How To Avoid Being The Buzzkill Mom

We love our kids with a fierce passion, but let’s be brutally honest. Kids do the dumbest sh*t, throw tantrums over nothing, and can be generally difficult to live with sometimes. Do you feel like you are ALWAYS saying things like no, stop, and please don’t put the keys in the toilet? Especially these days, when the only people you get to hang out with are your kids and significant other, and it’s easy to start fantasizing about starting a new life alone on a beach somewhere.

Let’s start by reiterating that we all lose our sh*t sometimes with our kids, and that sometimes is definitely more frequent during a global pandemic. If that perfect chick from high school constantly posts pictures of her smiling family of four with captions like “live laugh love,” just remember she probably didn’t get to poop alone today and definitely counts down the minutes to bedtime. Kids make you lose your mind, and that doesn’t make you a bad parent—but you don’t want to get into the habit of always saying no and killing all the fun.

Now that we’ve reiterated that we are all superstars regardless of how our kids act sometimes, let’s get to some actionable steps to try to be a little less of a buzzkill when kids do their best to ruin the vibe daily. 

Options Are King

Kids love feeling like they are real people that make very important decisions, even though they literally have no clue which is their right hand or how to count to 15, and definitely won’t contribute to society for a solid 20 years. Instead of telling them they need to brush their teeth, ask if they would rather brush their teeth or put their clothes on first. The choice makes them feel in control, when in reality you’re just taking the opportunity for them to say no away.

Redirect Before It Turns Into a Tantrum

Does your kid seem to lose it every time the TV gets turned off? Redirect to the next activity before they can work themselves up too much. Bring out their favorite activity and ask them to do something creative (“what do you want to build with the Legos today?”). It may work 90% of the time or 20% of the time depending on how stubborn they are. Either way, one less tantrum in a day is a win in my book.

Validate Their Feelings

Tantrums are going to happen, it’s a normal part of development.  Kids just don’t understand how to cope with all those big emotions. The past year has been hard on everyone, can you imagine not knowing how to express how you are feeling properly? When your kid flat-out falls on the floor in agony about their pancake being too hot, try to react as calmly as you can. Let them have their moment, because nothing you say or do during the tantrum is going to get through to them. Get on their level and validate their feelings (“I understand you’re frustrated and it’s okay to feel that way, I’m here for you”). By doing this, you’re letting them know that they can feel safe to express themselves around you and that you love them no matter what. This may happen over and over for what feels like forever, but it’s getting through to them and they’ll learn how to communicate with you someday.

Don’t Give In

It’s tempting (especially in a public place) to give in to tantrums to mitigate the sheer embarrassment that your kid is a nutcase. During these times, remember that most people understand that kids in general are a handful and that it has nothing to do with your parenting. And the others can kindly f*ck off because they either don’t have kids or it’s been an eternity since they have. So please ignore the old man that grumbles at you on the plane and the lady who offers unsolicited advice in the cereal aisle. Giving in to tantrums won’t teach your kids how to properly manage their emotions, and may unfortunately make the next outburst worse. 

Remember that you’re still a great mom, even when you say no, yell, and tantrums happen on the daily. It’s a stage that will pass, and you simply showing up every day is proving to them that they can feel safe with you and are loved, which is all a kid really needs. And let’s be honest, as soon as they hit their preteen years, you’ll be a total buzzkill no matter what, so embrace it. 

Images: Alvaro Reyes / Unsplash; Giphy

5 Things Moms Can Do To Avoid Pandemic Burnout

Listen, I don’t care what any of the upbeat bloggers say, having kids during a pandemic is f*cking hard. Frankly, I’m in survival mode. I went from baking cookies and doing “fun” science experiments in March and part of April to hating my kitchen and anything involving crafts or corn starch. My snack drawer is the bane of my existence; it’s usually empty or doesn’t contain what one child wants at a particular time or whim. I mean, I thought I was part of the TV generation, having grown up in the 80s, but now? Sh*t. These kids will be the TV watching, YouTube subscribing, mug cake-microwaving, TikTok-making idiots of our future. Whoops! Let’s just get through it. Right?

But how? How are we supposed to get through it when we can’t get away from it? Between work, homeschooling, the endless task of making f*cking dinner, finding some alone time is as easy as finding a unicorn swimming in a pot of gold over the rainbow. Amiright??? So, how do I do it? I prioritize. MYSELF. MOI! ME! Yup! It feels selfish, but if I neglect my needs, I tend to get really whiny and pissed. Remember how they used to say, “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others” as the plane was pushing back (God, I miss flying!)? You, mama, are no good to anybody else if you’re no good to yourself. So, embrace putting your damn oxygen mask on first. I’m not saying every day needs to be a spa day, but at the very least, drink some cucumber water and take some calming breaths. Here’s what you need to be doing to make sure you don’t burn out.

