You're a mom, but if you're anything like us, Mother's Day feels more like a time to celebrate the woman who raised you than a time to hint around for gifts (though, admittedly, a few gifts would be nice). If you're looking to do something beyond the usual flowers-and-card routine, we've got some great ideas for new traditions that will last for years to come. From an annual girls' retreat to a standing date to learn all her secrets, these ideas will make Mother's Day more special for both you and your mom.
Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post about parenting advice from around the world.
"To find the most awesome teenagers you can and interrogate their mother as to how she parented them. Then do that!" — Karyn Van Der Zwet, New Zealand
"When my first child was born, the nurse midwife told me not to get into the habit of overextending yourself. The "master" (she means husband) in your life will come to expect that and take it for granted. Especially at first, do what you can do and "remove the hand" from rest. (That's a Japanese way of saying to let it go.) I should have listened to her; it would have made my first couple of years as a mother much easier." — Melanie Oda, Japan
"Remember that whatever it is you're going through, it will pass. This little piece of advice has helped me endure the tough times and savor the good times." — Dee Harlow, Laos
"Let them figure out the solution, don't always give it to them." We are too quick to help our kids figure out life's puzzles. We try and solve every argument they have and end up with them coming to us for every little thing. Sometimes, we just need to stand back and let them figure it out. — Mama B., Saudi Arabia
"Don't make sleep a goal. Just enjoy it when you can get it. Considering my newborn stayed awake for eight-hour stretches and didn't sleep through the night, constantly hoping and expecting sleep would have made me miserable. Instead, I just slept when I could. It made a huge difference to my sanity." — Carol, Canada
"My mum, when I was a frightened and very tired new mother said, 'No-one will ever know your child better than you do. Trust your instincts.' It's gotten me through every challenge with my daughters so far." — Sophie Walker, United Kingdom
"Someone once told me to do the best I know how, then leave the rest to God. Whenever I go through tough periods of change and tantrums, I try to step aside and re-focus on the bigger picture—my end goals, vision and hope for my family." — June, Singapore
"Back when I was a clean freak (which to my husband's chagrin has passed), my grandmother would tell me, 'If it's a choice between cleaning your house or playing with your kids, play with your kids because they are so much more important.'" — Susie Newday, Israel
Many moms don't always feel like there's time to deal with stress and grief because we need to stay strong for our children. As Circle of Moms Rebecca T. voices in the face of a number of recent losses: "How do you cope with your responsibilities as a mother, partner, and any other important roles you have (like work, etc.) and still deal with these kind of challenges?"
When my grandmother died a few weeks ago, I faced the same internal question. Though I know I was lucky to have her as long as I did, and my kids were so lucky to know their great-grandmother, it still hit me hard. What hit me even harder was the realization that as a mother, I wasn't sure how to make time to mourn.
Still, I did something that was unprecedented for me — I took time off to grieve. Here's what I learned about navigating grief while still being a mom to your kids.
People say females are the stronger sex since they birth babies. But, are women warriors because they deal with the aches and pains of pregnancy and labor or because they can look in the mirror after delivery and deal with its physical aftermath? There are lucky mothers who end up with amazing postpartum bods, but the masses have reflections that are a far cry from their pre-baby physiques. Check out some of the common surprises.
One of the most amazing parts of motherhood is watching the bond that develops between your children. Siblings share a special relationship unlike any other, so it's essential to emphasize that from the get-go. I can still remember the excitement of taking a "Big Sister" class at the hospital where my brother was born . . . and that was more than 26 years ago.
If you're expecting a second lil one, consider a creative way to introduce your child to the family's newest addition. Here, some tried and true methods for ensuring that the initial meet and greet is a smooth, successful, and special one.
Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Lindsay Weiss about keeping your sanity through motherhood.
Some days I feel like I’m a washing machine cycle — load, wet, wash, rinse, repeat — only the settings on my cycle are something like: wake (too early), feed kids, dress kids, entertain kids, feed kids, drive kids, entertain kids, feed kids, bathe kids, tuck kids in bed, repeat.
