Everything Baby On Motherhood

A Science-Based Look at Natural Induction Methods

Getting Real with Neve Spicer, Founder & Director at

The nine months we spend carrying our babies can sometimes seem to fly by in a haze of appointments, celebrations and preparations. Once a mom passes her due date, though, time may seem to slow down a bit – you’re eager to meet baby, and may be equally eager to avoid the prospect of medical induction, which can lead to labor complications. Though we don’t believe in rushing baby along, moms who are recommended for induction and are hoping to avoid a Pitocin drip may be interested in discussing natural methods of inducing labor with their doctor or health care provider.

Natural labor induction has been a part of recorded medical history for millennia, and the list of rituals, tinctures, herbs, and oils with which doctors, apothecaries and their patents have experimented is mighty long. While many of those fall under the heading of so-called “old wives’ tales”, other remedies have long been considered by traditional wisdom as legitimate ways to naturally trigger active labor.

For moms today who are armed with medical knowledge, natural labor induction methods pose a few important, clear-cut questions. Is it safe? Is it effective? Are there side effects? Does your doctor consider your method to be a safe alternative to hospital induction? While there’s not a proliferation of research available on naturally inducing labor, the studies that do exist let us know that there’s reason to believe some natural labor induction methods can actually trigger active labor. On the flip side, while some have a short and innocuous list of side effects, other methods can cause issues ranging from unpleasant symptoms to serious labor complications and birth defects – in other words, nature is powerful, and induction methods shouldn’t be assumed to be safe solely because they are natural.

As deceptively simple as it sounds to kick back with a bag of tasty dates and wait for your water to break, knowing the facts about the efficacy and safety of natural labor methods from a scientific perspective can help you understand the way they work and whether they’re appropriate for your situation. It’s always essential to discuss your plans with your doctor for a final go-ahead, as their informed knowledge of your pregnancy can help them steer you in the right direction. We The Parents put together a helpful visualization detailing nine of the most common natural labor induction methods to help moms understand what science has to say – read on to learn more.

On Motherhood Parenting

Kicking Parental Guilt to the Curb

Getting Real with Dynisha Smith

Today I missed my kid’s bus stop. I don’t know about where you live, but here you have to be at the stop to collect your kindergarten student or they are taken back to school.

Thank gosh we are not the last stop or I might have lost it. I was maybe two minutes too late – I saw the bus headed to the next stop, and broke every traffic law short of Baby Driver to get two stops ahead of the bus. And you guys – I cried. Looking back now, I feel kind of dumb admitting that.

The Torture of Parental Guilt

I picked her up and talked her through her own emotions. I reminded her I will always, without fail, short of death (this I said silently) come for her. In that moment though, sitting in my car praying to every deity I could think of to please delay the bus a few minutes because I swear i’ll be a better person – all I could think about was what kind of failure doesn’t make it to the bus stop on time? Why did I go down this street? Why didn’t I run that light?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had this kind of guilt over something. If your hand went up, you and I are not alone. Moms and Dads everywhere admit, albeit quietly at first, that they have had at least one moment of complete and utter panic over something to do with caring for their kids. Maybe you forgot your kids lunch, maybe you didn’t arrange transportation for something ahead of time… the list goes on. You let them cry over ‘spilled milk’ – whatever that means for you – until you just gave in. And then you feel like crap for giving in.

It Can’t Keep Going Like This

So what the flip are we supposed to do about this? Tediously I have to repeat myself, I don’t know about you but I cannot continue to live like this for the next thirteen years. Like most other single parents, I have probably come across multiple memes with a damned if you do, damned if you don’t message. Work, stay at home, spend more time with your kids, take better care of yourself, get more education to make more money, make better financial choices – move to another country and assume new alias. Okay that was just my solution – insert shrugging emoji here.

It is so much and it is so daunting. And with all of that off of my chest, I’m proposing a new litmus test for that damn parental guilt. Let’s ask ourselves – in reflection, because let’s be honest, we ain’t gonna remember these in the moment – these simple questions. Is our kid safe? Are their basic needs met? Is the damage irreversible? Can we commit to doing it differently next time? Do they still understand how loved they are? If you answered yes to most of these questions – keep kickin’ ass, your kid is fine, you are fine, and you ARE doing enough.