1. Make Time For The Things That Are Important To You

Like I said, prioritize yourself. I know you’re probably reading this right now thinking, that’s f*cking great, Deb, but there’s not enough time in the day, let alone time dedicated just for me. I know! I feel that way every day! But, I always make time for myself. Between writing, podcasting, Zoom calls, homeschooling, snack-making, lunch-making, dinner-making, I somehow find a way. I make sure to get a workout in or read an article I’ve been looking forward to, or do anything else that has the potential to put a smile on my face for at least 10 to 15 minutes. And sometimes that means getting up at the crack of dawn, but it’s worth it. And, once you get used to it, it’s not that bad.

2. Have Sex

Remember that you actually love your significant other. Remember that you chose to spend the rest of your life with this person. Remember that you have a partner and that even though your kids need you (all the f*cking time), getting some QT with your partner is just as important as taking time for yourself. Yes, I know that we’re 100% in competition over who is doing more work (and of course we are), but sex feels good, for both of you! And, it’s a great reminder that no matter how hard things are right now, you’re not alone. No S.O.? No problem! Quality time with your hand or personal massager—seriously. You’ll release those same endorphins and help you let go of the stress. 

3. Work Out

Not for a damn six-pack or a beach bod, but because it’s another one of those things that just feels good. It’s kind of like sex… You know how sometimes you don’t feel like doing it, but then about a minute into it, you’re reminded how much you love it and how great it feels? It’s the same thing with working out. I mean it! No time? That’s bullsh*t. See number 1. We make time for the things that are important to us. And especially now, during the pandemic, there are a ridiculous number of workout apps that range in level and time. Make it a habit, a non-negotiable part of your day (like all of those annoying Zoom calls).

4. Two Words: Play Date

Schedule weekly play dates—for you, not for your kids! Obviously, I’m talking about Zoom play dates considering we’re in the midst of a pandemic, but a  Zoom cocktail is a pretty incredible mood-booster. I know that we’re all pretty Zoomed out, but it’s different when you have a cocktail in your hand, some chips (or cheese or cookies or cake) nearby, and the kids are asleep. Catching up with a friend (even over a screen) can be powerful, and allow for those happy hormones (dopamine) to release. 

5. Set F*cking Boundaries

We are so used to being “on” and available that we don’t have any idea how the hell to turn “off”. It’s especially bad now that we aren’t leaving our houses as frequently. We used to be out and about, busy doing errands, etc., which would oftentimes excuse us from instantly answering a text or email. But now that we’re home 24/7, we feel as though we don’t have a reason to be “off” because people know we have nowhere to be. Well, you do have a reason. It’s called self-care. And, it’s okay to be home and unavailable. It’s okay to not be accessible all the time. So, walk away from your phone. Walk away from the urge to respond immediately. Just walk away, and come back when you’ve had a change to regroup. Permission granted.

More than anything else, you are not alone. There are millions of moms (and dads, but we’re not talking about them now) struggling through how to raise our kids in a pandemic. It’s not easy. And it feels almost unbelievable that this is our reality. But it is. And, one way or another, we have to make the best of it. So, start with YOU! Because YOU are important. You are worth it. And, your kids need you to be their pillar of strength. So, get after it! 

Images: 4dgraphic / Unsplash

5 Foods You Shouldn’t Give To Your Baby Under 1 Year

Whether you have a kid, are thinking about having a kid, or have been forced to watch a kid, it’s kind of important that you know what babies can and can’t eat before they hit the one-year mark. Like, some things are obvious—don’t give a baby your wine, keep them away from large burgers, and make sure those tiny little hands don’t get a hold of too many clumps of dog hair. But there are several no-no foods that may not be as obvious. So here’s a short and sweet list of the foods to avoid feeding your baby until they’re at least a year old and/or their doctor has given the all clear.

Peanut Butter

So this one may seem obvious, but not for the reasons you think. Peanut butter is an obvious allergen, so you’d need to watch out for any potential reactions, but the big issue here is that peanut butter is a big-time choking hazard because of its consistency. Babies won’t naturally try to chew it, so most will try to swallow peanut butter whole—which, yikes. The best way to introduce peanut butter to help stave off allergies or identify them early is to mix it into purees or baby oatmeal. To do that, you don’t actually have to wait until your baby is a year old. Most pediatricians say 6-8 months is a good place to start.

