Ask Liann: Classic Baby Girl Names

Hi Liann,

Please help! My husband and I are having trouble choosing a name for our future daughter, due in October 2014. We were stuck on Evelyn for awhile, but not sure about it. Then Amy came into both of our heads — but still, not sure. I love classic names like Margaret, but my husband isn't a big fan.


— Lucy

Hi Lucy,

Congrats on the upcoming birth of your daughter! Let's see if we can come up with some names you feel more confident about.

Evelyn, Amy and Margaret are all lovely. Evelyn and Margaret make me think of names like Katherine and Cecelia, whereas Amy makes me think of names like Jessica and Deborah. Do any of these peak your interest?

Even if they don't — if you're leaning more in one direction than the other, it can give you a good starting point to continue your search. So let's do that. I'll make two lists — one inspired by Evelyn and Margaret, and one inspired by Amy.

Another direction you could take is to find a classic name you love that has a nickname your husband loves. You said that you love Margaret, but your husband isn't a fan. Well Margaret happens to be a name with many, many nicknames: Maggie, Maisie, Daisy, Molly, Polly, Peggy, and Greta (to name a few). Some are dated, yes, but I just want to show you the extent of the options.

Same thing for Katherine: Kate, Katie, Kathy, Kit, Kitty, Kay, and Kat are all accepted nicknames for Katherine. Exploring the nicknames can be just as fun and productive when searching for a name.

Do you have any ideas for the middle name? This can also help narrow down a list by eliminating names that don't work with the chosen middle name, or names that produce unflattering initials with the middle and last names. Then you can focus on the few names that work.

Good luck with the rest of your search, and I hope you let us know what you decide when your little girl arrives!

— Liann

Do you have a baby name question or dilemma? Contact Liann.

EM Advice: Sleep Training Pressure

Three Universal Truths of New Mommyhood:

1. You want to do what's best for your baby.

2. You have no idea what's best for your baby.

3. Everyone thinks they know what's best for your baby, and whooooooo-boy they'll school you on it.

If you have people around you who are like, "Trust your instincts," "You're doing a great job," "This is hard for everyone, you're doing your best," then kiss them square on the mouth.Because that's not what most young moms have, right?

A lot of us have, "You HAVE to do this" and "You SHOULD be doing that," all the live long day. This happens to most new moms, mind you, but when you have a shiny youthful inexperience, people can get even more aggressive with their well-intentioned words of wisdom. Or maybe we just take it more personally. Or maybe we have less peer-like moms to lean on. Or maybe our parents/older relatives still see us as very tall children.

Raise your hand if you've heard one of these:

You hafta put some cereal in that bottle, then he'll sleep!

You need to have some formula in the house, just in case.

Babies NEED pacifiers! // That toddler should NOT have a pacifier!

Cloth diapers?!, said with shock and disgust. Great, I'll have the smelly grandson.

(Dear Family: Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)

Sleep training — or sleep, in general — is like the mecca of SHOULDs and MUSTs and HELPs. To be fair, sleep deprivation leaves us an emotionally raw version of our former selves, where even the slightest breeze could knock us into a full-on breakdown. But it could have something to do with the fact people have been asking us, "How does the baby sleep?!" or "How long is he sleeping at night now?" from the jump — as if hours slept is some sort of performance measure of our parenting.

You have a baby who sleeps through the night? CONGRATULATIONS! A+ to you, mama.

Or maybe it has something to do with the absurd EXTREMES we take in predicting the consequences of our sleep-training decisions. Like, it's not enough to predict what a child might be like in the next few weeks — we have to warn exhausted parents that, sure, go ahead and let a kid cry-it-out (::behind open hand:: If you don't mind raising a sociopath).

Same goes for the flip side. Oh, you still rock your baby to sleep? You're not at all concerned about that life-long dependence keeping him awake at night in his dorm room?

An Early Mama reader recently asked for advice in our private Facebook group about sleep concerns, and it made me remember how much pressure we can feel to make the "right choice" as new moms — especially about sleep.

