HERE ARE THE TOP 7 BENEFITS OF HAVING SIBLINGS
The best thing I've ever given my kids is each other.
They may not agree but their friends sure do. They are always telling my kids how much they wish they had lots of siblings to play with. Cue my kids' collective *eye roll*...
The truth is, life in a large family is impressively loud, beautifully messy, and can be complicated... But most of all, it's never boring and crucial life lessons abound around every corner, thanks to siblings.
Here are the Top 7 Benefits of Having Siblings
1. Live Longer. A study found that people who enjoy strong family relationships live longer than those who lack strong family bonds. Adult siblings often support each other emotionally and encourage one another, resulting in improved physical health and overall mental wellness later on in life.
2. Built-In Playmates. My #4 and #5 fight like cats and dogs, every day, and at least one of them will dissolve into tears at least once a day due to some injustice put upon them by their sibling aka arch nemesis. On the flip side, they spend many hours together, every day, building forts, riding their bikes, making up games, building on Minecraft, cracking jokes, cooking, and enjoying their shared favorite mid-morning snack, cheese and grapes.
It isn't all rainbows and unicorns in a house full of siblings but honestly, it's often "unicorny" and "rainbowy" much of the time, thanks to my fabulous daughter who insists that her older brothers sit through episodes of My Little Pony with her (who are they kidding, my boys are HUGE fans of the show).
3. Practical Life Skills. Learning early in life to share things such as your toys, bedroom, food, pets, clothing, and even your parents, makes it easier later in life to master important social skills like compromise, inclusiveness, cooperation, and patience.
If you can nail down regulating your emotions and how to get along with others, starting at a young age, you are ahead of the game. Thank your siblings for the practice.
4. Empathy. No matter how bad a time one (or more) of us is having on any given day, the sight of our youngest baby instantly boosts our mood and brings us out of our own problems and into the happy world of little B. I have seen my older kids instantaneously go from "Cranky Franky" and "Debbie Downer" to "Sibling Super Hero" at the sight of their baby brother or sister in distress.
Even my #4 and #5 will do their best to comfort or encourage the other if they sense they really need it.
The Benefits of Empathy are Far Reaching into Adulthood: Empathy lowers aggressive behaviors; enhances the quality of intimate relationships (marriages), and helps to create and maintain friendships. And countless studies have shown that the practice of empathy fosters the positive and healthy relationships needed to enhance a person's quality of life.
5. Belonging. Having siblings is like belonging to a very exclusive club that you can never get kicked out of.
No matter how quirky and off-beat your sense of humor, your siblings totally get you. No matter how much you geek out on Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Disney Princesses or viral Fortnite dances, your siblings will be your willing (mostly) audience, always. And no matter how epic your tantrum or how serious your sibling infraction, there is always forgiveness.
Sometimes in adulthood, siblings become estranged, but that's not the norm. Siblings are for life. Even if you're not on speaking terms, your sibling will always be family and there is hope for reconciliation.
6. They Make Great Teachers. Older siblings make great teachers.
They can teach the younger siblings "the ropes" of navigating childhood from an older child's fresher, more adventurous, perspective, as opposed to mom's less fun and more cautious approach.
The younger siblings love to emulate their older siblings while the older ones feel good and capable to be leading the younger siblings to greater heights. The older siblings take on mature responsibilities and the younger siblings are exposed to lots of new experiences.
My older brothers often brought me along to places and I learned so much just by observing their interactions with the world. It was a priceless education that I could only have gotten from my older brothers.
7. Friends for Life. When I am gone, my children will have each other to share their collective memories of their shared youth. And I know they will be there for one another as they build new memories with their future families. I hope they will get together with their kids and enjoy being impressively loud and beautifully messy together, once again. And I know that they will have learned enough from one another to handle the "complicated" parts of life with grace, humor, and lots of sibling love.