Honey

Seems weird, right? Honey is an all-natural sweetener and is even cool for my dog to eat. What gives? The biggest issue is that honey isn’t pasteurized and can cause botulism. According to What To Expect, “Honey (or foods made with honey) is off-limits for the first year because it may contain the spores of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Although harmless to adults, these spores can cause botulism in babies under one. This serious but rarely fatal illness can cause constipation, weakened sucking, poor appetite, lethargy, and even potentially pneumonia and dehydration.”

Dairy Milk

Cow’s milk is totally chill for your 3-year-old to inhale or for me to spike with Kahlua, but babies under one year should steer clear of that particular white stuff. First, it doesn’t contain enough of the iron and nutrients babies need. What it does have, however, are nutrients (and sodium) that babies less than a year old can’t digest too well. Milk in things like cottage cheese, whole milk yogurt, and other items is totes fine, though.

Popcorn, Grapes, And Nuts

Choking hazards, ahoy. Although all of these seem like fun finger foods for babies, they’re hard and can easily lodge in a baby’s throat—even after being chopped up. Although it may seems like popcorn would just sort of dissolve in your mouth, it can actually become sticky, making it impossible for little ones to chew. Grapes end up being slippery, and can easily slide down throats. Purees and nut butters are fine, but skip these whole items until your baby is at least four years old.

Unpasteurized Foods

Sorry, but your baby cannot partake in your wine and cheese night if said cheese is unpasteurized. According to the NHS, “Babies and young children shouldn’t eat mould-ripened soft cheeses, such as brie or camembert, or ripened goats’ milk cheese and soft blue-veined cheese, such as Roquefort, as there’s a higher risk that these cheeses might carry a bacteria called listeria.” Fun fact, though: if you really want your baby to be fancy, he or she can have something like baked brie, as cooking kills listeria. Aside from cheese, make sure to also avoid things like unpasteurized fruit juices or raw milk.

Images: Giphy (3), Hessam Nabavi, Unsplash

5 Things To Think About Before Having A Baby

The time has finally come. Whether you’ve always dreamed about having a family or you’re finally entertaining the idea because you’re fairly sure you want kids and can’t put it off any longer your biological clock is ticking, you’re seriously considering getting pregnant. On purpose. As beautiful as that is, the idea can be overwhelming. How do you even begin to prepare? Before you start tracking your ovulation cycle and lifting your legs in the air after sex, here are some things you should consider.

1. Your Financial State

It’s no secret that having a baby is expensive AF. Even if you’re not living in a major city where daycare costs the same as an additional rent payment, paying to clothe, feed, and care for an additional human being adds up quickly. How will this impact your current lifestyle? Will you have to move, and is that something you’re willing to do? Not only do you need to consider your income (and that of your partner, if you have one), but also your spending habits. If you spend most weeks subsisting on ramen because you blew through your paycheck or you consider withdrawing cash from the ATM your own personal version of Russian roulette, then it may be time to reassess whether you’re really ready to support another person.

2. Your Emotional Maturity

Right up there with the financial piece is whether or not you’re emotionally ready to have a child. Although we all know that having a baby changes your life dramatically, it’s important to think concretely about the ways it will change your life specifically. For example, if you, like me, are someone who likes to sleep in past 10am late on the weekends, you’re going to have to make peace with the fact that bringing a new life into this world is likely to give a whole new meaning to the word “exhaustion”. Similarly, if you’re used to going out every weekend, you’ll need to think seriously about whether you’re willing to have your social life take a back seat to bottle feedings and diaper changes. Having a baby is the ultimate act of selflessness, and it’s important to be confident that you’re in a place where you’re ready to be a little less selfish.

3. Your Support System

They don’t say “it takes a village to raise a child” for nothing. While many superwomen (and supermen) can and do raise children on their own, it’s incredibly difficult. Assuming you have a partner, it’s important to discuss upfront your expectations as far as the division of labor goes and make sure you’re on the same page. If you’re expecting to share feeding and changing responsibilities pretty equally and your significant other expects to only do, like, 10% of the work, dump that significant other it’s best to work out those kinks before the baby comes. If you’re thinking of raising a baby on your own, are there friends or relatives you can lean on when needed? The more support you have in place, the smoother the rough patches will be.