Hey mamas! I think I need some help...I’m 19, so of course I’ve been receiving endless advice since pregnancy — letting her fall asleep [by] herself in her crib, they can’t be “spoiled” until they’re a few months old, etc. But I’m not so sure about that last part anymore. My daughter is now 2 months old, and most nights I have to nurse, hold, or rock (in rocking bassinet) to sleep. If we lay her in the crib even just drowsy, she cries and eventually screams and chokes until she’s picked up and soothed. We wrap her, we make sure she’s comfortable, fed, everything. Plus we live with family so we can’t just let her cry all night. But I don’t think I can do this much longer!! Our bedtime routine sometimes can take hours, even if she’s exhausted. Any advice, tips, experience? Please and thank you in advance!
— Katelyn

Katelyn doesn't know that there are other moms out there rocking and nursing their 2-month-old babies for hours before bedtime. She doesn't know if she's doing something right, or something wrong, or whose advice to follow. But after reading so many other member's advice and personal anecdotes, she came to this conclusion:

Thanks mamas for all of your great advice! I’ve decided that if I have to cuddle my sweet baby to sleep, then so be it, because she won’t be tiny forever and we both need to rest. I’ll worry about spoiled later, lol.

I think that's such a loving, nurturing conclusion — one that takes care of herself as well as her baby. And I just love that she could get that kind of support from Early Mama readers — women who understand the experience of being a young mom.

Considering not all readers are in our private group (or maybe you missed this thread), I wanted to share some of the advice Katelyn got. I'm also including my own response, from a different perspective.

When that happens to us, we load up our son and either go for a walk or a drive. We are out of the house (lets others sleep), and it puts our son to sleep, too. Have you tried that?
— Lydia
When you’ve tried everything and nothing works, try less bundling. Babies in Western life get too hot and can’t sleep. I know it’s against most people’s advice but keeping baby a little cooler (and fresh air- walks in stroller too) really do work.
— Nicole
I know my advice will probably be against what most others have given you, but, when my baby was that young (against the advice of my family) if he cried I held him! A lot of his freaking out in the crib was him not wanting to be separated from me. Have you tried the bassinet right next to you so she can hear your breathing and sense that you are close? Then maybe you can transition to the crib later? I agree with everything posted above me, I just thought I would add this. I had no idea either about baby bedtime routines but once I stopped listening to well intentioned advice from family and did what I felt was right, things stared to go a lot smoother. I don’t believe that babies can be spoiled, what I do believe is they spent 9 months living inside your body and growing accustomed to your every move and sound and so when they come out they get scared when you aren’t around. Even just a few feet away feels like a whole lot to a tiny baby. Like I said, my advice is probably not the most popular, but once I started having him near me at night when he was very new, we both slept a whole lot better! Good luck! I know it’s difficult and there are a ton of people who want to help pulling you every way, but listen to your instincts because you are her mama
— Megan
I had this was like the moment she left my body she was crying...we used to put her swaddle blankets in the dryer before we put her to bed then she wouldn’t know when she left the warmth of my body
— Nikki
Every stage is a short stage so do whatever you want!! If you want to hold and spoil the baby... Do it! Every baby is different so do what you as mommy feel is best!
— Ashley

Lucy suggested bouncing on an exercise ball, Emily suggested the Gentle Parenting International FB Group, Stacy uses a small bed in between her and her husband while she's nursing, and Jessica said to make sure her baby gets enough rest during the day. (I personally found that life got much easier when I made sure baby Noah wasn't overtired — meaning tuning into his sleep cues and putting him down BEFORE he was getting too tired, about every two hours.)

And Liann has recommended the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" on several sleep-related threads, and I totally agree with her.

Here's my two cents on the thread:

Sleep training was brutal on me and it took FOREVER for Noah to fall asleep without needing me nearby. He's an anxiety-prone kid, for sure — looking back, I can see that in him as a baby, too. He had night terrors a lot and exhibited real fear being alone in the dark. Maybe some babies don't have as much of that fear, but Noah definitely did.