10 BEST REASONS TO WEAR YOUR BABY
6 babies and many carriers, wraps, and slings later, my absolute hands down favorite for wearing my babies is my beloved Moby Wrap! It is stretchy and comfortable for both my baby and me and they come in an array of colors and patterns. And if this is your first time trying one out, there are countless video tutorials on YouTube on how to wear your baby/toddler.
Wearing my babies are some of my fondest early motherhood memories. Here is a list of the very best reasons to wear your baby!
1. Babies feel safe. Our little ones spend 9 months growing and bonding with us while in our womb. We rock and sway throughout our days and our babies sleep and grow with our every movement, within the warmth and safety of our bodies. Then, the big day arrives when they are separated from their mother into a cold, too bright and very loud world. Even the most tranquil of births is a traumatic transition from womb to world. Babywearing returns to them a much needed sense of safety and security. Wearing them returns babies to their mother's warmth and her unique rhythms (in her movements, heartbeat, and voice) and that is immensely comforting to a baby and the benefits are invaluable to their well-being.
2. They sleep like a boss. We all know babies sleep a whole lot and their absolute favorite sleep spot is curled up in the warm softness of a mama. Babies grow, heal, and develop while they sleep and they sleep up to 16 hours a day. That doesn't mean you have to wear your baby 16 hours a day! Any amount of babywearing benefits both mother and her baby. Sometimes the art of baby napping can elude us and that's especially hard on a sleep-deprived new mom. Baby wearing is a very organic way of napping a baby. They fall asleep effortlessly and sleep deeply and comfortably when worn in a sling or wrap. The structured carriers, in my opinion, are less comfortable and not as cozy as wraps and slings but they are good for when taking long walks, hikes, and for metro travel.
3. Promotes calm and reduces colic and stress. Fussy and colicky babies often calm within minutes or even seconds of being placed lovingly and securely in a wrap. When a baby is so close to a mother, it automatically makes her more attentive to her baby's needs and that promotes calm and reduces stress in babies that may be colicky, fussy, overtired or just need some extra love and attention.
4. Continues bonding between mother and baby after baby is born and out of the womb. We've all seen and experienced babies that cry the moment their mothers step away from them - it causes babies distress to be apart from their mothers. When a baby is worn, they are being reassured that mom is close and near and that their bond is strong and secure. And research shows that people who start off in life with strong feelings of security and healthy bonding with parents are better equipped to become independent and capable individuals than those who had limited opportunities to bond in the early years.
5. Breastfeed publicly in a very private way. I enjoyed breastfeeding my babies whenever they were hungry or needed comforting and sometimes that meant nursing in a public place. I was okay with that and so were my babies. However, I knew that some people were not comfortable with that and that's okay, too. I wasn't out to change the world, I was just out to be out of the house and running errands... Nursing while wearing my babies afforded me both privacy and convenience when out and about. I could even stroll the mall while nursing and none were the wiser.
6. Reduce the risks of flat-head syndrome. Flat-head syndrome is when a baby is repeatedly placed in a resting position on a hard, flat surface and it causes the baby's head to be misshapen and flattened, usually in the back or on the side. Common causes: car seats, cribs, playmats, bouncers, the floor, etc. Wearing a baby reduces the amount of time that they may spend with their soft heads flattening on a hard, flat surface.
7. Maneuver easily through crowds and urban areas. I grew up in NYC and saw mothers maneuver their baby's in strollers up and down whole flights of stairs at subway stations like city-mom gladiators. But if you want to get around in a big city or big crowds (i.e. sporting events, park festivals, airports, school functions, etc.) baby wearing is a safe and secure and mind-blowing fun way to do it for your little one. They get to be eye-level in all the hustle and bustle of busy life and that can be an eye-opening experience for them or they can blissfully sleep through the whole thing and be supremely happy either way. Plus, the convenience for mom can't be beat.
8. Hands-free 'Momming'. Here are some of the things that I did while my babies hung out in the wrap: cook, read with my older kids and homeschool with them, clean, knit, talk on the phone, do my makeup, pop in contacts, and yup, use the bathroom (TMI, sorry).
