Category Archives: Motherhood

17 Genius Parenting Hacks You Won’t Know How You Lived Without

Asha Dornfest has long been known as a master of parent hacks, and now she’s released a book — Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life With Kids.

1. “Organize drawing supplies with a dish drainer.”

"Organize drawing supplies with a dish drainer."

Workman Publishing

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS?!

2. “Turn a bookshelf into a hanging wardrobe.”

"Turn a bookshelf into a hanging wardrobe."

Workman Publishing

Dornfest suggests simply pulling a shelf out and popping in a closet rod for an instant wardrobe.

3. “Help your kid climb into bed with a cookie sheet step.”

"Help your kid climb into bed with a cookie sheet step."

Workman Publishing

Kiddo not quite tall enough to climb into bed on their own? Wedge a cookie sheet under the mattress leaving only about four inches exposed. Voila! A stair!

4. “Trick the public restroom flush sensor by covering it with toilet paper.”

"Trick the public restroom flush sensor by covering it with toilet paper."

Workman Publishing

You know, in case the sound makes your kid scream with terror every time like it does my kid.

5. “Press small clothes with a flatiron.”

"Press small clothes with a flatiron."

Workman Publishing

What better way to keep tiny shirts and suits freshly pressed?

6. “Trim kids’ bangs with nose-hair scissors.”

"Trim kids' bangs with nose-hair scissors."

Workman Publishing

Safer, plus cutting with tiny scissors is way more fun.

7. “Put the ketchup under the hot dog.”

"Put the ketchup under the hot dog."

Workman Publishing

Waaaaaaaay less mess.

8. “Flatten the toilet paper roll to slow its rotation.”

"Flatten the toilet paper roll to slow its rotation."

Workman Publishing

Great for stopping your kid from overzealous paper-pulling.

9. “Expand the waistband of your pre-pregnancy jeans with a ponytail holder.”

"Expand the waistband of your pre-pregnancy jeans with a ponytail holder."

Workman Publishing

This also works if you’re just pregnant with a food baby.

10. “Freeze a sanitary pad to help heal after childbirth.”

"Freeze a sanitary pad to help heal after childbirth."

Workman Publishing

Squeezing something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon can leave you a little sore, if you know what I mean. (You do, it’s awful.) This hack will make any new mom more comfortable.

11. “Reuse a peri bottle as a diaper sprayer.”

"Reuse a peri bottle as a diaper sprayer."

Workman Publishing

If you’re in the cloth diapering game, this one’s an on-the-go lifesaver.

12. “Put socks over footie pajamas to keep feet in place.”

"Put socks over footie pajamas to keep feet in place."

Workman Publishing

Just…genius.

13. “Replace shoelaces with elastic to turn lace-up shoes into slip-ons.”

"Replace shoelaces with elastic to turn lace-up shoes into slip-ons."

Workman Publishing

Because waiting for a kid to tie their shoes can make the difference between being on time and missing an entire event.

14. “Sort breast-milk bottles in six-pack cartons.”

"Sort breast-milk bottles in six-pack cartons."

Workman Publishing

Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!

15. “Use a bottle nipple to dispense medication.”

"Use a bottle nipple to dispense medication."

Workman Publishing

This is so much easier than trying to get a baby to drink from a tiny cup.

16. “Contain dirty tissues with a tissue box trash can.”

"Contain dirty tissues with a tissue box trash can."

Workman Publishing

It’s like a jail for germs!

17. “Slide wooden puzzles into panty hose to keep the pieces in place.”

"Slide wooden puzzles into panty hose to keep the pieces in place."

Workman Publishing

Hot damn, that’s clever. Never lose another letter.

Originally posted by Morgan Shanahan on buzzfeed

27 Weirdly Hilarious Things Sleep-Deprived Moms Have Done

1. “I walked out to my car and strapped my son into his car seat before I realized that I didn’t have pants on.”

"I walked out to my car and strapped my son into his car seat before I realized that I didn't have pants on."

amberlayne

2. “I was so tired I forgot our son’s name. I gestured to the monitor and asked my husband, ‘How’s what’s-his-face doing?’”

"I was so tired I forgot our son's name. I gestured to the monitor and asked my husband, 'How's what's-his-face doing?'"

—Megan O’Laughlin Nordheim, Facebook

3. “I just added that to the list of bodily fluids I had to clean up that night.”

"I just added that to the list of bodily fluids I had to clean up that night."