You ARE doing enough.

On Motherhood

I Can’t Remember the Last Time I Brushed My Hair

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Right now, the one-month old is sleeping and the sick toddler is watching a movie. (And no, I DON’T want to build a freaking snowman.) I’m sitting at my computer with tired eyes and cold coffee, desperately trying to get some work done while the two of them are sort of settled for all of five minutes. The newborn keeps threatening to wake up, because going an hour without eating is apparently unacceptable. And the second he does, my toddler will also make a demand, I’m sure.

This is motherhood. It’s not pretty.

It’s beautiful.

It’s the most raw experience I’ve ever had. Never have my emotions been so transparent. Never have I felt so vulnerable. Never have I had to make such a sacrifice for needs other than my own, and that’s what makes it so beautiful. Creating life (and then keeping that life alive) is the most pure thing that has ever happened to me.

Despite this acknowledgment of an experience so unique, I’m tired.

I can’t remember the last time I brushed my hair, honestly. I’m pretty sick of the diaper rash from the pads that I’ve been wearing for weeks. I still can’t wear my wedding rings because my postpartum skin is more sensitive than my newborn’s. I spend my evening hours waiting for the final poop of the night before I can finally get some sleep, and this is after wrestling my toddler into her own bed.

I’m also doing a lot of crying. I feel like I’m failing at least ten times per day, mixed in with brief moments of success amidst cuddles and spit-up and dirty diapers. For those moms posting gorgeous Instagram photos with hair and makeup done, I’m envious. I also know that’s not how you started your day. Whatever face we put on for the world, there is an internal struggle. There is constant second-guessing. This. Is. Hard.

So for your moms that haven’t got the energy to do anything but roll from one set of sweats to the next, I see you. You’ll have time to brush your hair some day. It won’t always look like this. Despite the unkempt look, I hope you are still experiencing happiness. I hope you haven’t brushed your hair because of lack of time, like me, and not because of depression. For those moms that are looking glamorous, I see you, too. I know it wasn’t easy to get ready for the day, and I sincerely hope you feel as good as you look. I hope your hair and makeup is the self-care you deserve, and not an attempt to convince the world that everything is fine when it’s not.

Motherhood is not glamorous, but it will always remain the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done, despite my unbrushed hair.

Adult Children Parenting Raising Healthy Kids Teens and Tweens

Don’t Expect Your Kids to Have all the Answers at 18

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Do you have all the answers? If you don’t, why should your kids?

The career I chose at 18 is not anything close to the career and business I have built today. But I grew up with a dad who got a job when he was 18 and stayed in the same industry his whole life until he retired. He was with the same company my entire life, so I tried to do the same. A dozen jobs later, I finally realized there was no corporate fit for me, especially not with all the atrocious (read: misogynist) bosses out there.

So why should I expect my own kids to choose a path at 18 years old? Between 18 and now, my path has changed a more times than I can count, and I would have never predicted that I would be where I am today (in motherhood, in my career, in my location, in my future goals). But it’s easy to forget that as our children graduate high school and are expected to launch their own lives.

The second our children step foot into middle school, the interest inventories begin. When Kira first took these tests, she wanted to be a professional cheerleader. Parker wanted to be a musician, then a filmmaker. Anika wanted to be a dancer, then an actress. Those career choices don’t fit neatly into the school counselor’s box. My interests happen to include painting, something I didn’t even take up until I was 40.

Your personality and interests are then cross-matched with your career testing, which measures your skills. The test results tell you a list of fields you should consider, all of which require college for at least 4 years. The school counselors certainly aren’t going to encourage a non-traditional path like “move to Hollywood and try to break into the movie industry, or move to New York City and work as a waitress while you try out for plays.” But by the time you’re in your junior year of high school, you’re expected to know what your life plans are. You took all the tests, so it should be easy, right?

When has standardized testing ever offered a reliable answer?

Our children’s brains haven’t even finishing developing by the time they’ve graduated from high school. Most young adults are well into their college degrees by the time the frontal lobe has fully matured, and at that point, decisions have been made that make many kids feel obligated to keep going in the direction they started – and with loans that keep them bound to work to keep paying loans. These students feel locked into careers and choices that they made because they were forced to have all the answers when they were just kids who really just needed more recess time. Turning 18 somehow is supposed to mean that you know what you want to do with the rest of your life.