My girlfriend used to nurse her son in his Bjorn and after nursing, he would nap comfortably in his carrier while she worked at her computer. He had reflux and so nursing and napping in an upright position was ideal. Also, using the carrier freed up mama's hands so that she could work while he napped. It was a win-win!
8. Babies cry less. And in my case, that meant that I cried less, too. No. 8 alone, is reason enough for me to promote baby wearing to all new moms. I suffered from PPD (postpartum depression) after the birth of each of my six babies and hearing them cry was deeply distressing. They cried less and slept well when being worn close to me and that seemed to lower my anxieties as well as theirs. It was immensely helpful for my well-being as much as theirs.
9. A happier baby. I don't know if there is any scientific research to back up my observation but it's true: babies in slings and wraps always seem happy, confident, curious, and at ease with themselves and their surroundings. Who wouldn't want that for their child?
10. Get to know your baby. When you wear your baby and toddler, you get to know them as not just your 'baby' but you get to know them as an individual person, apart from you. Having them so close allows you many opportunities to talk to them and with them and to make plenty of eye contact and engage with them with smiles and coos. All that interaction and communication enforces positive brain and emotional development.
What more can I say? Wearing your baby is such a gift to both you and your baby and ultimately, to society, as your baby grows up.
13 HONEST THINGS I WANT TO TELL NEW MOMS
When new moms-to-be learn that I am a mother of 6, they inevitably ask me if I have any tips or advice for them. In my head, I answer, "YES! LOTS!" But rather than share what I really think may be helpful, I chicken out. I just smile, congratulate them and ask the universally scripted questions and give the always-given answers about pregnancy, genders, and nursery decor. My justification for chickening out is that I don't know if they are truly sincere about wanting advice or are they simply wanting to have a light conversation about their impending joyful event. The truth is, 20+ years into my marriage and 6 kids on, I have a lot to share but I don't know how to go about it so I'm writing this post. If you are pregnant for the first time or recently joined the motherhood journey, this is for you, sweet mama.
1. TAKE THE EPIDURAL. Technically, this would be sound advice for a new 'mom-to-be' and apply to a hospital delivery, if that's your plan. "Take the epidural." Those wereDr. Mom's very first words when I dropped by the hospital to visit her and her sweet new baby boy. Our due dates were three weeks apart and throughout our pregnancies we shared, in great detail, everything about birthing that we could divine from the countless parenting books we poured over. In the end, we both opted for the epidural and we've never regretted it. As a mother of six, after baby #1, I went into the delivery room a little wiser, a little busier, and a whole lot more tired. Are my babies at home doing okay with the sitter? Did I leave good instructions? What important things did I forget to do in my sleep deprived, mom-brain state? Did I pack my newborn's going-home outfit and the car seat? Oh no, I forgot to fold the laundry! I haven't had a good night's sleep in months... The epidural allowed me to rest, relax, and reset for the big game coming up in the labor and delivery room and was invaluable in my birthing experience and recovery. Trust me, it still hurts and you get the full birthing experience in spades, from the contractions, birthing, and to the recovery. In addition, my babies came into the world healthy and were not negatively impacted by the epidural. Ain't no shame in your birthing game whichever way you get that baby out, mama. The birthing books suggested scented candles, lotions and oils, light reading materials, a journal, easy-listening playlist, dry crackers, and a birthing ball as essentials for the big day. I prescribed to this and stuffed many of those items in my first hospital "go-bag". I used none of them. Just sayin...