4. Your Health & Wellness

We all know that having a baby can wreak havoc on your body. But besides coming to terms with the weight gain, fluctuations in hormones, and other common bodily changes that come with performing The Miracle of Life, you should also make sure you’re prepared from a health and wellness perspective. This may mean talking to your doctor about any necessary dietary or lifestyle changes, the medicines you’re currently taking and the skin care products you use, as certain adjustments may be necessary when pregnant. If you’re concerned about passing on a certain genetic disorder to your baby, you may also want to consider pre-genetic testing for yourself, and if needed, your partner, so you have all of the information needed to make the decision that’s right for you.

5. Your Parenting Style

Cool mom

Will you be a regular mom or a cool mom? All kidding aside, now is a good time to start thinking about how you would like to raise your child, especially if you’re sharing the responsibilities with a partner who likely had a very different upbringing than you. Aside from the more obvious subjects like religion, are you and your significant other on the same page about the kinds of values you want to instill in your kid? Will one of you take on the role of disciplinarian, or is that a role that both parties should share? Getting aligned now can save you from conflicts down the road.

While no one is ever 100% ready to have a baby, thinking through some of the things on this list can help you to get in the right mindset and confirm that you’re on the right track. If you’re making these plans with a partner, communication is key. You may not agree on everything, but an open dialogue now will pay dividends later, both for you and your relationship. What else should someone consider before having a baby? Let me know in the comments!

Images: Xavier Mouton Photographie / Unsplash; Giphy (5)

New Moms: Don’t Be Surprised When Your Friends Start Dropping Like Flies

Welcome to Momhood, where you’ll find a verklempt me. I miss my girlfriends, the fab Non-Moms with perfect nails, flowing coiffes, fresh ‘fits, and makeup expertly applied after hours of YouTube tutorials. 

 Now, I am a superwoman, racing around my apartment for hours while chasing after my charging toddler.

I’m also a super effing lonely first-time mom. 

My single friends started to disappear with the first midnight feeding. It wasn’t for lack of trying—at first, there were lots of invitations, but they were coming to kvell over my baby, not to clink a glass of Whispering Angel. Happy hours, fancy dinners, concerts, barbecues, and girls trips were going on hiatus for a few seasons.

Quarantine is not so hard. I spent much of 2019 housebound with the baby while breastfeeding and pumping round-the-clock—that was hard. Now, I’m spending much of the socially distanced present far from the very friends I had hoped to finally hang with by my side.

Still, without sisters, it isn’t easy.

Less Time, Less Friends

According to a Child Magazine survey, 69 percent of women felt satisfied with their friendships before having kids; only 54 percent felt that way afterward. 

The culprit? Less time to spare. The same study found that before becoming moms, women spent 14 hours per week with friends, compared to only five hours after.  

Joanie Cox-Henry, a former celebrity reporter, says things got real when she welcomed her son, Jack, now 5.

“My friendships before I became a mom were totally different: I met up for happy hour, went to concerts with friends, took couples vacations, and endlessly shopped for shoes, clothes, and makeup,” says Cox-Henry, now a mom of two who blogs about her mom life for Motherloading

“I could accept phone calls at any hour of the day and really be there for my crew. I worked as a fashion and beauty writer and would be at Miami nightclubs and red carpet events constantly. 

 “After I became a mom, I slowed down a lot. I was still popping bottles at 3am, but now they were baby bottles, and I became so excruciatingly tired. I used to think I was tired before, but after becoming a parent, you unlock a fatigue achievement level you never fathomed was possible.”

Tania Hammond, a stay-at-home mom of two, says she lost about “four or five friends” after welcoming her daughter in 2017, adding,“It’s so tough to work around my schedule.” 

When non-moms invited her out, she answered, but with an interrogation. “‘Where are we going? What time? How long are we going to be there?’ And the reason why I’m asking all of those questions is because I’m on a schedule.” 

Soon, the invites diminished. “I feel like they got frustrated and gave up, like, ‘Ugh. This is too difficult.’ When I was single, and I had mom friends, I feel like I was more understanding,” says Hammond. “I still hung out with them, and I flexed my schedule to match theirs. But, I feel like that was not reciprocated when I became a mom.”

When The Tables Turn

Chantie Khan-Enwright says she lost four friends when she became a mom at 25. That’s when the invites to party and hang into the wee hours were plenty. Now that her kid is 13, many of her thirtysomething friends are finally pushing strollers—and seeing what it’s like having virtually zero time to chill. 