CBC

“I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and was surprised to find I felt warm and wet. Turns out I was so tired that I was peeing on the couch instead of in the toilet. I had literally pulled down my pants, sat down on the couch, and started peeing as if I were on the toilet.”

steviemimbela

4. “I kept trying to open the front door of my house by pressing the unlock button of my car key.”

27 Weirdly Hilarious Things Sleep-Deprived Moms Have Done
BBC

lindaasaf

5. “I grabbed my husband’s crotch — HARD — as he was rolling over because I thought he was the baby about to roll out of bed.”

"I grabbed my husband's crotch — HARD — as he was rolling over because I thought he was the baby about to roll out of bed."

Maxriesgo / Getty Images

amandamerrillr

6. “I passed out on the couch, then…”

"I passed out on the couch, then..."

NBC

“Upon hearing the baby cry I woke up and started rocking my arm. Was the baby in my arm? Nope, it was the cat who looked at me like I was crazy.”

aarciola13

7. “When my baby woke up in the middle of the night crying I answered the door thinking it was someone ringing the doorbell.”

27 Weirdly Hilarious Things Sleep-Deprived Moms Have Done
Lifetime

brennat40d8d5684

8. “I folded an entire basket of dirty laundry.”

"I folded an entire basket of dirty laundry."

Katarzynabialasiewicz / Getty Images

susiey49a5d840a

9. “During my first month as a new mom I texted my husband (who was in bed next to me) to ask him where he was.”

"During my first month as a new mom I texted my husband (who was in bed next to me) to ask him where he was."

Bravo

— orrainem41d66e44a

10. “I filled a sippy with milk and handed it to the dog. When he didn’t take it I got annoyed and said, ‘Well? Here you go!’ It took me a full five seconds to realize he wasn’t the 2-year-old.”

"I filled a sippy with milk and handed it to the dog. When he didn't take it I got annoyed and said, 'Well? Here you go!' It took me a full five seconds to realize he wasn't the 2-year-old."

Lisa5201 / Getty Images

j4482fba1e

11. “Where’s the baby?!”

27 Weirdly Hilarious Things Sleep-Deprived Moms Have Done
HBO

“One night I realized my whole family was in the room with me but no one was holding the baby. Panicked, I yelled, ‘Where’s the baby?!’ My husband looked straight at me and said, ‘Um, honey, you’re nursing her.’”

jodiecoxs

12. “I left the house with my nursing bra on both sides flopped down.”

"I left the house with my nursing bra on both sides flopped down."

E!

tarahnatashaf

13. “So embarrassing.”

27 Weirdly Hilarious Things Sleep-Deprived Moms Have Done
NBC

“I was breastfeeding my oldest in my living room wearing only a bra and sweats. There was a knock at the door so I got up to answer it with my breast still hanging out of my bra. The UPS guy was shocked and kept looking away. I didn’t even realize what I’d done until hours later.”

elizabethkerperienk

14. “After a long night I had to run to the drug store. I sat at a red light for what seemed like forever — I even swore at a car that honked at me — until I realized it wasn’t a red light. It was a stop sign.”

"After a long night I had to run to the drug store. I sat at a red light for what seemed like forever — I even swore at a car that honked at me — until I realized it wasn't a red light. It was a stop sign."

Fox

—Kay Calhoun, Facebook

15. Oh. no.

Oh. no.

20th Century Fox

“After pumping milk at 3 a.m. I walked into the kitchen and dumped it all down the drain. I screamed the second I realized what I did. I’d gone into zombie-cleaning mode without thinking.”

—Kelly Lynch, Facebook

16. “In the middle of the night I tried to change my daughter, but ended up putting a clean diaper on over the dirty one.”

"In the middle of the night I tried to change my daughter, but ended up putting a clean diaper on over the dirty one."

keshetchayaz

17. “I had to go a whole day at work like this:”

"I had to go a whole day at work like this:"

oodlesofnoodles

18. Oops.

27 Weirdly Hilarious Things Sleep-Deprived Moms Have Done
TLC

“My oldest wasn’t even two when I had my second child. That first week was a blur. One night I got up to feed the baby and heard snoring as I walked past the kitchen. Turns out I’d forgotten to take the older one out of her high chair and she’d fallen asleep, using her spaghetti as a pillow.”

lindaleeu

19. “I was so sleep deprived…”

27 Weirdly Hilarious Things Sleep-Deprived Moms Have Done
Disney

“I was finally putting myself to bed so I wiped off my makeup and took off my earrings. I was so sleep deprived, though, that I put the dirty makeup wipe in my jewelry box and threw away my earrings.”