Having all the answers is an unrealistic expectation that places unnecessary pressure on our kids. What do you want to do with your life? What is your next step? At age 18, why is “I don’t know” such a horrible answer? I wish I had had the guts to say that when I was 18, because I truly didn’t know.

I’m not saying you should let your kids graduate from high school and then sit at home playing video games all day long. Your kids should still be designing their own lives and learning to care for themselves, but rushing off to college and loans and debt may not be the answer. Let them get a job, an internship, or take some free online courses to help them define what they want to do. Let them spend a year backpacking across Europe. As long as they are doing something to help them learn about who they are, they’re doing the right thing.

The biggest mistake a parent can make is to expect their kids to have all the answers at age 18. Your kid may legally be considered an adult, but they still need you for guidance.

I don’t have all the answers as an adult, so no, I don’t expect my 18 year old to know everything either.



Motherhood Isn’t a Sacrifice and Stepmoms Need to Get on Board

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I was reading this fantastic article in the New York Times about how motherhood needs some serious rebranding. The author nails it on the head: motherhood is advertised as a huge sacrifice, especially when living in a country that lacks maternity support of any kind and health care is a joke. It can be daunting to even consider motherhood, because people make it sound miserable. However, I’ve noticed this trend of “sacrifice” to be more obvious in stepmoms. There are actual groups of stepmoms on social media who gather like it’s an AA meeting to discuss the misery of their lives. Shame on them.

Get Over Yourself, Already

This “woe is me” nonsense seriously needs to stop. Stepmoms are not saints for supposedly sacrificing everything to care for or share space with the children of the person they love. No one is saying it isn’t noble to step up and care for kids that aren’t biologically yours, but acting as if you’ve given up everything to be with a man (or woman) who had kids without you – maybe wishing he didn’t have those kids – is disgusting.

Everything Has an Opportunity Cost, Even Motherhood

There is sacrifice in every choice, and motherhood is no exception. When you choose one job over another, or a new city over your home town, you are making sacrifices. Staying out late drinking is sacrificing your morning. Choosing to work instead of stay home with the kids, and vice-versa, requires sacrifice. Every action has a reaction, but it is your perspective that will determine whether the result is positive or negative.

Be a Stepmom, Not a Martyr

The assumption that motherhood as a whole is one giant sacrifice is ridiculous. And the idea that being a stepmom automatically makes you a martyr who has given up everything is even more ridiculous.

There are so many rewards to motherhood, no matter how kids have come into your life. You learn so much about yourself through the eyes of a child, and every day is enriched by their presence. It’s like parents who refuse to travel “because of the kids” – as if children ruin a vacation.

You Don’t Get a Medal Just for Marrying Someone with Kids

Sorry, but stepmoms don’t get a medal just for being stepmoms. If you’ve chosen to love a man with kids, you’ve made an active choice to love his children too – and if you can’t, you shouldn’t be there. Kids that have been through divorce and custody battles have enough to deal with, and they don’t need your disdain added to the mix. Kids are perceptive, and they’ll be able to tell if you’re in it for the glory of “stepping up” or genuinely making an effort to create a family together.

So much energy is put into complaining about caring for someone else’s children that could be put to better use. If stepmoms spent half the time building relationships with their stepchildren that they spend complaining  and making sure people notice what martyrs they are, they might actually enjoy being stepmoms. Yes, there are stressful days and sleepless nights, but nothing compares to being loved by a child.

Motherhood Needs Rebranded – and Stepmoms Can Play a Big Part

We need to stop telling mothers and stepmothers that motherhood is a sacrifice and start a conversation about all the benefits. Of course, there are challenges in motherhood – and in being a stepmom – but I’ve had the privilege of raising five  children, three of them bonus children. These are children I never knew I wanted until they were in my life, and with the reputation motherhood has, who could have blamed me?

Motherhood does need rebranding, and stepmoms need to be a part of the effort.

Want to be a better stepmom? Read 25 Rules for Being a GOOD StepMom

or get the book –

Adult Children Keeping Marriage Strong Love On Motherhood Parenting

Empty Nest, Here We Come – Like It or Not

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I have been so blessed to have a full house from the time I met Dave. He already had three children, and they quickly became my own as our relationship developed. Once we were married, we added two more, with a total of five children occupying our time.

