right now.

What I need—what we need—right now is the courage to wave the flag and ask for help.

And maybe a chocolate bar.

I'll be in the (clean) bathroom if you need me.

This article was originally published on

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Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.


To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.

Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.

Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.

Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?


We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.

Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.

Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.

Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.


When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) started making headlines in early 2020 the expert advice was simple: Don't panic.

This week the CDC warned that the outbreaks of the virus will very likely happen in the United States, but it's important to know that officials still don't want parents to panic, they just want us to be prepared.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Messonnier said.


It is totally normal to read this and be concerned mama, but there are several things we need to unpack before we let our anxiety overwhelm us.

Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus response in the United States:

Top doctors are preparing for this

As the virus has spread rapidly overseas America's top doctors have been monitoring the situation. In not quite two months' time 80,000 people have contracted the illness and fewer than 3,000 of those people have died.

In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed (most of those were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan or people who caught the virus while traveling overseas). There have only been two cases of person-to-person transmission on U.S. soil, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more than 1,000 professionals working on the response to this virus, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modelers.

"CDC staff members are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, and medical management of cases; and with academic partners to understand the virulence, risk for transmission, and other characteristics of this novel virus," the agency states on its website.

And while there have been delays in implementing Coronavirus testing measures in the Unites States, experts are working to resolve issues and make testing more efficient. As the New York Times reports, the health and human services secretary "told a Senate panel that federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers."

In other words, the experts in the United States are preparing to fight this virus and they want the American public to be prepared, too.

This could impact school, work and daily life

That's why the CDC is telling us to get ready, not to cause panic or anxiety but just to set the expectation that life could be disrupted by this virus. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Messonnier said Tuesday.

She says schools may have to close or otherwise adjust to an outbreak and students may have to start doing tele-schooling online. She also wants businesses to start preparing to hold meetings remotely rather than in-person and to encourage telecommuting during any outbreak. Community activities like sports and church may also have to be canceled or modified.

As the New York Times reports, "Scientists don't know who is most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Children seem less likely to be infected. Middle-aged men seem to have been disproportionately infected, according to some studies."

This could be really disruptive for families

It is true that the scenario Messonnnier is outlining could be really disruptive for families. No one wants this to happen, but if it does have to happen it's a good thing we are getting the heads up.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for possible interruptions to daily life:

  • Talk to your workplace about any plans it has for operations during an outbreak.
  • Speak to your child's school or childcare provider about how it plans to operate in a worst-case scenario.
  • Ask your doctor for an extra prescription of any medications your family needs, just in case an outbreak makes going to the pharmacy not possible.

Here's how to protect yourself + your family from the Coronavirus

The CDC does not recommend that we all go buy face masks. Face masks are only recommended for people "who show symptoms of COVID-19...[and] health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Instead, here's what we can all do to avoid the illness, according to the CDC:

  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe."

We know this is serious and kind of scary, mama. But please, don't panic. Know that pandemic experts are working to keep your family safe. According to the CDC, the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators are working on development of candidate vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19."

On Tuesday, President Trump said the coronavirus is "very well under control in our country" and "is going to go away." The health experts who work for the government are doing everything they can to prove the President right, but they do want the public to be ready in case it doesn't go away as fast as he (and all of us) would like.


For nine months, your mother was all you knew.

Before I held you in my arms, your mother held you and never let you go.

Before I sacrificed time for you, your mother gladly sacrificed her body.

Before I consoled you when you were upset, your mother consoled you with just the beat of her heart.

Before I comforted you when you were restless, your mother comforted you with just the sound of her voice.

Before I could do anything for you, your mother gave everything for you.

Your mother is the reason I hold you today.

Before you were even a twinkle in my eye, you were in your mother's heart. Your life, your safety, and your very existence depended on her. Something I'll never be able to repay.


It will take a long time for you to understand the weight, the depth and the immeasurability of your mother's love for you. But someday, when you have children of your own, you will understand what I now see so clearly.

So, I'll hold you tight. But I'll hold your mother tighter because my love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother's love.

This essay was previously published here.

What would bath time be without rubber duckies? Probably not as much fun—but also a whole lot cleaner, according to a study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

That's because it turns out those squeaky toys are far from squeaky clean thanks to “potentially pathogenic bacteria" in four out of the five bath toys examined by researchers.

For the study, Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys collected from random households as well as six toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. They found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm" on their inner surfaces. What's more, 56% of the real-use toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build up. ?


Although the researchers note exposure to bacteria and fungi may have some benefits, the strong existence of grime in bath toys is still concerning. They note, “Squeezing water with chunks of biofilm into their faces (which is not unexpected behavior for these users) may result in eye, ear, wound or even gastro-intestinal tract infections."

Besides tossing all your bath toys, what can parents do?

The researchers say more experimental work is needed. But, for starters, it doesn't hurt to remove water from the toys after usage or give them a good, regular dunk in boiling water. The researchers also said they would like to see more regulations on the polymeric materials used for many bath toys.

There is, however, one simple solution—it just comes at the cost of rubber duckie's squeak. “In fact, the easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole," the researchers say of toys like this water-tight duck. “But where is the fun in that?"

[A version of this post originally appeared April 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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