—Lyndsey Turner, Facebook

20. “Give the baby back his money!”

"Give the baby back his money!"

Flickr: caitlinator / Via Creative Commons

“One night, after weeks and weeks of no sleep, I genuinely believed the baby was crying because my husband had taken money from him. My husband guided me back to bed and we had great fun laughing about it the next day.”

katej4df533daa

21. “I made coffee without any coffee grinds. It wasn’t until the second sip that I realized I was just drinking hot water.”

"I made coffee without any coffee grinds. It wasn't until the second sip that I realized I was just drinking hot water."

Flickr: meddygarnet / Via Creative Commons

aaronburrsir

22. “I once tried to put on a pull-up instead of underwear after showering. Then I cried when I couldn’t get it on.”

"I once tried to put on a pull-up instead of underwear after showering. Then I cried when I couldn't get it on."

Universal

oliviad20

23. “I walked right up to my husband and put our son’s pacifier into his mouth.”

27 Weirdly Hilarious Things Sleep-Deprived Moms Have Done

— oliviad446b8ead8

24. “I’d been up two days after coming home from the hospital and realized that I hadn’t eaten, so I made frozen waffles — and poured dish soap on them instead of syrup.”

"I'd been up two days after coming home from the hospital and realized that I hadn't eaten, so I made frozen waffles — and poured dish soap on them instead of syrup."

Flickr: aerust / Via Creative Commons

—Lizzie Brantley, Facebook

25. “I kept calling the pediatrician a veterinarian.”

"I kept calling the pediatrician a veterinarian."

Flickr: cookylida / Via Creative Commons

—Stephanie Williamson, Facebook

26. “I tried to hug the guy who came to set up our internet as he was leaving. I was so tired and used to hugging visitors when they left. He looked at me like I was nuts.”

"I tried to hug the guy who came to set up our internet as he was leaving. I was so tired and used to hugging visitors when they left. He looked at me like I was nuts."

Hope Milam / Getty Images

annies402a69e5b

27. “I finished a full grocery shopping trip, then fastened the baby into her car seat and drove away — leaving all of the groceries in the cart in the parking lot.”

"I finished a full grocery shopping trip, then fastened the baby into her car seat and drove away — leaving all of the groceries in the cart in the parking lot."
Gpointstudio / Getty Images

wilheminaintx

Originally posted on buzzfeed.com

20 Reasons You Should Always Call Your Mom

Your mom is and always will be your first friend. Now that you have left the nest, she still wishes you lived under the same roof as her. Although she probably wishes you could stay young forever, she still wants to be around to watch you grow into a loving, caring, and devoted adult.

Your mom has been there for you through everything: childbirth, your first word, your first day of school, your “brace-face” stage, your first heart break, becoming a teenager and sending you away from home so you can become your own individual. And she will be there for much more like your wedding and when you have kids of your own. So when you are wrapped up in your life, remember that there is one person who will do anything to hear every chaotic detail of your life that you are dealing with.

Here are 20 reasons to call your mom:

1. She has helped raise you and get you to where you are.
Without her, you would not be where you are today. She has done everything in her power to raise you to be the best you can be. She deserves to know something as simple as what you did today.

2. She feels alone knowing that you will not always be around anymore.
Whether you have gone through a friendship ending, a tragic moment or a heartbreak, she has been there to comfort you and let you know that you are not alone. Now it is your turn.

3. She needs a girl to gossip with.
She doesn’t have a large group of friends to meet up with everyday to gossip like you do. No matter the age, she will always need a girl to talk to so that should be you.

4. You are more alike than you probably think.
Most girls pick up the same qualities as their moms considering she shares your genes. You can easily relate to a lot of things, especially as you get older.

5. She is always right.
Need advice? She has probably gone through something similar to what you are so she knows exactly what to tell you.

6. She will tell you what you need (and not want) to hear.
She will not beat around the bush or tell you that she agrees with something she does not fully believe in. She will be brutally honest and everybody needs somebody like that in their life.

7. She is the reason you are alive.
She carried you around for months and went through childbirth. That should be enough.

8. She is the one person that truly knows how to comfort you.
Something about being held by your mom and hearing her comforting words is more helpful than some girl who you know does not care as much.

