A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Everyone knows that having a baby will change your life.


Weary parents love to tell the childfree about how they should enjoy their sleep/movies/social life/solo bathroom time now, before kids gobble them all up. There’s so much you can read, and even more unsolicited advice you will receive, about the impact of children on your personal life.

However, it’s rarely discussed how you can proactively address the ways pregnancy and kids will affect your professional life.

As a career coach, I specialize in helping women through these transitions.

Before starting a family, here are a few key things to consider with respect to your career:


1. Timing: When is the best time to get pregnant?

There is no-one-size-fits-all answer.

There are those who say having a kid in your twenties and then focusing on your career is the answer, while others claim the exact opposite. The truth is that it depends on so many different factors, including what professions you and your partner are in or want to be in, as well as your finances and support network.

Even the most demanding career paths can withstand some time off with proper planning and organization.

The key is to determine whether your current company and position allow you the stability and/or flexibility you will need as a parent. If not, begin to examine how you can make a shift toward that goal.

One important caveat to remember is that you may get pregnant immediately upon trying or it may take years if you deal with unexpected infertility. While all aspects of this very personal decision are not within your control, take advantage of those that are and think through the timing.

2. Childcare: Will you stay home, hire a nanny or au pair, use a day care or family care, or some combination of the above?

Although you may change your mind during (or after) maternity leave, it’s helpful to have some sense of how you want to handle childcare.

In fact, some urban day cares allow you to join a wait list before you’re even pregnant!

As with timing, the best arrangement when it comes to childcare is unique to each woman and couple’s circumstances. Ask around and find out what your friends, friends of friends, colleagues and mentors have done to see what might be the best fit for you.

If you plan to stay home for a while, or transition to part-time work, research both the short- and long-term impact that choice might on your career. Reconciling your professional goals with your childcare desires will likely be a process that evolves over time.

3. Health care + maternity leave: What are the policies at your company/in your state?

The United States remains the only industrialized nation not to mandate national paid leave, with only about 11% of workers covered under formal paid leave programs.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for people working at a company with more than 50 employees for at least 12 months.

But what about those who started a job less than a year ago or work at a small company? California, Washington, New Jersey and other states enacted paid leave programs for qualifying parents. Most people use some combination of federal/state programs, sick leave and vacation time to cobble together a leave. This has become a hot-button political issue recently, especially as more private companies are making their leave policies public. Make sure you know what kind of parental leave coverage both you and your partner have.

Additionally, evaluate all available health insurance plans to determine which will provide the most maternity coverage.

Pro tip: Try asking a mom friend in confidence at work about the parental leave policies if you’re not ready to go straight to HR to find out.

4. Get inside info: How have women at your company + in your field handled motherhood?

Get to know other mothers and gain insight into the practicalities of motherhood at your company or in your line of work.

Try to find people at a range of levels to learn about the challenges along the professional spectrum.

One service I love is FairyGodboss. It allows you to research other organizations’ benefits, flexibility and culture as they relate to women’s issues.

If your company doesn’t have programs or policies in place for new mothers, think about creating them yourself. Find a support system in your office or elsewhere to help you navigate the push and pull of being a working mother.

5. Self check-in: Are you taking care of yourself physically + emotionally for pregnancy + childcare?

A pregnancy can be hard on your body, your mind and your spirit. You want to prepare yourself for the changes to come so you and the baby are as healthy as possible.

Many health care providers will tell you to cut back on alcohol, caffeine, late-night partying and all that fun stuff before you even begin trying to conceive, as those habits can hurt your fertility. Begin taking prenatal vitamins before TTC to build up a store of folic acid in your body to support the pregnancy. Getting into good shape before getting pregnant will help you stay active while pregnant as well as bounce back after your baby’s grand entrance.

All these efforts require some time and attention, but they are minimal compared to what lies ahead: the most incredible journey of your life.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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