2. YOU NEED MORE SLEEP. No amount of pre-baby prep, research or rest can prepare a new mom for the insanely small amount of sleep she is going to have to survive on for the next 6 to 18 months. You know you're tired and should nap but there's a hundred more important things that need your attention when the baby's asleep. Sorry, but no. Make sleep a priority on your to-do list and watch everything else fall into place a whole lot faster and with more ease. I often hear people say, "get rested up now because once the baby arrives..." That is useless advice because sleep, like food, is something you need daily. It's not like we could stockpile hours of sleep today and use those extra hours months from now. The chronic lack of sleep is going to hurt, and make you feel out of sorts. Symptoms of chronic lack of sleep include: forgetfulness, poor judgment, exhaustion, chronic crankiness, depression, impatience, and over-eating, to name a few. The negative effects that stem from chronic lack of sleep will create a multitude of problems in your marriage, self-image, work, and even caring for your precious new little one. However, good sleep has the potential to solve or avoid many of those problems and create greater levels of happiness and productivity within yourself and your home. Try to catch a nap when the baby naps. And when your husband is spending time with the baby, drop that full laundry basket like a bad habit and take a nap, instead. And if possible, when a friend or relative drops by to help, actually let them help while you take a nap - don't play hostess or attempt to be superwoman. There is time for all of that later, girlfriend. Sleep - it's one of the very best activities you can do as a new mom.
3. IT'S OK TO SUPPLEMENT. Breast milk, formula, breast/bottle, or a combination are all excellent ways to feed a baby. Too often, we moms shame one another or even punish ourselves(!) for the choices we make on how we feed and nourish our babies. I was a bottle fed baby and I turned out kinda amazing and so did countless other adults walking around on the planet. The same can be said for people who were breastfed. Formula is not fast food or arsenic in a can, so get a grip and stop shaming other moms (or yourself) for trying to feed their babies. Let's not find reasons to divide this sacred sisterhood of ours but rather celebrate the worthy work we are all doing as mothers by feeding our babies to the best of our abilities with a common goal - to grow our babies into healthy, vibrant, happy little humans.
4. LOSE THE WEIGHT. As a mom of 6, I don't say those three words flippantly. I am not advocating self-unaccpetance or trying to put pressure on a new mom to attain impossible standards. You don't have to drop the 25 or 90 pounds in the first three months but have a plan and set small doable goals to gradually move towards freedom from the excess weight and obtain a fit and healthy you. I am going to be very honest here - people will tell you that you look great (and new moms always do so they are absolutely right) but once the months pass and the glow of new motherhood fades, if you don't drop those pounds, you are going to feel bad about yourself and a day will come when you wonder, "what happened to me?" When that day comes, have a good answer for yourself: "self-care is not a selfish pursuit nor a frivolous one. It is worthy and so is your health." The hard journey back to a lighter, fitter, healthier version of yourself helps to erase sluggishness, low self-esteem, and other negative effects perpetuated by keeping the extra pounds. Just remember, it's called "baby weight", not "forever weight." There's no reason to carry all that around and feel bad about yourself. Pro Mom Tip: when my little ones were around 6 months old, I would strap them onto my back, and walk (gently, of course) on the treadmill while my older kids did schoolwork or played in the yard. Sometimes we'd go for walks as a family but that took more work and scheduling on my part and that didn't fit in well with our daily lessons. The treadmill was convenient and I could do it most days. Planks, push-ups and leg-lifts take only minutes but are very effective and you don't have to spend time out of your busy schedule changing into and out of workout clothes.
5. BREASTFEEDING HURTS. It does, girlfriend. I have read countless articles by professionals that say breastfeeding NEVER HURTS if you do it right. Take it from a homeschooling mom of 6 and her many girlfriends who nursed their babies - breastfeeding in the beginning stages hurts. The first few days, no pain. But once your baby gets stronger and you nurse more frequently and for longer periods, you will run into the "ow factor". The good news is that it's only for a short time and there are simple and easy things you can do to minimize the pain and discomfort. A good latch (a wide open mouth like a suction around the areola instead of pursed lips clamped onto the base of the nipple - if your baby is attached onto the nipple like it's a straw, then that's gonna hurt badly and reap poor feeding results so gently break the suction with your finger and try again for a wider mouth opening. Think "chug", not "sip".) Also, there are many creams and ointments available for new nursing moms. You won't need them for the entire time that you nurse your baby, only in the beginning until your breasts adjust. After a short transition period, you'll ease into a beautiful nursing experience with your little one. Sometimes, a baby has a physical impediment in their mouth that may prevent proper nursing - check with your pediatrician and/or a lactation consultant if your baby seems to be struggling to latch naturally.