9. She was your first friend.
She will be your friend until the very end and she is the one person you can count on to never leave you.

10. She will make you want to get stuff done.
She will ask you questions that will make you question your priorities. Instead of watching Netflix all day, she might inspire you to clean your room and go outside to get some fresh air.

11. You don’t get to go home to see her as often as she would like.
Living hours away, it is hard to make time to go home. A phone call is the best way to keep in touch when you do not see her as often as you would like to.

12. She will always be on your team.
She will side with you no matter what. Even if you are 100 percent wrong.

13. She understands.
She’s been there and she remembers what she went through when she was in your shoes.

14. She won’t judge you.
She may not agree with half of the things you do or say but she will never judge you.

15. She is your number one fan.
She has always been there cheering you on whether it was for the a dance recital, a spelling bee or preschool graduation. No matter how good or bad, she has and always will be cheering on the sideline for you.

16. She has never left your side.
After the endless amount of horrid and painful mistakes you have made in your life, she still continues to love you endlessly.

17. She just wants to hear your voice.
It is quiet around the house now that you’re gone. She’s been hearing you talk every day for 18 years and she misses that. And your dad’s voice probably getting annoying sometimes.

18. She’s your mom.
SHE’S YOUR MOM!

19. To tell her you love her.
Obviously.

20. One day, she might not be there for you to call.
You never know when your last phone conversation might be with her.

What could you possibly do or say to someone that has given you their entire life? Start by calling your mom … and not just when you need or want something.

 

Originally posted by Kelly Smith on theodysseyonline.com

21 Ways to Always Enjoy Being a Mom

Nudie scarf dancing. That sounds provocative, sexy, even NC-17, right? Well… not exactly. Let me explain.

I was sitting on the beach with my friend Isobel. Now, lounging next to this skinny blond mother of five could make anyone feel depressed by comparison. But I’ve known her since high school and I needed advice. It was hard to admit, but I was going through postpartum depression. I couldn’t stop crying, and I alternated between being barely able to cope with the daily responsibilities of motherhood, and mind-numbing confusion. I was stumped. What did I have to be sad about? Seventeen months after giving birth to my son, Chase, God had blessed me with my daughter, Mackenzie. Instant family, my dream come true. Still, I felt as if I were sinking into toxic black ink.

My dirty secret was this: I just didn’t see what was so great about motherhood. My days felt like a marathon disaster movie, starring me racing around after my kamikaze toddler to prevent him from hurling himself from high places and/or gleefully electrocuting himself. My nights were a study in sleep deprivation, with Mackenzie waking up every two hours and screaming from acid reflux.

I told Isobel about my plight, and she began sharing some of the wonderful ways she whiles away the hours with her brood: family karaoke, eating cookie batter together, firefly-catching contests. I was years away from all of this, but I scribbled the ideas down anyway. Then she mentioned nudie scarf dancing.

I glanced down at my stretched-out stomach, which was lying next to me like an affectionate pet. Surely, she couldn’t be suggesting…

The tears welled up in my eyes. There was just no way I was up for this, no matter how fun it was.

“Not you, silly!” she said, laughing so hard she was snorting. “Daughters! Don’t you have a box of ugly scarves from the ’80s? Put on music to kill time with little girls before their bath!”

Before I knew it, I started laughing, too—at Isobel’s snorting, at myself, and at the thought of the now-undulating pet attached to my midsection with a paisley scarf wrapped around it. I laughed until I was crying, a condition that Dolly Parton has called her favorite emotion.

Then it hit me: Fun was going to show me the way out of my drowning pit. The problem wasn’t that I was exhausted or scared, because motherhood comes with all of that. The issue was that I wasn’t having any fun to offset the exorbitant emotional cost.

So I sent out an SOS e-mail to my other friends seeking advice and ideas for how to enjoy this roller-coaster ride called motherhood. The flurry of answers came back fast and furious, from the funny and dark—”Report yourself to Child Protective Services and have your children taken away for a day or two. Instant vacation!!” wrote Krisha Mahoney, a Boston mother of two—to the practical:

“Plan a playdate with other moms in the park. Bring games and order out pizza,” suggested Karen Hamilton, a mother of three in Rye, New York.