As kids get older, it is expected that they’ll move on eventually. My youngest son, Parker, is headed off to college this fall. Our youngest child, Anika, will be graduating next year and doing the same. Although our second-oldest, Kira, came back and then stayed after leaving for college, this is a temporary situation. She and her husband have plans to settle in England, and their time in our household is limited.

This will leave Dave and I with an empty nest, finally. However, this does leave us thinking, “What now?”

I will miss my children. I will cry (and have cried) many tears at the idea of them moving out and starting their own adventures, and I will look forward to future gatherings of our family. I’ll acknowledge that our nest will feel a little empty, and the stillness and quiet will shock both of us a little bit.

At the same time, an empty nest is something to look forward to. Dave and I have prioritized our relationship during the busy lives of our five children, and he is still my best friend. We work together, travel together, have raised kids together, and delight in our grandchildren together. We will always be there when our children need us, but once they are all moved out, it will just be us.

We can cook whatever we want, watch whatever we want on TV, go where ever we want on vacation. We will get to enjoy our time together, without the constant interruption that is a natural consequence of children. I’m sure there will still be days that I cry and miss my children terribly, but there will also be days when I rejoice in having the quiet companionship of my husband.

Dave and I have loved every second of raising our children, but we are so excited to have uninterrupted time together. I will welcome visits from children and grandchildren every day, but I will also welcome the month-long jaunts through new countries. I will welcome the brand-new adventures that are much more affordable with two people than with seven. I will welcome the quiet, and yearn for the noise, all in the same breath.

Although our children will always be our pride and joy, I am grateful that Dave and I did not neglect our own relationship over the last 20+ years. Children do grow up and start their own lives. Invest in your relationship every day, because this is your life partner. To keep marriage strong, you must be able to survive with the kids and without them. The empty nest will sting a little as your children leave, but it doesn’t mean that your home and heart won’t still be full.


On Motherhood

Motherhood, When Doubt Creeps In

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

In motherhood, when doubt creeps in, it can be difficult to work through.

Is there any mother in the world who hasn’t gotten to the end of the day and wondered if they’ve failed? Or let’s say your child is 18 and getting ready to leave for college. Do you wonder if you’ve done everything you should have to prepare them for the big bad world?

Have you ever thought to yourself, “What if I am failing as a mother?”

How do we know? We don’t get grade books or reviews. There’s no “rate my parent” site to see how we measure up to other moms and dads. And there are no written rules or guidelines to follow.

In the quiet of the house, late at night, I sometimes worry. Did I hover too much and keep my kids from being as independent as they should be? Did I spoil them too much? Did I ignore them too often because of work, exhaustion, or simply needing some peace and quiet? Will they thrive when I’m gone?

There are days when I feel I should have listened more, should have been more patient. And there are days when I catch glimpses of everything amazing that my kids have learned by being my kid, and I am in awe of who they have become. They are awesome, amazing individuals who are prepared to take on every adventure coming their way.

In motherhood, when doubt creeps in, you have to remind yourself that you are good enough, that your love is the most powerful gift you can give your kids, and that they will be ok – and you will be too. Motherhood is not an easy job, but it really is the most rewarding. In those quiet times when you question how well you’re doing, give your kids another hug, give yourself a little love, and know that you’re doing fine.

Parenting Raising Healthy Kids

Chill Out: We All Are Victims of Parenting “Fails”

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

There seems to be no end to mom-shaming, but really, you should get over yourself. You’re not a better mom than me anymore than I’m a better mom than you. We’ve all had our share of parenting fails. Like the time I was so exhausted while holding my newborn son that he rolled out of my arms and hit the floor and started crying before I even realized I’d fallen asleep holding him. Or the time I lied to Facebook to let my 11-year old have an account because I wanted him to learn how to navigate social media while I still had some control over what he did.

Regardless of how great your mom skills are, it seems there is always someone willing to point out where you’ve gone wrong and what you could have done better. This can be incredibly stressful – and even painful, particularly for new moms who are just trying to do their best. Kids do not come with instruction manuals!!

It can be hard to decipher where helpful advice begins and judgmental opinions that should be disregarded end. It would be so much easier if everyone would just chill out, and let parents make some harmless mistakes along the way.