And, to be honest, I didn't mind snuggling him to sleep. I CHERISH those moments and memories, even to this day. He's 5 years old now and I still lay down with him every night until he falls asleep. I know that sounds like some kind of failure, but it's one of our most special times in the day. We have some of our best conversations snuggled up together as he's getting sleepy, and a little inquisitive, and the deep emotional stuff comes up. That's when he asks me some of his best questions and we have some of the best talks. It's where we've bonded in a way that he hasn't with anyone else.

I didn't even start thinking about sleep training until 4 months (I think that's the standard time they say to start). After a brief stint sleep training, I still ended up shushing and rocking and nursing him to sleep. I'd even hang over his crib and hold his hand until he fell asleep. It was way more time consuming back then, of course. Now I just cuddle him and hold his hand in a twin-sized bed, and he's out within minutes.

I can see the end ahead, friends. He won't want me in his bed forever, so I'm enjoying this innocence and sweetness while it's still here. I think that "nurturing" and "spoiling" (or "indulging") are two different things. To me, snuggling and comforting and bonding is on the side of nurture. Like whatever helps the kid and family be comfortable and rested is nurturing — maybe that's sleep training. Some kids don't like to snuggle at all, and they need their space to decompress and fall asleep. At 2 months old? Trust your instincts and just love. She'll be completely different in 3 months, and then 3 months after that. You're in such an exhausting time period, but it'll change soon. Just love.

Did you feel pressured to sleep train? Did sleep training work for you? Any tips for Katelyn?

For more advice on co-sleeping, sleep training, and shared sleep struggles, request to join our private group.


I'm a Recovering Codependent

My name is Michelle, and I'm a recovering codependent.

Hiiiiii, Michelle.

If you would have asked me a year ago, "Do you have codependency issues?", I would've scoffed and immediately said no. No no no, I'm far too independent to be codependent. I'm not needy or smothering. I'm actually quite well-adjusted, it's the other people in my life that have the issues.

(The fact that I always seemed to have a steady stream of "other people with issues" in my life? Clue #1 to my codependency.)

Turns out I had no idea what codependency actually is, or how deeply it's affected my life. And yet researching "codependency" and seeking out therapy has been the most profound turning point in my life.

In the next few weeks, I want to dive a little deeper into what exactly codependency is and how it's affecting our relationships, our parenting, and our well-being. Codependency is something that we learn from one or both of our parents, which was learned from their parents, which was learned...(you get it). Codependency is the root of so much family and personal dysfunction, and it's often masked as "love" or "selflessness" or "being a good wife."

What it really means is that we have issues with boundaries, control, self-esteem, and knowing how we feel/think. We're often people-pleasers with a severe inability to love and care for ourselves. But other people? Wheewwww, we're the BEST at taking care of other people. We take care of people without ever being asked to; we take care of people at the expense of ourselves. The problem: Caretaking doesn't actually help anyone.

Codependents are also famous for absorbing and reacting to other people's thoughts and feelings. Does your husband or boyfriend's mood dictate your day or mood? Do you have a hard time detaching from your loved one's problems without feeling responsible to "help" or "fix" or "rescue"? Do you blame other people for making you feel a certain way? Do you ever offer your help and then feel angry or resentful because LOOK HOW MUCH YOU DO FOR EVERYONE?!

If you answered "yes" to any of these things, then you might be a codependent.

Are you a perfectionist? Do you have issues with shame, guilt, or saying "no" to people? Do you chronically put your needs and wants at the bottom of your to-do list, in the name of being a good wife and mother? Do you attract and allow damaged, dysfunctional people into your lives? Are you married to someone with an addiction?

Then you might be a codependent.

I'm working on several posts about codependency — including how to recognize it in your relationship and parenting style — but I wrote a basic overview for to better illustrate what codependency is, where it comes from, and what we can do to prevent our children from being sucked into the cycle.