I tried my friends’ suggestions—not the one about turning myself in to the authorities, but many others that you’ll read about below. Slowly, as one good time followed another, the depression began to lift. Chase and Mackenzie were my guides as I let go of my expectations and allowed the fun to take whatever form it fancied.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it can take more than nudie scarf dancing to beat postpartum depression. That’s why, at the same time that I was reaching out to friends, I finally reached out to my ob-gyn for professional guidance. The combination of both helped me get my smile back.I read a magazine article once that said that if we want enduring satisfaction, we have to always be on the lookout for small miracles.Mothers have these small miracles in their lives every day. They are our children. And the time to enjoy them is right now. Here, just a smattering of ways to let the good times roll:

21 ways to enjoy being a mom

  1. When you’re tired, hand your kids a brush, point to your head and tell them to play beauty parlor. When you’re reallytired, pretend that you’re Sleeping Beauty.
  2. Take your mother to a spa. While you’re both getting seaweed wraps, tell her all your favorite memories of growing up.
  3. Take a bath with your infant. Make sure your husband is around for the handoff, so you can relax until the last minute. (Don’t forget to smell your baby right afterward. Heaven!)
  4. At the end of every summer, take a family photo for the holiday card (you’ll be happy to have this accomplished once December comes). Every year, add a framed 11-by-14-inch print to your front hall. Your kids will be proud now and laugh later at the funny styles.
  5. On St. Patrick’s Day, dye the milk and eggs green and turn the furniture upside down so your home looks like total chaos. When your little ones wake up, tell them that the leprechauns came.
  6. The next time you have to go to a boring kiddie activity, invite another mom-friend along. Hide wine in sippy cups for the two of you to nurse undercover.
  7. Play Freaky Friday with your husband and switch roles for a day. Enjoy his renewed appreciation for his Super Mom wife.
  8. In the dead of winter, fix some snacks, get under warm quilts and watch Happy Feet on DVD. Tell your kids you love them even more than the penguins love their chicks.
  9. Go to the beach in the off-season. Throw rocks in the water and collect shells. Put them in a vase and use it as shelf decor in your living room.
  10. Skip the Raffi and Barney. Turn your kids on to Bob Marley, They Might Be Giants, and Gwen Stefani.
  11. Take your baby out to the movies at night. (Infants love the dark, and loud trailers make them snooze immediately.) Then you can sip your soda and munch your popcorn in peace.
  12. Buy yourself that fancy watch, strand of pearls or whatever piece of expensive jewelry you’ve been lusting after. Justify your purchase by rationalizing that you’ll pass it down to your daughter (or son’s wife) eventually.
  13. Take your kids to live music performances from very early ages. Cheap ones outdoors are great to start with in case you need to make a hasty exit (like when a diaper explodes).
  14. Use your kids as an excuse to do the things you want to do, like going to silly feel-good movies, eating mac and cheese for dinner and jumping in the moonbounce. Use your kids as an excuse to get out of things you don’t want to do, like going to a wedding or office party.
  15. Every Mother’s Day, have a picture taken with your kids. Keep the photos all together—along with special cards, ticket stubs, mementos and anything else that makes you feel good about being a mom – in a shoe box. (Of course, you must get those new shoes you love in order to do this correctly.) Every year, look through your Goddess Mom box and see how much your kids have grown.
  16. Give your kids quiet time every day. Let them learn to be by themselves with books, crayons or blocks.
  17. Let your whole family take a day off and hang out in pj’s all day long.
  18. Rent Sex and the City on DVD, and reminisce about the days when you were single and the biggest problem you had was whether the “He” of the moment was going to call. Let the romance of your youth seduce you. Then remember that, despite your freedom, all you really wanted was to fall in love and have beautiful babies.
  19. Pitch a tent in the backyard. Use it as your outdoor reading room. Or when there’s a full moon, plan a family campout with sleeping bags, a transistor radio and s’mores, of course.
  20. Invent a house fairy. Give her a name, and tell your kids that she is always watching them and counting up their good deeds.
  21. Listen for the deep, happy sighs that come after your kids play or laugh really hard. Tuck them away in your heart.

Originally posted by Melina Gerona Bellows on Parenting.com

Raising a Kind Daughter

When my daughter Ella was in fourth grade, she got in the car one day after school and announced her plan to run for student council.

At her school each class has a representative, and I was thrilled she planned to put her name in the hat. Even if she didn’t win, it would be a good experience.

She told me almost every girl in her class was running, as well as one or two boys. As kindly as possible, I mentioned the boys might have an advantage since the girl votes could be split, as that can happen in elections. I told Ella I was proud of her for putting herself out there, and that she’d make a great representative if elected.