“Now they see the importance of getting a break and having adult time,” says Khan-Enwright, a work-from-home travel agent. “They” being the ride-or-die friends who toughed it out through Khan-Enwright’s busy mom years. 

“My circle is really small, and the moms have kids at different ages.” They stick together, taking family trips, and carving out moms-only time within the getaways. Thinking back, Khan-Enwright says she doesn’t miss the pals who didn’t bother to stick around. “They were only there for a season,” she says, “cause now their reason is over.”

Finding A New Crew

After a bit of an adjustment period, now I’ve decided to leave the ones who left me in the rearview. No grudges. No side-eye. It’s okay, I tell myself, they’ll learn one day—or not.

I’ve miraculously managed to make new mom friends during the lockdown. One day, while taking my little one for a walk, I met a mom who looked so much like me, it was almost like looking in a mirror. She’s West Indian-American, too. Our little boys are also both curly-headed—literal bookends. We’ve managed socially distant playdates (with lots of Clorox wipes to clean the swings at the park), and we chat about our old lives and long for the day when we can spill wine on each other in a crowded bar. 

Another day, yet another mom came pushing her son down the block in his toy car—she’s a Korean fashion designer mourning her employer, Ann Taylor’s, filing for bankruptcy. We connected over our shared love of European travel and brioche. Lots of brioche. 

We three find solace in knowing we’re all equally tired, worried, happy, and thankful. The beginnings of a new sisterhood. 

We’ll all be okay.

 Images: Sai De Silva / Unsplash

FSU ‘Will No Longer Allow’ Employees To Care For Their Kids While WFH

It’s apparent by now that none of us really kn0w how to handle a global pandemic. Of course, safety measures like masks and social distancing guidelines are important, but when it comes to larger questions about how to move forward, even the experts don’t have all the answers. Every industry is facing major decisions, but with the fall semester fast approaching, it’s crunch time for higher education. Schedules are in flux, on campus vs. remote options are still being weighed, and with nearly every state now seeing a surge in cases, things are changing day by day. But choices still must be made, and not every school is making popular ones.

Recently, Florida State University, an institution which employed more than 15,000 people in 2019, made a controversial announcement about their work from home policy. An email to faculty and staff noted that in March, the University “communicated a temporary exception to policy which allowed employees to care for children at home while on the Temporary Remote Work agreement.” But going forward, “the University will return to normal policy and will no longer allow employees to care for children while working remotely.” The new rules are set to go into effect on August 7th.

According to a statement from Renisha Gibbs, FSU’s Associate Vice President of Human Resources, the University has a “standard telecommuting agreement that requires dependent or child-care arrangements while working remotely.” Gibbs added that if employees do not have child care options for the fall, “they should work with their supervisors to identify a flexible work schedule that allows them to fulfill their work duties and their family responsibilities.” Is that not what basically every parent has been doing for the last four months?

My uni (in FLORIDA) just announced that effective August 7th the University will no longer allow employees to care for children while working remotely. I can’t even process that- the pandemic is not over and will not be over then.

— Dr. Jenny Root (@Dr_Jenny_Root) June 27, 2020

Dr. Jenny Root, an associate professor at FSU, voiced her concerns about the new policy, telling The Lily that the University is “acting like they gave us this privilege to watch our children while we worked—when that’s literally what I had to do.” Root explained that her children’s daycare center had only recently opened back up, but was forced to close again when someone in the community tested positive for COVID. And with a major recent uptick in cases in Florida, this seems like an especially strange time to act like things will be back to normal in just over a month.

Florida public schools are currently set to open for the fall semester, but with coronavirus cases ripping through the state, that may not happen. Florida State employees were set to begin returning to campus as early as next week, but those plans are now on hold. These developments, along with backlash to the childcare decision, led Gibbs to update her earlier statement. She acknowledged the changing situation, saying that the University will “make any adjustments accordingly,” and vowing to work with employees who are “balancing parental responsibilities and work obligations.” We’ll see how that goes, but at this point, it’s looking like things might be worse in August than they were in March.

Across the board, universities are getting creative with how they can resume normal-ish operations as safely as possible. Yesterday, Yale University announced that they will have no sophomores on campus this fall, and no freshmen on campus in the spring. This arrangement sounds bizarre, but it will allow the school to operate at around 60% in-person capacity, and students living on campus will be tested weekly. The majority of classes will be offered virtually, with only labs and studio classes required to be taken in-person.