6. STOP CRITICIZING DAD. He's not your assistant or an employee. It's not his job to hit parenting goals and meet parental performance standards set by you. He's going to do things very differently, not necessarily 'worse' than you or 'inferior' to your ways. Just 'different'. He's dad. Let him Dad. Let him do his awesome dad thing. Be generous with your gratitude and compliments when he's doing great in his new parenting role and be very frugal with the criticism. Take a deep breath, sister, and bite that sharp tongue and use it sparingly when criticizing the love of your life. He's probably doing better than you think he is - let him keep going. Don't harsh on his dad flow.
7. YOU REALLY DON'T NEED ALL THAT STUFF IN YOUR DIAPER BAG. Here's a general rule to follow when packing for a typical day out: *If your diaper bag weighs more than your baby, it's time to re-assess the essentials* When Baby #2 arrived, I admittedly panicked at the prospect of being a mother of 2. I felt that I had not quite gotten the hang of one baby and now I was in charge of 2... my overly compensated diaper bag reflected my anxieties as I packed less for a day at the park and more for a total catastrophic zombie apocalypse. Less is more when it comes to packing your diaper bag. Pro Mom Tip: get the travel size everything; toss the wet bag (unless you're actually going somewhere "wet" - unless you like to have an extra thing to have to wash, dry, and have to remember to place back into the diaper bag, later... too many steps) and instead, use large ziplock baggies or recycle plastic shopping bags - "toss it" and "forget it"; limit the toys (too much bulk) and pack a lip gloss for yourself that stays in the bag at all times (you are still a hottie, after all.)
Pro Mom Tip: I use these bag organizers for my diaper bags as well as my regular bags to keep organized. Click this affiliate link to amazon if you want to learn more.
8. YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE ARE GOING TO FIGHT MORE. It's going to happen so just remember to fight fair. Keep your words clean, and don't hit below the belt by saying or doing something you can't take back when all the dust settles. When a baby enters a relationship for the very first time, he's not the only one who has to grow up. Mom and dad are going to be forced to grow, stretch, and learn to forgive all sorts of new stuff that never came up before the arrival of a precious little one. The couples with a faster learning curve will stay together longer and share greater joy and prosperity within their family.
9. BABIES AREN'T GALLONS OF MILK, THEY DON'T SPOIL - LOVE THEM HARD. You can never love on a baby "too much" but sadly, it's possible to love on them too little. If anyone tells you not to spoil your baby, smile, and tell them to back the hella up while you love on your baby.
10. BABIES ARE SIMPLE. MOTHERHOOD IS NOT. Before I had babies and kids of my own, I loved everyone else's little ones with ease. It was so effortlessly fun and easy to love on them and play with them and see their quirks as adorable. Then, I had my first baby and things became complicated as I took my place in the motherhood journey. I instantly felt a vulnerability and huge responsibility as a new mom in charge of protecting and raising my own child. I would often overthink every decision and plan until it all became unfun and purely exercises in efficiency and safety. Don't complicate things or second guess all your moves because there are many excellent ways to be a good mom and you're probably making many good choices every single day for your baby. Overthink less and enjoy yourself more.
11. YOU WILL FEEL LIKE A FAILURE. All the good moms do. Keep going, mama. You are doing amazing and your fails yesterday have no place in your mom game today. Keep a clear head and remember that if you learn from your failures, they will contribute towards your successes. Don't beat yourself up over it - take away something valuable that you can pass along to your future self, like, tomorrow.
12. SEX WILL TAKE EFFORT. Easing back into the swing of things in the sex department will take time for a new mom as you heal and recover physically. That's totally normal. But also, juggling many new responsibilities such as breastfeeding, caring for your new baby, significant sleep loss, and returning to work as a working mom, can be overwhelming mentally and emotionally and kinda suck the fun out of sex for a while. Don't worry, once you start getting better sleep and start feeling more like yourself, everything gets easier and familiar again, including sex.