The next day after school, Ella mentioned a dilemma she and her friend Annie had “figured out.” On Friday all candidates had to give a speech. Since our family was going to the beach Friday, Ella wouldn’t be there to give hers.

“But Annie had a great idea,” Ella said, referencing one of her best friends, who was in Ella’s class that year. “She suggested that I do a video speech, and she’ll play it for everyone.”

I was very touched by this suggestion from Annie. Why? Because Annie was running against Ella for student council. Yet instead of treating Ella like a competitor, she treated her like a friend.

Ella’s teacher agreed to the video speech, so we made it and sent it on. I didn’t think much more about the election until Friday afternoon around 3 p.m., when I was soaking up an ocean view of the Gulf Coast and received an email from Ella’s teacher. She had great news: Ella had won the election! Her classmates had voted her onto student council.

Our family hugged and congratulated Ella. I could tell by the shy smile on her face what her peers’ vote of confidence meant to her. About ten minutes later, my cell phone rang. It was Annie’s mom (one of my close friends) calling us from her cell.

“We are so thrilled about Ella!” she said, her voice joyful and triumphant. “It was the first thing Annie told me when she got in the car! She’s sooooo excited! We couldn’t be happier if it happened to her!”

The phone call didn’t surprise me, because that was typical for this family. What caught me off-guard was the timing of the call. These were 10-year-olds, after all, and 10-year-old emotions can be fragile. Their automatic instinct isn’t always happiness for a friend who got something they wanted, too. Had the tables been turned, I’m not sure the call would have happened so fast. We may have had to work through a little disappointment — if even for a minute — before focusing on our friend.

But to Annie and her mom, a victory for Annie’s best friend was a victory for Annie. A win for one was a win for both. If you ask me, that’s the perfect illustration of true friendship. It’s how it should work at every level.

All four of my girls have found friends similar to Annie. While no friendship is perfect, I’ve been surprised by some of the kindness I’ve seen at young ages. They know how to look out for a friend. They get it. And can I tell you what their kind friends all have in common? Kind mothers. Time and time again, I’ve become friends with the moms I meet through my children’s beloved friends because they’re good souls. I don’t think it’s a coincidence their children are, too.

We all want to raise kind daughters. We want them to be good friends and have good friends. While I give Annie full credit for supporting Ella — she suggested the video, after all, and was quick to celebrate her win — I know she didn’t pull that mindset out of thin air. She picked it up from her family because that’s how they think.

A win for a friend is a win for both.

Kindness among young girls doesn’t start on the playground or in the locker room — it starts at home. Most notably, it starts with kind mothers raising kind daughters. Our girls see how we treat our friends. They also notice how we treat their friends.

If we treat their friends as competitors, our daughters will, too. If we love their friends like we love our own children, they’re more likely to see them as sisters and part of the family.

Keep in mind it wasn’t just Annie cheering when Ella won student council. It was Annie’s mom, too. She was just as enthusiastic. Can I tell you what that meant to me? Can you imagine the trust that added to our relationship?

Quite honestly, I think it’s rare for both a mother and daughter to instinctively rejoice as these two did. Then again, maybe it just proves the point.

We moms rub off on our girls. Over time our way of thinking becomes their way of thinking. If we want to raise kind daughters, we need to start by being kind mothers.

This post originally appeared on KariKampakis.com.

How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body

How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.

This post originally appeared on hopeave.wordpress.com.

Why You’re Never Failing as a Mother

I’ve gotten a lot of emails from women saying they feel overwhelmed by motherhood. Not in a dangerous way, just in a “I totally suck and I don’t know how I’m supposed to manage all this” kind of way.

To this I say, you’re not supposed to.

If you think about it, if you had a baby thousands, if not hundreds of years ago, you would have had your mother, all your sisters (all of whom were probably lactating) and your nieces all taking care of your baby. They would help with food preparation, show you how to manage and make sure your baby wasn’t eaten by a bear. Your kid’s feet probably wouldn’t have touched the ground until they themselves would be able to carry around an infant.

Back then, the point of a child was to have free labor in the fields and someone to take care of your old ass down the road, and not much more.

As for the past generations that like to tell you that they raised six kids on their own and did it without a washing machine? Well, sort of. Keep in mind child rearing was viewed pretty differently not that long ago and you could stick a toddler on the front lawn with just the dog watching and nobody would bat an eye at it — I used to walk to the store in my bare feet to buy my father’s cigarettes when I was a kid. As a mother, you cooked, you cleaned, but nobody expected you to do anything much more than keep your kids fed and tidy.