Also this week, Williams College, one of the world’s top liberal arts schools, announced they will cut their tuition and fees for the upcoming school year by 15%. Williams is the first major school to announce any kind of tuition discount, with President Maud Mandel citing the “destabilizing impact of the coronavirus outbreak on student academics and activities” as the top reason for the price cut. Williams plans to “flexibly” return to campus for the fall semester, but classes will be a mix of in-person and virtual, and all sports for the semester have been canceled.

While Williams is the only school so far to announce a decision like this, many students have expressed anger at the expectation that they will pay full tuition and fees for reduced resources and mostly remote instruction. Some have even filed lawsuits demanding partial refunds for the spring semester, and studies have suggested that more students are choosing to take time off from school, rather than pay full price for another f*cked up semester.

Basically, every school is trying something different when it comes to reopening, and no one knows exactly what will work. But prohibiting employees from taking care of their children seems like maybe not the best option?

Images: Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com; dr_jenny_root / Twitter

How Much Is Too Much When Posting About Your Kid On Social Media?

This article is probably going to #trigger a lot of you, so go ahead and read your horoscope or one of our Real Housewives articles to calm down before you @ me in the comments.

With the dawn of social media has come the dawn of oversharing. So many people feel the need to have their existence validated in the form of comments and likes on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook that it makes my head spin. Now that our generation (millenials for life) is hitting the wedding and kid age, you may have noticed that a lot of your friends are constantly (and I mean CONSTANTLY) sharing stories, pictures, and videos of their kids and partners online.

The question is, how much is too much? Will the subject of these videos, the children, be cool with the fact that mom is documenting a blowout/bath/toddler meltdown for the whole world to see? Let’s break it down.

The Rise Of “Sharenting”

Oh, yeah, there’s a name for it. If you weren’t aware, “sharenting” is basically sharing everything your kid does while simultaneously asking for advice, posting embarrassing sh*t, and generally airing out your parenting dirty laundry all over the internet. It doesn’t, on the surface, seem like that big of a deal. However, it can lead to everything from your kids looking for validation in the form of likes later, to identity theft, to children feeling like they have no sense of privacy.

We get that sharing that inspirational quote with a picture of bath time gone wrong is going to probably get a lot of likes from your friends, but is it worth it? You’re creating a digital identity for your child before they can even say, “mom, chill with the photos.”

Not Sharing Helps Your Kids Later

It may seem like a wild thought when you’re up at 3am changing diapers, but eventually, your kid is going to grow up and see all the stuff you’ve posted about them online (provided the internet still exists then). In addition to them feeling weird about it, all that sharing can actually lead to serious problems, like identity theft. According to Forbes,  “Barclays has forecast that by 2030 ‘sharenting’ will account for 2/3 of identity fraud, costing hundreds of millions of dollars a year. With just a name, date of birth, and address (easy enough to find in a geotagged birthday party photo on Facebook, for example), bad actors can store this information until a person turns 18 and then begin opening accounts.”

That kind of makes you stop and think about posting the full name, date, time, and location of your kid’s first birthday party, doesn’t it? As someone who has personally dealt with having my social security number stolen and having some jackass try to file taxes in my name (joke’s on you—I have no money), I can attest to how not fun that situation is. Is posting that photo or video really worth the headache your kid may endure later?

Aside from identity theft, posting about behavioral issues, tantrums, illnesses, and other trials and tribulations your kid is going through could come back to hurt them later. Maybe your kid, upon reaching age 10, didn’t really want people to know that they were wetting the bed/had a biting issue/licked walls, even though it was hilarious at the time. You posting that online didn’t really give them a choice in sharing that information when, at the end of the day, it directly affects them.

Genevieve von Lob, a clinical psychologist consulted for an article about sharenting on The Guardian, says, “‘More and more parents are questioning the wisdom of posting so much about their kids online. The pictures that are uploaded can form a permanent digital tattoo. Because it’s all so new for parents, we need to start thinking about asking children’s permission to post online.” She wants parents to ask themselves, “Are you leading with a positive, respectful, appropriate example? Are you modelling that you think before you share online? If parents are posting things online to get likes, it’s about getting that validation from others. It’s important kids aren’t learning that posting is a way of being validated.'”

So, if you’re sharing everything from cute outfits to “inspirational” mommy quotes with a pic of your kid to tummy time and everything in between to get validation that you are a GREAT parent, your kid is going to pick that up. Basically, don’t be surprised when they try to drop out of high school to be an influencer.

This Isn’t Your Dog

It kind of goes without saying, but your dog isn’t a person.

