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How to have a career, be a mother—and *not* lose your mind

Sometimes I get breathless from running around the house to get the kids ready in the morning, and then running around at work, and then running errands and then running home to take care of the kids again at night. Sometimes it feels like I’m chasing the carrot of “being done” but I’m on a treadmill so I’m not really getting anywhere and to top it off, I’m hyperventilating.


When I get to this point, I turn to a few strategies that I’ve employed in the past that give me a bit of breathing room.

1. I determine my non-negotiables

There are certain activities and chores around the house that I know I HAVE to do—like pay the bills and feed my children. Those are mandated by necessity and also child protective services. Other things—like dusting the baseboards or making sure that my two-year-old’s clothes are neatly folded inside her dresser drawers? Those are solely mandated by my personal neurotic tendencies.

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Once I realized the distinction, I began differentiating which of my neuroses needed to be attended to and which ones didn’t. I do not have the energy to tackle them all on a daily basis. I realized that while I need to have all of the dinner dishes rinsed clean (non-negotiable), I can allow them to sit in the sink until the next day (negotiable.) I need to have all of my kids’ laundry washed, dried and put away on the weekend (non-negotiable) but I’m okay with just tossing the tiny shirts and pants into a drawer without folding them (negotiable.)

It’s not that I don’t LIKE everything to be neat and tidy and perfect, but feeling like I NEED everything that way is just setting myself up for utter exhaustion and disappointing defeat. I pick one or two non-negotiables each weekend (as those needs sometimes change) and have three permanent weeknight non-negotiables—the dishes need to be rinsed after dinner, the kids need to brush their teeth before bed and my coffee pot needs to be prepped ahead of time so all I have to do was push the button in the morning.

You might notice from this list (or by visiting me in my home) that vacuuming my floor is not a non-negotiable. It’s not that I don’t like a freshly vacuumed rug—I REALLY DO. But I will no longer be held hostage by fuzz on the floor or matted down footprints.

2. I schedule time to do what makes me happy

This is my life, right? The only one I’m going to get. I remind myself of this on the regular. Being a parent involves making sacrifices but it doesn’t mean I have to let go of everything I enjoy. I deserve to smile for reasons other than those related to my children. And they deserve to see that I am able to do that, too.

As a working mom, I do not want to waste my free moments NOT doing something I love. I do not worry about whether what I choose to do is hip or cool because I don’t have time for that nonsense. My hobbies are what make me happy and keep me sane(ish). Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the time—which is why I absolutely schedule this stuff into my planner.

I do not care if someone peers at my weekly spread and notices I have “doodling mandalas” or “drinking a glass of wine while reading frivolous fiction books” scheduled in for 8pm next Monday. If I did, I suppose I could always label it “self care.”

3. I figure out what I can let go of

At work and at home. Periodically, I assess my level of productivity and level of stress. If I’m feeling overextended I run through the list of everything on my plate—is there a committee that I’m on that I can retire from? Is there a task I can do less often? Doing things a certain way over an extended period of time doesn’t mean I have to keep doing them that way forever.

I’ve learned to avoid explaining why—something many of us women unnecessarily feel the need to do. I can now state pretty easily, “I’ve really enjoyed x, y and z, but I’ve decided to put my time and energy into other areas now.” Boom. Done. No need trying to explain to my boss that I really need to spend more time drinking wine and doodling.

4. I do less out of obligation

I’ve stopped doing things out of obligation. I do the things I really want to and I politely decline the rest. Jewelry party? Maybe I order something online, maybe I don’t. School fundraiser? I write a check and skip the spaghetti dinner. Family event? I think long and hard about whether or not I am up to it because I DON’T HAVE TO GO if I don’t want to.

Sometimes I get to the point where my anxiety is so high and my nerves are so shot that I have to schedule in time to sit around my house in my pajamas all weekend—something that looks like I’m doing nothing, but really is spending quality time with my family while recharging my batteries.

When you think about it that way, ‘doing nothing’ is really important. The same rule applies to my children—I don’t sign them up for 50 million extracurricular activities. They don’t need to be entertained or told what to do all the time—it’s good for them to figure out how to entertain themselves. I only regret this decision when they entertain themselves by coloring the walls with permanent marker.

5. I make cooking less of a chore

Cooking is THE WORST, in my opinion. If I wait until 5 p.m. to figure out what I’m making for dinner, my anxiety skyrockets as my blood sugar plummets. I turn into an indecisive psycho and that is the exact opposite of what I’m going for so I remedy this situation by food-prepping each weekend.

I cook up some chicken, hard boiled eggs, roasted vegetables, roasted garbanzo beans and oatmeal breakfast casseroles. Throughout the week I mix and match what I’ve prepared ahead of time with staples on hand—pasta, rice, canned beans, sliced meat, cheese sticks and raw fruits and vegetables. We eat a lot of piece-meal dinners and this usually satisfies my picky toddlers—as long as I place all the foods in a divided tray so none of those things touch each other.

6. I say what I need to before I lose it

If I need a break, I’ve learned that my spouse does not intuitively pick up on my subtle cues. When I’m a sinking ship sending out an SOS, all he sees is a miserable wife. So now, I try to let him know how I’m feeling (LOSING MY MIND) and what I need (THIRTY MINUTES ALONE.) I keep an eye out for his own signals of distress and try not get annoyed when he takes the breaks he needs.

He needs to revive himself after spending three hours on the phone with the cable company and taking the cars into the shop for an estimate just like I do after dealing with screaming kids and spilled milk while he was occupied. Marriage is a delicate teeter-tottering of one person holding it together while the other one gets some downtime.

I grip tightly to my tiny sliver of sanity like someone holding onto the rope in a heated match of tug of war. I get burned here and there, but I keep heaving and pulling to get my hands on just a little bit more.


This article was originally published on Bottle + Heels.


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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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We're only a few months into the new year and there are already some new celebrity arrivals making headlines while making their new parents proud.

If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2020, they've got plenty of high profile company.

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