My grandmother used to tell the story about how she forgot my mother at the grocery store in the early ’40s. She walked up to the store with my mother sleeping in her carriage, parked it outside with all the other sleeping babies (I’ll let that sink in), went inside to do her shopping, then walked home, forgetting that she’d taken the baby with her. She quickly realized her mistake and walked back and retrieved my mother, who was still sleeping outside the store.

There were no flashcards, there was no sign language (unless you were deaf), there were no organic, free-range bento boxes — your job was to just see a kid through to adulthood and hope they didn’t become an idiot.

Hey, I’m not judging, and I’m not saying one way is better than the other, but I’m just saying that we are part of a generation that considers parenting to be a skill. Like a true skill that needs to be mastered and perfected and if we don’t get it right, we think our kids suffer for it — and that’s hard sh*t to keep up with. That’s not to say other generations didn’t have it tough or think parenting was important, but there just wasn’t the same level of scrutiny that could be liked, tweeted or instagramed all at once.

You are in the trenches when you have a baby. To the untrained eye it seems pretty straightforward and easy — you feed them, you bathe them, you pick them up when they cry — but it’s more than that. It’s perpetual motion with a generous layer of guilt and self-doubt spread on top, and that takes its toll.

Feeling like you also need to keep on top of scrapbooking, weight loss, up-cycled onesies, handprints, crock pot meals, car seat recalls, sleeping patterns, poo consistency, pro-biotic supplements, swimming lessons, electromagnetic fields in your home and television exposure is like trying to knit on a rollercoaster — it’s f*cking hard.

We live in a time when we can Google everything, share ideas and expose our children to amazing opportunities, but anyone that implies that they have it figured out is either drunk or lying (or both), so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Your job is to provide your child with food, shelter, encouragement and love, and that doesn’t have to be solely provided by you either — feel free to outsource, because they didn’t just pull that “it takes a village” proverb out of the air.

Mommy and Me classes, homemade lactation cookies and learning Cantonese is all gravy, and if you can throw them in the mix once in a while, good on ya, Lady. I have about 9,000 things I’ve pinned on Pinterest and I think I’ve done four of them, which is fine by me, because those are above and beyond goodies, and not part of my just-scraping-by norm.

It’s an amazing and exciting time to have a baby right now, but always keep in mind, no one has ever done it like this before — you are pioneers that have to machete through the new terrain. Chin up. Hang in there. And remember, you’re doing a great job.

This post originally appeared on Pregnant Chicken.

How to Raise Brave Girls

On my 40th birthday, my daughter Maddy, 10 at the time, gave me a handcrafted birthday voucher on which she wrote: “This vowcher lets you be my gest at the Oscars when I am nomnated for best actres.” (I figured she stood more chance of that than winning the national spelling bee!)

I’ve tucked it away for safekeeping until that day arrives. And if it doesn’t, that’s OK, too. I just love that she wasn’t afraid to dream big.

Too often, somewhere between wearing tiaras and leaving school, we dial down our dreams and reset our sights as the realities of the real world crush in on us. The hurdles are higher, the competition tougher and the disappointments bigger. Sticking with goals that minimize the sting of rejection and risk of failure seems like the better, less painful option.

But it never is. And it never will be. And if you have a daughter, there’s nothing more important you can do to enable her to thrive in life than helping her grow into the bravest version of the woman she has it in her to be.

Here’s how.

1. Encourage her to dream big. I was only a little older than Maddy and growing up on a dairy farm in rural Australia when I told my parents I wanted to a journalist, like the ones on “60 Minutes.” My mother said I didn’t read the newspaper enough. It was true. It only occurred to me years later that we never got one.

While we each walk a different path to parenthood, we must all be careful not to let our own experiences, including our disappointments, hurts and unmet aspirations, dampen the ambitions of our daughters. Sure, not everyone will be the next Cate Blanchett or Hillary Clinton, but better to aim high and fall short than to risk our daughters one day looking back on their lives and wondering ‘What if?’.

2. Embolden her to take risks. Each of my three sons has had at least one broken bone (one of them has had three!) My daughter, like me, hasn’t had one. I’ll admit it’s a limited data set, but it’s also good a reflection of how boys and girls differ: boys, in my experience, are physically rougher and more comfortable taking risks.