Whether you think codependency applies to you or not, it's rampantly common in the most subtle, unconscious ways. If you want to know more about the subject immediately, I suggest getting into your car, driving to your nearest library, and checking out any and all books by Melody Beattie. I've read everything she's written on the subject, but her latest book — The New Codependency — is the most eye-opening and helpful self-help book I've ever read.

Also, if you're struggling with this issue and/or you're dealing with addiction in your marriage, please feel free to reach out to me. I'm not an expert — I'm still dealing with these issues on a day-by-day basis — but there's nothing more powerful than support.

The one thing I've learned through all of this is that the most important thing we can do for our relationship and our children is to be our healthiest self. We have to love ourselves, be kind to ourselves, and make ourselves a priority — starting with our own recovery.

It's Only For Now

"Life may be scary, but it's only temporary." 

Never have a bunch of muppets made so much sense. I don't know if you're familiar with Avenue Q, but my friend told me that their song "For Now" got her through an especially rough break-up, and it's been stuck in my head ever since.

When life gets hard, and the day/season feels unending, and it all just feels unfair, maybe this muppet-sung song can help shift your perspective:

To the mom with a baby attached to her nipple every hour...

To the young woman scanning through a Newsfeed filled with former friends living the 20-something life, while she paces back and forth soothing a colicky baby...

To anyone sacrificing showers or paychecks or meaningful conversations to muscle through this exhausting season...

Hey you, catching vomit in your hands.

Hey you, wondering if you'll ever feel like yourself again.

Hey you, dropping your beating heart off at daycare and feeling torn from the insides out.

It's only for now.

The pacifiers, the diapers, the sleep regression, the new-mom exhaustion, the confusion, the engorgement, the anxiety, the peacefulness of a sleeping newborn...

To anyone feeling lonely, bored, joyful, unsatisfied, tired, healthy, grief-stricken, angry, uncomfortable...

"Nothing lasts

Life goes on

Full of surprises

You'll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes

You're going to have to make a few compromises

…for now.

For now.

But only for now.

                             —Avenue Q

The crazy thing is how permanent and overwhelming each stage feels, right? Like, THIS IS MY LIFE NOW. THIS IS IT. AHHHHHH.

Well, yes. But only for now.

Life sucks right now? IT'S ONLY FOR NOW. It'll get easier, and then harder, and then better, and then more difficult. 'Tis the nature of life.

Life is working out perfectly and you're so crazy happy? IT'S ONLY FOR NOW. Enjoy these moments and soak it all up, because it'll get harder, and then easier, and then better, and then more difficult. 'Tis the nature of life.

Your bad mood is temporary.

Your college class is temporary. 

Your honeymoon phase is temporary.

Believe it or not, that colic is temporary. 

The impermanence of life is the only thing we know for sure. Do you find that scary? Because I find it LIBERATING. And resisting this reality is nothing but futile. Things will continue to change and bob up and down — how are you going to handle the NOW? 

As the Avenue Q muppets say, "Take a breath, look around, swallow your pride. For now."

Because it's only for now. 

Smile Bravely, Proudly

This is a sponsored post from Invisalign, and you have the chance to win a new smile.

You deserve to feel confident, beautiful, uninhibited — in all aspects of your life. As a mother, as a woman, as a person.

If you got pregnant at an exceptionally young age, you might already feel a certain kind of social uncomfortableness in class or out in the grocery store. Apparently the combination of growing belly + young face forms a blinking neon sign above your head that reads, "Tell me how sorry you are for me!"

You don't want anything highlighting your youth more than your face already does. (Maybe you lie about your age, or you secretly wish for a wrinkle or two around the eyes.) If you keep your smile hidden because you're embarrassed of your teeth, the last thing you might want is braces. No young mom wants to look younger, amirite?

And yet — don't you deserve to feel confident and to share your smile freely, generously? Shouldn't you throw up a big "W" hand signal to the world? WHAT-EVER.