I’m a mom robot and I’m currently on auto-pilot. And if I have to make one more meal, clean up one more mess, fight about one more article of clothing or sit through one more soccer practice I might combust.
When I start to feel like this (which, if I’m being honest happens at least once a month), I get an urge to rebel. To do something crazy. Since I’m a responsible adult and 8 months pregnant, my options are limited so I usually focus on doing something that makes me laugh out loud. You know, guffaw. Last night was one of those nights and, as I was singing at the top of my lungs in my car (alone), I realized I do several weird and quirky things that help me keep my sanity as a mom:
(Please don’t laugh as I realize these aren’t even remotely rebellious. In fact, they’re a pitiful excuse but indulge me anyway.)
- Wearing crazy socks underneath my boots — In the fall and winter you can always find me in jeans and riding boots. They’re cute jeans and boots, I promise, but I don’t get fancier than that. And every single day I giggle when I put on the craziest, often mismatched knee socks underneath them. Think Rainbow Brite on the left, black and white polka dots on the right. Rudolph on the left, bright orange camoflauge on the right. I love it – silent rebellion.
- Eating dessert for lunch or dinner (or both) — you’re probably not shocked to learn I have a major sweet tooth. While I’m a stickler that my kiddos eat pretty balanced meals, sometimes I skip a healthy meal in lieu of a chocolate cupcake, butterscotch blondie or um, a pop tart if I’m desperate. Silent (and wholly unhealthy) rebellion.
- Rockin’ out in the school carpool line — I have three drop-offs/pick-ups every single friggin’ day of the week…8am, 11:30am, 3:30pm. If you do the math that’s at least 45 min. a day spent in ridiculously long lines. To pass the time, I crank the volume and rock out to great music. The genre varies by day—I did Kings of Leon this morning, Beastie Boys yesterday afternoon, and Footloose before that. I turn it up loud, sing even louder and occasionally break out the air guitar. Now ya gotta cut loose…Silent (well, no one else can hear me) rebellion.
- Getting in touch with my inner Dale Earnhardt — And speaking of all those drop-offs/pickups, there’s a half-mile stretch of smooth, deserted road between my house and the school. Even though I drive like a granny most of the time, I cannot control the impulse to gun it like a NASCAR driver on that open stretch. I already have my excuse ready if someone ever catches me…"I wasn’t speeding, officer…I was qualifying." Silent (except for the sweet torque of my engine) rebellion.
I’m sure there’s more, but these are my most frequent methods of keeping my sanity in check. I may be a mom, but I’m da*n sure not going to lose my sense of humor (or my chocolate).
More great reads from BabyCenter:
6 creative caramel apple recipes
13 signs your newborn is having a very bad day
How do you say no to your baby?
10 amazing homeschool rooms to inspire learning
7 geeky onesies for baby
Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Samantha Schoech about pressure placed on new moms.
By the time my twins were a week old I already knew I was a failed mother. First, I had failed to conceive them "naturally." Then, I had gone into labor too early and undergone a c-section instead of pushing them out my vagina like any good mother would. Nursing my tiny babies was proving to be very, very difficult and pumping was producing these sad little 2-ounce bottles of liquid failure. When I looked at my children in their incubators what I felt was not an overwhelming flood of love like I was supposed to, but a heart-pounding, skin prickling anxiety. I was doing it all wrong and I was deeply unhappy about it.
What I can see now, with six years hindsight, is that I was actually doing it all right. I was doing the best I could with all the love and strength I could muster. The only person I was failing was myself and that was because my expectations were all screwed up.
In her new book, "Why Have Kids?" Feministing.com founder Jessica Valenti takes on our notions about motherhood and decides they may just be the source of parental unhappiness.