You could argue girls are simply “more sensible,” sparing us the gray hairs we get watching our sons hurtle down hills on their skateboards and bikes — “Look mom, no hands!” But while boys are more partial to stitches and plaster casts, by adulthood, they’re often also more resilient when knocked down, more comfortable exiting their comfort zone and more adept at taking risks — and not just physical risks, but psychological ones. This gives them an edge in business and life because let’s face it, everything worthwhile demands risk of some sort.

Research validates this. Despite our daughters doing better at school and university relative to our sons, once they get into the workplace, women are less confident, more cautious and less likely to:

  • Pursue stretch roles
  • Challenge authority
  • Negotiate salary or conditions
  • Promote themselves or ask for a promotion

All of these things require risk in some way — risk of rejection, criticism, looking foolish, falling short or outright failure. Which is why giving your daughter a gentle push outside her comfort zone can sometimes be the most loving thing you can do for her, because it helps her to realize she can do more than she think while building self-confidence to handle bigger challenges.

Protecting her from the pain of failure or sting of rejection doesn’t set her up to thrive in the bigger game of life, it deprives her from acquiring the skills to live it well.

3. Teach her to speak bravely, even if she gets called bossy. Facebook CFO Sheryl Sandberg believes we should #BanBossy, but, while I love her Lean Inmessage, on this count, I think she has it wrong. We need to encourage our daughters to embrace bossy, not ban it. (You can read the Forbes column I wrote on this here.)

Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m not advocating for bossiness or any behavior that pulls people down. But I strongly believe we must encourage our daughters to own their right to express their opinion, be confident in standing their ground and to take the lead when others aren’t.

It takes courage to say something that may rock the boat. It’s why women, wired to forge connections but loathe to disrupt them, so often don’t. But when we stay silent for fear of ruffling feathers, we implicitly teach those around us that we are OK with the status quo.

Starting in the schoolyard and continuing throughout her life — in the workplace, friendships, and at home — your daughter will encounter people who will to pressure her, intimidate her and devalue her. She needs to know that she has to take responsibility for standing up for herself and, starting from the time she can talk, encourage her to practice doing just that. As I wrote in my book Brave, we build our bravery every time we act with it.

4. Continually remind her she is lovable and worthy, no matter what. Of course it’s hard to be brave and stand up for ourselves when we don’t believe, truly believe, that we deserve better. Which is why, above all else, our daughters need to know, beyond any doubt, that they are deeply loved andinfinitely lovable — even when they’re behaving anything but.

Girls who don’t grow up believing in their inherent worth develop into women who spend their lives unconsciously searching for validation — from friends, strangers, lovers and losers alike. Setting your daughter up to forge genuinely loving, respectful and rewarding relationships begins by having her know that she is deserving of love, worthy of respect and that she should never settle for anyone less. Ever!

5. Help her define herself beyond beauty, brands or brains. Right from the get-go, there’s enormous pressure on anyone born with a vagina to conform to the idealized images created by marketers and reinforced by mass media. Refusing to conform to that pressure is a life-long challenge for women everywhere at every age.

We give our daughters a head start when we actively nurture what makes them unique, accept them for who they are and don’t pressure them to be someone they’re not! That requires regularly reminding them not to measure their worth by how good they are at sports or math or music, by their complexion or body shape, the brands they wear, the parties they’re invited to or by how many followers they have on Instagram. And certainly not by their ‘boyfriend’ status!

Nothing can diminish our daughters fragile sense of self faster than believing she has to reach some external measure of success to be worthy or ‘enough’; nothing can build her bravery more than knowing she is good enough just as she is.

6. Model the bravery you hope to inspire. Your daughter may not listen to what you say, but she notices everything you do. Nothing will teach her how to be brave better than what she learns each time she sees you being brave yourself.

So, as you think about how to raise your daughter to be a confident and courageous woman — sure of herself and resilient under pressure — begin by considering where you need to practice a little more bravery yourself. Any time you tip toe around an awkward conversation, allow someone treat you poorly, avoid taking a risk for fear of failure or let other people’s opinions matter more than your own, you’re missing an important opportunity to teach your daughter how to be brave.

Speaking of which, my daughter Maddy, now 15, is heading to LA in the summer to do an acting course. I’m sure Hollywood won’t look quite so glamorous up close. And while it’s brave of her to go, it’s also brave of me to watch her. One way or another, we’ll both grow braver from it.

originally by Margie Warrell