When Invisalign approached me about their "Invisalign Teen," I knew there had to be a few teen moms out there who could use this nudge. Maybe you missed the boat on traditional braces — maybe your family couldn't afford them, or you opted out of the scary orthodontist chair — and it's a major regret. Invisalign Teen can fix anything from severe teeth straightening issues and overbites to minor cosmetic adjustments without that social awkwardness that shaves 5 years off your already young-looking face.

Listen, I'm all for doing whatever you need to do to feel confident and beautiful — metal and brackets and all. Forget what anyone says or thinks; it's your mouth and your life. All I'm saying is that you have options. Why let your self-esteem take more of a hit than it already has?

The good news is that Invisalign Teen is covered by most dental policies, similar to braces. If you're already considering braces, invisible braces cost about the same. If you don't have insurance, most doctors will work with you on a monthly finance plan that you can afford. (Find an Invisalign doctor here.)

Maybe you don't need braces yourself, but you have a preteen who could use some teeth straightening. Take the Invisalign Smile Assessment to see if Invisalign Teen could work for you.

Enter to win a FREE Invisalign Treatment

You can follow Invisalign on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Go on and invest in your confidence and happiness. It'll be worth it.

Recommended Reading: Favorite Posts

After years of writing about fashion, beauty, baby gear, or political nonsense, I'm so grateful to finally be making a living writing things I want to be writing. Not to knock any of those genres — it was fun, for sure — but, as a writer, I'm proud of the work I've been producing. And that's a good feeling.

For those of you who don't know, I also write weekly for and And in case you don't follow each and every move I make (how dare you), here are some of my recent posts. Check 'em out, if you'd like:

The Day the Dandelions Stop Coming


Fun fact: According to my author profile, I've written a whopping 8,912 posts for the site. Wowza!

Anywho, I hope you enjoy them. I regularly give my articles a shout-out via social media, so check me out there if you'd like to read more. (And don't forget to join our private Facebook group for some not-so-public early mama talk.)

Shop + Save at Schoola: Special Discount


For the first time in his (short) life, my 5-year-old love muffin has a preference on what he wears and how he looks. He has favorite t-shirts, a favorite pair of shorts, a favorite pair of underwear even. He also decided to grow his hair long ("to my shoulders") — inspired by a Mr. John Lennon — and so every night he carefully combs his wet hair, perfecting his look.

He's also going to Kindergarten in three short weeks (gasp), and I want to get some new back-to-school clothes to start the new year.

But have you seen how expensive kids' clothes can be? As for finding a reputable location for hand-me-down/budget-friendly clothes that don't look so (ahem) "hand-me-down," good luck. Unless you live in a big city or happen to majorly luck out in your community, thrift shopping can be a major miss.

And yet our generation of parents has something that no past generation has had: eBay, Instagram sales, and well-edited efforts like Schoola.

Now I'm not just saying this because it's a sponsored post — I truly believe in this company, and I'm excited for you to see for yourself. All you have to do is browse the site — read about their mission, their impressive percentages that get donated to a good cause, their vast selection of kids' clothes of all sizes. Many have the tags still on, and many are from reputable brands like H&M, Mini Boden, GAP, Old Navy, and Abercrombie.

To give you an idea of the selection, here are a bunch of 5T boys' clothes for Noah, all from Schoola. All of these clothes are $10 or less — most under $5:


Right?!? And good news...

Until August 20th, you can snag a 20% discount to shop at Schoola using the code Back2Schoola20.

AND REMEMBER! 40% of each purchase goes to a school's art or music program, and a percentage of the proceeds from your donated clothes will go to a local school of your choice.


PLUS Early Mama readers will automatically donate money to my school of choice, the KIPP Academy in the Bronx, by simply requesting a donation bag or purchasing clothes using this link. (Read more about the campaign here.)

So go on! Save a little money on clothes you'll need anyway; do a little good in the process. It's a win, win all around.