Mistakes are how we learn, and sometimes, parenting is about survival. There were some days where I happily offered a strong curriculum of ABCs, coloring, and fine motor play. Then other days I relied on Nick Jr. to do most of the work because I was overwhelmed, sick, or simply didn’t have the time. This does not make me a bad parent. I may be a mom, but I’m also human, and I don’t feel bad about the parenting “fails” that happened with my kids.

Too much screen time.

Sometimes my kids watched way more than an hour or two of television. Once they were old enough to navigate a computer, I didn’t hesitate to put on some Sesame Street games and call it educational. In all honesty, some of those TVand computer programs taught my kids when I didn’t have the time or energy, and sometimes, they just kept them out of my hair for 15 minutes so I could get the laundry done. They are all brilliant individuals, so no harm, no foul.

Not enough – or too much – attention.

Life happens in waves, and of course, parenting is the same. There were years I spent as a stay-at-home mom and could dedicate every second to my children, and there were years I was a working mom and only had the evenings and weekends. In both circumstances, I went through different phases. Sometimes I failed to offer enough independence and may have smothered my kids a bit. Other times, freedom was granted because I simply did not have time to balance everything all five kids needed. Should I feel guilty about this? Absolutely not, because every day, I know that I was doing my best.

My kids ate fast food more than they ate organic.

When the kids were young and we were broke, they didn’t eat well. To this day, Kira almost gags at the idea of Hamburger helper, which was a constant staple for a couple of tight years. One of my favorite memories is my youngest son’s first trip to McDonald’s. He was less than a year old, enjoying his first Happy Meal. And when McDonalds offered 39-cent cheeseburgers? You bet we were buying them up in bulk to feed the 7 of us. And the ice cream. Don’t even get me started on the amount of ice cream we have eaten. Today, our kids all eat fairly balanced diets and are healthy individuals. The miles of french fries did not cause an addiction, because at the end of the day, we still sat around a dining room table nearly every night and had a home-cooked meal.

In the end, as long as you do your best and offer love and support, those parenting “fails” aren’t going to doom your children. There will be so many challenges that you will face in parenting, screen time and junk food are not always the priority. Ignore the sanctimommies that demand every kid be fed all organic and limited to 30 minutes of screen time per day. Despite what so many Instagram mommies would have us think, no mom is perfect. If your kids are healthy and loved, you are rocking this parenting thing.

Adult Children Parenting

When Raising Capable Adults, You Don’t Have to Follow All the “Rules”

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I’m not immune to other mom blogs. Quite a few of us roam in the same circles, and I enjoy hearing different views. It’s how we all become better parents, but it’s also the perfect breeding ground for insecurities. Regardless of how old your children are, you will second guess things you did ten years ago, yesterday, and parenting choices you’ll make ten years from now. There are many different types of mothers, and there are times I’m reminded that my views are polar opposites of others.

Nothing like reading an article and convincing myself that I’ve failed, right?

With my two youngest children having eyes focused on college, I’ve come into more articles about raising capable adults. Guess how many of those awesome tips about raising kids into adults I’ve used? None. Que the panic, because Parker is heading to college this fall.

Except, once the panic died down, I realized that all five of my kids are capable. Three of the five are adults that either been to college, the military, had careers, and are living independent lives. Kira is building a life of her own (despite still being under my roof) with a husband and what will be two children. They’re all alive, so I can’t be doing that bad of a job.

There are no hard and fast rules for raising capable adults.

If you’re still doing your teenager’s laundry, they will eventually figure it out in college. Perhaps you cook all the meals just out of ease and habit. Does that mean the second your children move out that they’ll starve? Absolutely not. They’ll find a way to make a meal, even if dinner is peanut butter and jelly until they make desperate calls to you for instructions on how to cook chicken nuggets. The internet has a lot of information, and maybe they will open a recipe tab instead of a YouTube one.

I’m convinced that a lot of learning how to adult is by being an adult. I can teach basic skills like laundry and cooking, but honestly, my kids can always learn that later. I would rather teach my kids other important lessons while they’re under my roof, that are even more important when raising capable adults.





Inner strength.

A sense of adventure.

Their own voice.

The importance of family.