** slams computer shut in disgust **

You dog doesn’t have a future other than to play all day, sleep all night, and eat whatever you drop on the floor while providing unquestionable loyalty and snuggles. Your kid, however, could potentially be looking at going to an Ivy League school, or trying to make friends while appearing normal. Whatever the case, your kid is not your dog, and documenting their antics to the same degree you’ve documented that of your pets isn’t all that chill. Like, do you think your kid, when they hit age 15, is going to be SO PSYCHED that you posted that time they smeared sh*t all over the walls of the nursery? How about when they just looked **so adorable** during naked naptime? It’s important to remember that your baby is a person, and just because they can’t tell you to stop posting sh*t now, doesn’t mean they won’t think it (and yell at you about it) later.

Stacey Steinberg of the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law wrote a legal analysis regarding sharenting and was consulted for this Forbes article. Steinberg concludes that “it’s important to give children the right to say no to parental posts about them (including photos, quotes, and descriptions of their accomplishments and challenges). She notes that by age four, children have a sense of self and have already begun to compare themselves with others.” Additionally, Steinberg says, “‘children who grow up with a sense of privacy, coupled with supportive and less controlling parents, fare better in life. Studies report these children have a greater sense of overall well-being and report greater life satisfaction than children who enter adulthood having experienced less autonomy in childhood.” She emphasizes, “Children must be able to form their own identity and create their own sense of both private and public self to thrive as young people and eventually as adults.'”

Your dog doesn’t NEED a sense of autonomy in puppyhood to experience greater life satisfaction. You kid, on the other hand, totally does.

Post, But Keep It Chill

Overall, posting a few pics here and there of your cute kid or kids is like, fine. They aren’t going to be mentally damaged by it; your friends may talk sh*t about you behind your back, but you can rest assured that you’re just one of millions of cool moms documenting your “totally crazy fun #blessed” life on social media.

I'm a cool mom

But, for the love of God, try to keep it to a minimum. Personally, I would rather see your dog than your spawn—and, also, you’re potentially setting your kid up for all the issues we discussed above. If you just NEED to post that pic, keep it vague, don’t geotag, and limit your audience. Even better, send the video via text to friends and family, post for a limited audience as a story on Facebook or Instagram, or Snapchat it. No matter what you want to post, think before you do it. For f*ck’s sake, think of the children.

Images: Jomjakkapat Parrueng, Unsplash; Giphy (3)

Women Need To Talk About Fertility Issues, So I’m Starting With Mine
Hollie Overton is a TV writer and producer currently working on TELL ME A STORY for CBS All-Access. She has written for Shadowhunters, Cold Case, and The Client List. Hollie’s debut thriller, BABY DOLL was an international bestseller and was published in eleven countries. Her 2nd novel, THE WALLS was released Aug. 2017. Her 3rd novel THE RUNAWAY was just released on August 6, 2019. An identical twin, Hollie grew up in Kingsville, Texas but now resides in LA with her husband, David and rescue dog, Stevie.

Growing up in a small town in Texas, all I wanted to do was to tell stories. In elementary school, while other girls planned pretend weddings, my twin sister, Heather, and I made up elaborate tales involving our imaginary friends, two middle-aged hobos. In middle school, I scribbled ideas in floral embroidered journals and wrote some truly terrible poetry. But a community production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat changed everything. I fell in love with acting and was accepted into a theater conservatory in New York City. While friends were falling in love, getting married and having children, I was laser-focused on my career. 

With that came something I never anticipated: judgment about my life choices. At my father’s funeral, extended family seemed disappointed when they learned I was single and childless. I was twenty-one. I laughed off their “you still have time” comments and focused on my studies.  After several years in New York, I moved to Los Angeles, and landed my dream job: working as a TV writer. I even published two crime novels. 

While my career was taking off, I fell in love, married David, a handsome British tennis coach, and adopted Stevie, our adorable rescue pup. We were together for almost ten years when we decided to start a family. To our surprise, less than two months later, I was pregnant.  

My first thought was, “oh crap. I’m not ready.” Then the morning sickness kicked in. I can’t say it was pleasant, but suddenly this baby was real and I wanted it. I kept imagining how it would feel to hold my child in my arms. I already knew my husband would make a great father, but I couldn’t wait to see him in action. 