This post is brought to you by Schoola, the best place to buy discounted kids clothes all while give back to schools in need. Click here to learn more about Schoola. Click here to see what people are saying.

To All the Young Moms


I hear I'm going to ruin my life.

I hear it about other girls, too. I hear it as a warning — from my parents, from my teachers, from TV Dads having heart-to-hearts with their TV daughters.

"You just have so much potential. Don't allow yourself to get pregnant and ruin your entire future."

I hear it in whispers, in punchlines. Some nights — after I settle down from a hectic day of classes, doctor's appointments, working, studying — I even hear it from my own brain.

I see it, too. I see it on PSA billboards, and in reality TV shows, Internet comment sections, snarky Facebook rants. I see it in your raised eyebrows and uncomfortable reactions. Why does "congratulations" feel so inappropriate to say? 

News spreads fast; people are wondering if I'm going to "keep it."

I don't feel ready. Aren't I supposed to feel ready? Wouldn't a "good mom" be ready?

It's funny, but I don't feel like a statistic — you know? I feel like an individual person with a deep capacity to love and nurture and grow. But they tell me I'm too young to know any better — that every young person thinks they know it all. They tell me it should be illegal for anyone under 30 to get married, and that I'll regret having a baby too soon.

Maybe they're right. Maybe they know something I don't. Maybe this has been doomed from the start.

Maybe I can't do this.

I can't do this.

You can do this.

The fact that you worry if you'll be a good mom — the fact that you're reading this right now, concerned about your future and your child's life — suggests that you'll be just fine.

The fact that you care puts you miles ahead of some parents.

They're right about one thing, though: You are young. And because of your lack of life experience, perhaps you haven't had an opportunity to get rattled off the society-conditioned track you've been traveling for two decades. It's a comfortable ride — guided by a list of "shoulds" and fear-based warnings, and by sensible adults who hand out blueprints for life (Summary: Go to college, find a safe job, meet "the one," and live happily ever after). According to this blueprint, you must get your partying and "me decade" out of the way. You should "find yourself" before settling down. You should get all of your goals and accomplishments done before strapping yourself down with kids.

Maybe you don't know that your goals and priorities will shift with time — and having a child just might be the motivator you never knew you needed. Maybe you don't realize that it's possible to "find yourself" in unexpected life twists, scary changes, difficult moments.

Maybe you don't know that the blueprint is imaginary, and that all of these boxes we draw around people — identities, stereotypes, assumptions — are made of bullshit. Like, actual bullshit. Who knew!

young mom

And when people project their own fears and deep-set cultural beliefs onto you, it's not personal. It's not about you; it can't be. Because no one can possibly know how your life will unfold, and how motherhood will change you. They can't know what lessons you'll learn, how much self-awareness you'll harness, how a shift in perspective and lifestyle will affect you. Heck, I can't tell you these things, either.

Sure, you might have difficult moments — seasons, even — but that doesn't mean your life is doomed for misery and regret. You could be consumed by "what-ifs" and believe the negative self-talk, if you allow it. And maybe you do have unique obstacles and challenges that older parents don't have — but every life path has those. Highs and lows, perks and drawbacks.

There are no dead ends. This is not your dead end.


You have more control over your life than they'll have you believe.

Trust your instincts. Tune out the unproductive distractions.

You can do this.

The only way you'll ruin your life is if you believe that it's already ruined.

You Just Do It

"But you were so great pregnant. You were happy and healthy, you always worked out and ate really well. You took care of yourself."

This is how my husband remembers my pregnancy — the same pregnancy that I always depict as being plagued with denial and darkness. And the truth is, we're both right.

The beginning of my pregnancy was hard, man. Emotionally hard. And maybe that emotional trauma got singed into my brain — it's what connects me to your emails and comments about our shared "WTF this isn't happening to me" moments.

But that's the thing: They're moments.

I know that when you email me, you're in desperate need of venting. I know how conflicted you feel (because you flat-out tell me how conflicted you feel), and I understand that it will pass. It always does.