In an interview in USA Today Ms. Valenti says:
I think that the ideal of parenting can make people unhappy. It's that this lie that they're being told by society that parenting is one thing — and when parenting is something completely different — that's what makes them unhappy. When you ask most American parents why they want to have kids, it's to bring more joy into their lives. So, when you don't feel that all-encompassing joy, it must be that something is wrong with you. I think it's dissatisfaction that the expectation was different than the reality.
I would add that along with the dissatisfaction is the guilt. If you are not being swept along on a giant wave of joy and fulfillment every waking second, then there is something deeply wrong with you. Add to this all the modern "supposed tos": breastfeeding, baby wearing, superfood making, sign language teaching, job quitting, cookie baking, PTA leading, and you've basically got a recipe for misery.
This is not to say that there isn't incredible joy to be found in raising children. Of course there is. Just that it's probably best to expect the bumps, the bad days and the failures along with the joy.
This holds true not just for parenting, but for almost everything in life: if you have expectations of perfection and unceasing happiness, you will be sorely disappointed. It goes for marriage, it goes for work, it goes for friendship and it goes for motherhood.
That's why I think the absolutely best thing we can do for our fellow and future moms is to tell the truth: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because the real joy in parenting does not come from being perfect, it comes from relaxing and giving yourself room to be human. It comes with the understanding that you will absolutely not be perfect and that this is just fine.
What about you? Did you suffer from unrealistic expectations the first time around?
More great reads from BabyCenter:
Parental involvement doesn't have to include bake sales
13 creepy children's rhymes
5 delicious apple desserts for Fall
7 personalized picks for back-to-school
7 cool hampers for keeping kids' rooms tidy
Source: Flickr User thejbird
That's one mother of an Olympic Games! They're calling the 2012 Olympics the year of the woman, with every participating country sending at least one woman to compete (the US team even has more women than men this year), but it could easily be the year of the mom. Sure, we've all seen — and cried — our way through P&G's "Thank you, Mom" advertising campaign, but in addition to the legion of mothers that have helped prepare their kids for London, there are more moms than ever actually competing in the Games. The US alone is sending 13 moms overseas.
While the "can women have it all?" debate continues to rage on, these nine mamas are proving that it is possible to follow your dreams while simultaneously raising a family. Check out what they have to say on how motherhood has helped their athletic careers.
If you haven't caught Parents on Phones yet, head on over to the latest Tumblr sensation in the parenting world. Much like STFU, Parents — the site that collects annoying parent-themed Facebook status updates — this one posts pictures of parents playing on their phones "when you should be playing with your children." It is certainly a sign of the times.
Now before getting all judgmental, I must admit I've been there. I've looked at emails from work, texts from friends, and Facebook status updates while I am supposedly "multitasking" and simultaneously watching my kids. Riiiiiiight! This isn't something that only happens on suburban playgrounds though. Take a look at the celeb parents who prove we can do more than one thing at a time!
If you haven't read it by now, there's a post that's gone viral written by Amy Sohn about a new breed of moms — ones who hit the town or a night of serious partying along with other unmentionables. Sohn refers to how her friends get together once a month and call each other "Hookers, Sluts, and Drug Addicts." She continues to share details about a recent evening full of drinking, moments of nudity, and potential propositions. Her defense? She and other moms are responding to boredom and their lives evolving, and if acting like a 20-year-old for one night a month makes things seem just a little bit better, it's worth it.
Does Sohn take things a bit too far? Or is it becoming socially acceptable for moms to hit the town with their ladies and let loose with a drunken night out? As a mom of a toddler, I get few and far between nights to go out with girlfriends, and, for the most part, they are spent drinking margaritas at a local bar and then bed by midnight. With Sohn's new book, Motherland, coming out next month, is this just a publicity stunt to drive intrigued readers to prepurchase?
Enjoying a girl's night out is wonderful for any mama, providing much-needed time to dish about the ups and downs of parenting and marriage. But do things need to be taken to such extremes to have a "good time"? What do you think? Is Sohn spot-on with her portrayal of the modern-day mama hitting the town for a wasted girls' night out or just downright crazy?