It all seemed too easy…and it was. At our first appointment, David and I sat in the doctor’s office, her smile fading, her body language drawing inward as she stared at the ultrasound. She’d delivered this news before, but her disappointment didn’t sound practiced. “The fetus is too small,” she said. There were other terms I’d never heard before. Missed miscarriage. Silent abortion. None of them good. “Come back in a week,” she advised. I went home, and disappeared into a Google black hole, praying that the mommy blogs offering hopeful stories of miracle babies would be my fate.

The evening before my follow-up with the doctor, I began hemorrhaging. David found me passed out on the bathroom floor. He called an ambulance, and I was rushed to the ER. The events that followed next were the kind of brutal feminine business us Texas ladies don’t discuss in proper company. Kind-faced doctors and nurses appeared, IVs were drawn, pain meds administered, ultrasounds ordered, and tearful “I love yous” whispered. The operating room greeted me with its bright lights, and then nothing but blackness. I woke a few hours later, stitched together, but not quite whole. 

We did not immediately start “trying” (a word my sister hates, which means I have to use it!) again. I needed time to recover emotionally, and then work commitments kept me and David on opposite coasts for several months. Five months later, my mother died and I found myself consumed with grief. I’d lost my anchor, and was heartbroken knowing that my child would never meet her grandmother. 

It was soul-crushing, but we decided to start again. My OB suggested additional tests to make sure we were both healthy, and discovered several small fibroids and cysts on my uterus, something previously undiagnosed. A hysteroscopy was scheduled, a relatively simple outpatient procedure that offered up a clean bill of health. Until a week later, when I began to hemorrhage at home and found myself experiencing a terrible case of déjà vu: bleeding out, an ambulance ride to the ER, and emergency surgery. I was given another clean bill of health, and yet still no baby. 

Last year, we finally began consulting with a fertility specialist. Since then I’ve had three more hysteroscopies to remove scar tissue and fibroids. I’ve never officially been diagnosed with PCOS, though my symptoms and challenges conceiving are not dissimilar to those with that diagnosis. I’d hoped to get pregnant with IUI, but four rounds later, it was clear IVF was our only option. I am grateful that we are able to afford these costly fertility treatments, but I am learning that it is still an agonizing road, with no guarantees. 

I never imagined I’d be the leading lady of a story riddled with so many cliches. If I were writing this, my heroine wouldn’t obsessively purchase pregnancy tests each month, fighting back tears when that single pink line appeared. She definitely wouldn’t burst into tears at baby showers or stifle that bubbling jealousy when her friends announced their pregnancies or catalogued their baby’s daily accomplishments. My heroine wouldn’t resent the well-meaning (yet incredibly annoying) advice about meditating/yoga/acupuncture/cutting out alcohol/carbs/grains/dairy. She certainly wouldn’t be the type who spiraled into depression when people offered advice like “just relax,” or “stop stressing,” or have you tried going on a vacation?” It’s clear to me now that a higher power is penning this tale. 

Of all the stories I’ve written, this is by far the most difficult. But writing is my therapy. It’s how I process my experiences and connect with others. I also know I’m not the only woman struggling. There are thousands of women gathering in private spaces; sharing encouraging words and advice on secret Instagram and Facebook pages, their experiences told in whispers, not shouts. My question is: what if we did shout about it? What if we talked openly about miscarriages and IUI and IVF, about hormone injections and mood swings? What if we shared the difficulties that come with juggling your professional obligations with weekly doctors appointments and failed fertility cycles? What if we stopped being ashamed of something we have no control over? Can you imagine the freedom we would have? 

I can. It wasn’t simple, but I finally made the decision to share my experiences. It’s the only control I have in any of this.  I’ve also chosen to silence that voice, the one that kept whispering, “you shouldn’t have waited. This is all your fault.” I don’t regret the choices I’ve made. I wanted to act, and write, travel and explore the world. I wanted to discover who I was, to nurture my relationship with my husband and make sure we were ready for the responsibility that comes with bringing new life into the world. Of course, some days I’m frustrated, other days I’m angry, jealous, some days I’m achingly sad, but I am never hopeless. I truly believe that our story will end the way it was meant to—with a child of our own.

Hollie Overton is a TV writer and producer currently working on TELL ME A STORY for CBS All-Access. She has written for Shadowhunters, Cold Case, and The Client List. Hollie’s debut thriller, BABY DOLL was an international bestseller and was published in eleven countries. Her 2nd novel, THE WALLS was released Aug. 2017. Her 3rd novel THE RUNAWAY was just released on August 6, 2019. An identical twin, Hollie grew up in Kingsville, Texas but now resides in LA with her husband, David and rescue dog, Stevie.