Honestly, I did have a great pregnancy. My body seemed to be made for it — I felt at peace with myself, even if I was really in a deeper state of denial about what was happening. But it wasn't the kind of denial that made me ignore the pregnancy or pretend it wasn't happening. Quite the opposite. Going through the motions meant finding a midwife practice (after getting health insurance, of course — we can discuss that stress another time), obsessively eating healthy and balanced food, regularly exercising, researching baby stuff, contemplating baby names, making a scrapbook that — to this day — I never finished. But now, looking back, I realize that there was a teeny tiny voice in the back of my mind that reassured me with lies: This isn't really happening. You won't really have a baby. This is all pretend.

Don't get me wrong though — I still enjoyed most of the pregnancy. I was in love, newly engaged (ahem), with all sorts of nervous energy that flip-flopped from scared to anxious to excited. I got my tush out of bed every morning and hit the gym — for the baby. I tracked his weekly development and spread the news about what size fruit he was (a peach! he's a PEACH, you guys!). It was an exciting transitional phase.

Looking back or looking forward, things always seem harder than they actually were/will be. That's because when we're in the thick of it — when shit is real and happening and in the moment — it becomes the only normal we know.

"How did we do it?!" I asked Justin. I was referring to the scramble for jobs during my pregnancy, the last-minute moving to accommodate a new person, the doctor's appointments and daycare hunting and breast pumping and long sleepless nights. HOW DID WE DO IT?

"We just did it," he said, casually.

And that's about all there is to it.

It's so tempting to freak out about all of the "what ifs" in the future and dwell on the hardships in the past, but the truth is, you'll just do it.

It will be normal. It will be temporary. You'll get through it all.

You'll just do it — and you'll be grateful that you did.

Early Mamas Doing Good: Help Kids Rock

It's easy to dwell on all of the things we can't give our kids. Maybe we can't afford fancy private schools, or Mandarin tutors, or even a full back-to-school wardrobe of new clothes.

But we can give them access to art and music and unbounded creativity. We can give our kids an opportunity to find a language more valuable than Mandarin — a language that connects all cultures and tax brackets. A language that speaks to their deeper humanity.

For me, there's nothing more important than creative programs — especially for disadvantaged kids. Something like music or painting (or writing!) gives kids an outlet, an escape, an even playing field. And so when this sponsored post idea came my way, I knew it was something that Early Mamas would want to know about.

That's because the organization Schoola sells outgrown children's clothes (which, really, is the best way to buy children's clothes on a budget) and uses that money to fund art programs for at-need schools.


You know you have bags of outgrown clothes stacked in the closet. You know you'll eventually stop by the mall to pick up new jeans or Fall dresses once the weather cools down. So together — as one loving group of Early Mamas — we can all help fund a school's music program.

Early Mama is partnering with Schoola to help fund KIPP Academy's music program — a small school in the Bronx, close to my home and close to my heart. (I was born in the Bronx and formed my earliest memories on those sidewalks.) KIPP Academy has 95% of its students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch, and 1 in 7 students receive special education services. And they desperately need funding for their music program.

These are the kids who need music in their lives. The empowering, uplifting affects of learning an instrument and immersing themselves in the language.

So here's the deal:

If you simply request a donation bag, they'll donate $1 to KIPP Academy.

If you make a purchase using this link, they'll donate another $1 to the program.

PLUS (!!!) when you donate clothes, you'll fill out your child's school information and $2 of every $5 will go to your child's school (or whatever school you want to support).

So basically everyone wins here: Empty out your closet, get a fresh batch of clothes on a budget, and donate funds to your kid's school AND the KIPP Academy. You don't even need to buy anything to help — simply request a donation bag.

(Please use the links in this post, as they're tracking our purchases and donation bags.)

So go forth and do good, Early Mamas.

Let's help all the kids rock on.

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by Schoola, the best place to buy discounted kids clothes while giving back to schools in need. Click here to learn more about Schoola. Click here to see what people are saying.