13. WELCOME TO THE SISTERHOOD. If you haven't heard it yet today, let me be the first to say it, "Welcome to the sisterhood. You are doing amazing and your little one is lucky to have you for a mom. Keep swimming and thanks for taking precious time out of your day to read this. I hope it helps you."
9 SIGNS YOU'RE A GOOD MOM
1. You pee in installments. Moms with little ones know what I’m talking about. You have a distressed, crying baby on the other side of the bathroom door, wondering what you could possibly be doing in there that could be so urgent that you would put her down for a NY minute. Who are we kidding, that door is WIDE open…
2. You keep your language G-rated. I generally don’t curse but as an adult with plenty of stressors, sometimes things get a little overwhelming. In those moments, I sometimes find myself close to bursting a blood vessel trying keep my language Disney-friendly and my tone downright lady-like. But in the peace and quiet that comes after the kids are in bed, I am glad that I kept my temper cool and my words warm.
3. You lie to your kids. Sometimes I lie to spare their feelings. When I saw that my 5-year old daughter had chopped off a chunk of her bangs right down to her scalp, I wanted to grab my face and scream like the boy in the Home Alone movies. She had a shaky look on her sweet face when she asked me how she looked. Internally, there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth as I grieved the loss of her sweet blond locks and I had to adjust quickly to the drastic change in her appearance. I quickly smiled as I hugged her and said, "you look beautiful, as always. Are you trying out a new look?" We both laughed. She was relieved and
were knocked down by giant dragons that stomped through the forest at night. Suddenly, my kids now had a fantastic interest in what just a moment ago was nothing but trees and a dirt path. Now, it was the home of "dragons" and they were in search of lairs and possible dragon sightings and they began telling tales about mythical dragon clans. Another reason I may lie to them is to protect them from a scary situation and reassure them. Sometimes, a little white lie is kinder than the truth and oftentimes, more interesting.
siblings, dad, chores, work, and countless activities. So, I try to limit how much of me they have to share with my phone.
6. You’re nice to their dad. Marriages are complicated and things can get messy between mommies and daddies. Before kids, my scotsman and I could see a fight through from beginning to end without interruptions. It was beautiful. After kids, it’s like trying to eat a Hotpocket over the course of days… it starts out scalding hot and super salty but by the time you whisper, text, and hiss your retorts back and forth so as not to alarm the kids, it assumes an unappealing taste and crustiness so you just want to toss it and move on to better things. In the midst of it all, you stay civil and protect your kids' affection for their dad and you don't do or say things about him that would hurt them.
7. Your kids get angry at you. You make the hard parenting choices and do right by them even when you know they’re probably gonna hate you for a while. Sometimes, 'no' is the most loving answer, even if it's not the most popular one.
team. I also carried around a small army of planner pens that clattered around in my bag like loose teeth, to constantly update my planners, and to fill out countless doctor, camp, church, and co-op forms. I collected every craft and glitter project and stuffed them quickly in my bag, in no particular order, so that I could give my kids my undivided attention when I picked them up. And yes, sometimes my loose powder would explode in my stuffed bag. And as a baby rite of passage, each of my kids would inevitably discover my blood red lipstick and very lovingly and carefully open the tube to examine it and then just as carefully return it back into the bag WITHOUT THE CAP.
The thing is, my bags are kinda mess, sorta cluttered and look lived in and I couldn't be prouder of me and my bags because they reflect how hard I hustle every day for my kids. Sometimes, I even remember to put a couple of diapers in there...
9. You think you're a bad mom. Thinking you're bad mom is a sign that you're probably a good one. We all suffer from degrees of mom guilt and that is an indicator that we recognize things that we'd like to change or improve about ourselves to be better moms - that's the sign of a good mom.
"There's no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one." -Jill Churchill