Am I still running forgotten homework and lunches to my last high school student? Guilty. But I’ll leave it to her college professor to handle the next forgotten homework assignment. Let someone else teach simple, but necessary, lessons. I’ll stick to teaching love and kindness to my very capable adults, because honestly, everything else will sort itself out.

Everything Baby Parenting Pregnancy and Your Newborn

I Don’t Have To …

Getting Real with Brittany Tiedemann

Being a Mom is one of the biggest excitements of my life. Watching my baby girl grow and learn new things is a wonderful blessing. Now that my baby is almost 6 months old I have had time to look back at all the thing I thought I had to do but in reality, yup – nope, I didn’t have to.

I don’t have to send out announcements

One thing I thought I had to do was send out those cute fancy baby announcement cards. Over the past few years have received some extremely cute and detailed birth announcements. I had planned what I was going to do, with all the cute and decorative bells and whistles. Well, after having a baby, I have no clue how people get those out. Even if you can do it at Walmart and just add pictures, I would rather just catch up on sleep than do that. Then, by the time you do have time to do them, the baby is already 3 months old. What’s the point then? So yes, I never did that, and I have no regrets. My sanity and sleep those first few months were way more important than getting out cards to people who got pictures from my phone the day she was born.

I don’t have to cut my hair

The Mom Haircut. Oh, this one just makes me laugh so much. I LOVE my long hair. I have cut my hair short twice before, and it just isn’t me. When I was pregnant, everyone would always tease me when I said I wouldn’t cut my hair. “Oh just wait till she can grab it and pull it out!” “You think spit up is bad now, just wait till it gets in your hair.” Well people, let me give you some facts. Yes my child has pulled on it; yes she has pulled out chunks out; spit up has been in my hair more times than I can count. After all that, I still refuse to cut it. I rock a mean ponytail most days. On days that I want to look elegant, I love letting my hair down. Just because I am a mom now doesn’t mean that I have to follow what society thinks I should look like.

I don’t have to pay for professional photos

I really thought that I needed to get newborn photos done professionally. I searched for hours and days to find someone to take them at a reasonable price. Ha! What a joke that was! Most people out here were asking for $200 or more for just one hour. Who knows how many pictures would actually turn out that great in a hour? Plus, how am I suppose to find someone that I LOVE in a place I just moved to a year ago? For a long time, I was upset I never had those cute pictures to post everywhere. After a few months I could not have cared less. I have TONS and TONS of pictures of my newborn baby on my phone. I posed her for some, and others were candid shots that no one other than my husband and I would be able to get. These photos have more meaning to me, as they show a milestone, a memory, and laughable moments. So there is nothing to be upset with saving some money and not having professional photos done. Every photo that you do take will be meaningful.

I don’t have to take advice about what, when, or how to feed my child

Fast forward…my precious baby turned 4 months. At this month, I found out that EVERY human being on earth who saw me had an opinion about food. My husband, doctor, and I decided as a team what was best for my child – and that was waiting until she was 6 months old to start any type of food was best for her. We have our reasons, and we don’t have to explain them to anyone. I know many people who started food with their kids at 4 months, and if that works for them awesome! My child is not going to be missing much. She is still gaining weight, and learning new things. But the minute someone found out our decision to wait until she was 6 months old, they would jump down our throats with how we NEED to feed her real food. So to all you Parents out there, just know that you don’t have to start at 4 months.

I don’t have to be a supermom

After months of struggling with this , I also realized I don’t have to be a Super Mom 24/7. I can break down at times. This time of life things are hard; I am still learning. I can put the baby down for a while to play a video game when I just need a few to collect myself. I have a husband; we are a team! I can easily let him have her for a few hours so I can go out with my friends or just go to the store child free. I don’t have to dress my kid to the nines everyday. There are mornings were I can say,“Well at least we made it in one piece” … even if that means she went to daycare in a onesie from the night before or she is wearing a shirt she spit up on, at least we made it there! Don’t get me wrong; I do try my hardest to do my very, very best. There are just some days were the morning just starts off with a screaming tired baby, and I have to remind myself I don’t have to be Super Mom at the moment.

Learning that there are things I don’t have to do has been awesome. I am an AMAZING MOM, and I will continue to crush this Mom Life and raise a wonderful child.