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I can't do it all as a SAHM—and that's okay

Feed the kids. Get everyone properly dressed (if you're lucky). Educate the kids. Entertain the kids. Cook constantly. Clean constantly. Manage finances. Do the 100th load of laundry that day. Plan all the parties for all the events. Meet mom friends. Join mom clubs. Socialize your kids. Save all the money. Make money. The list goes on and on and on and on.

When I first dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom, I visualized that I would have it all together. I would have our days planned every day, filling them with stimulating and engaging activities.

I would be a part of a huge circle of awesome moms and awesome kids. My house would be spotless and I would look cute every day doing it all.

I truly felt it would be amazing to be home and that I could do it all. News flash: I'm on kid #2, and I do not have my stuff together. I do okay most days, but there are also really hard days.

With a 2-year-old and a newborn, things are hectic all the time. The house is often "spot cleaned," there are hampers of laundry to be washed and hampers of clean laundry to be folded and put away (in the next 7-10 business days).

After chasing my toddler and nursing my newborn all day, I'm pretty sure a bird could mistake my hair for its nest. Let's face it; my appearance is often a hot mess. This is just a chaotic time of life having two littles.

I'm always picking and choosing what to focus on:

Is the house going to be cleaned or are the kids going to have fun?

Is the laundry or the dishes the one "fun chore" I have the kids "help" me with that day?

Am I going to eat, shower, or sleep in the 20 minutes I have of overlapping nap times?

Most days, when I finally put my feet up, I feel like a complete failure. I didn't get any of the perfect mom things done that I had planned that day.

On these days where I only manage to play with my kids, there is one thing that reminds me of my worth: my husband. When he arrives, he always asks about my day and we begin doing chores together. We clean the kitchen and switch off entertaining the kids, and we talk about our workdays. He's always interested in hearing about the silly things our son said and the new toys our baby likes, and he praises me for the work I did being a mom.

Because that's the reality, we both worked all day! My husband worked in an office contributing to medical advancement, and I worked in our home contributing to our children's advancement. Being a team with my husband at the end of the day and having him just as interested in my activities as I am in his reminds me that my work is important, too, even when we play all day.

After spending a lot of my nights feeling bad about my lack of accomplishments each day based on the standards I gathered from society on what I should be able to get done, I realized I was not a failure based on my family's standards.

No, I'm not doing it all, and that's okay.

Because what I am doing is important. It might not be getting all the chores done and teaching my kids a second language, but it's important work, nonetheless. It's important for my kids' development. My value as a stay-at-home mom is not only in the quantifiable output of tasks in addition to child-raising. There is immeasurable value in the indispensable time spent in raising little humans.

I get a lot done in one day. I kiss owies, push swings and teach how to share. I give bear hugs, play chase and tie shoes. I make meals, sing songs and show love to my babies day in and day out.

But no I can't do it all, and I'm not supposed to, despite what society says. As much as I hear the message or believe that "I'm not getting anything done" during my days as a stay-at-home mom, I know that I am doing my most important work being present with and raising my babies. The things I do with my children matter more than checking off everything on my to-do list.

The perfectly planned activities and good hair days can wait. For now, I'm lying in the grass counting clouds with my kids.

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

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MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

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Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

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Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

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Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

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Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

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My belly has been through some things.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yep, severe debilitating pregnancy-related vomiting), the pregnancies of each of my four kids, the 65 pounds of weight gain I have endured with each pregnancy, stretch marks, Occupational Therapy for pregnancy pelvic pain, unmedicated childbirth, and of course, postpartum recovery.

It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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My first son was born via a non-medicated vaginal delivery. I felt like a mama warrior after I delivered him. (I was all—“I am woman, hear me roar!"—and everything.) So when I went into labor with my second son after my water broke at 34 weeks, I knew I would be having a much different experience.

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