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Trying to get your child to go to sleep is a challenge that most parents face at some point. Whether you’re putting your little one down for a nap or starting the bedtime process, it can sometimes feel like a battle you aren’t going to win. And even if you do, there’s the staying in bed part that can be even more difficult.


It is very common, especially in toddlerhood, for kids to get out of their bed the moment you leave the room—making the bedtime process feel impossible.

After the 64th time of walking your child back to her bed, you might be wondering how you’ll possibly survive this stage, and what it’s going to take for her to stay put.

As a mom who recently went through this with our school-aged child, I completely understand how taxing and frustrating the whole process can be. Thankfully, being a sleep coach came in handy in our situation, and we were able to use several key phrases that made a huge difference.

Here are 10 of them that you can implement in your household if you’re currently fighting this battle:

1. “I’ll check on you in 10 minutes.”

Rather than waiting for your child to get up and come find you, assure her that you will return in five or 10 minutes to check in. This will help give her a sense of security that you will come back and teach her that it’s okay to want you, but that it is still expected she stays in her bed.

2. “It’s time to sleep now in your bed. I’m going to sleep in my bed too.”

This doesn’t mean you also need to go to bed right away, but assuring your child that you too will be sleeping in your own bed, helps make that connection that beds are for sleep.

3. “You can have one pass tonight if you need one. After that, I won’t be responding to requests unless it is an emergency.”

We all know this trick. Children are put to bed and then suddenly want a glass of milk, another bedtime story, and a pony. While it is important to make sure your child is safe, responding to every single request can draw out the bedtime process. If you allow your child one or two “asks," then it can help him to think a bit more about how often to call out to you.

4. “If you don’t get your sleep tonight, we might not be able to do X activity tomorrow since we will just be too tired.”

This isn’t meant as a threat or punishment, but as a reminder that lack of sleep directly correlates with lack of energy. There are negative effects associated with not sleeping enough, and often our children don’t realize this unless we explain it in a tangible way.

5. “If you stay in your bed tonight, we can do an extra activity tomorrow."

This is not to be used as a bribe or to entice your child to sleep better by rewarding them with treats or other objects. Rather, it emphasizes the direct connection with “more sleep = more energy”—when children have something to look forward to they might take it a bit more seriously.

6. “Can we make it your job to stay in bed tonight and can we count on you to do that?"

Often when we give our kids responsibility it gives them a sense of ownership. Even if it is something as simple as staying in bed, providing them with a “job” to do, can help it feel less scary or overwhelming. You can also ask your child to put his stuffed animals or loveys to bed and have him tell them the same thing.

7. “I know you can do this and I’m here for you."

Despite our frustrations that our children aren’t going to sleep, it is so important that we provide encouragement as much as possible. Our children count on us to be steady and calm and when we model that behavior along with words of affirmation, our children have a much better chance of feeling safe to fall and stay asleep.

8. “What do you need in order to feel safe?”

It is very common for children to have separation anxiety and fear around sleeping alone and it is important to create an opportunity to address those fears. Talking about them and asking the appropriate questions will help your child work through any feelings of fear or anxiety.

9. “If you’re feeling scared it is okay to come get one of us."

School-aged children often have real feelings of fear and night terrors, and when you give them the option of seeking comfort from a parent, it can help them feel relief. I have seen the use of this phrase actually minimize the amount of middle of the night wakings because the child feels less anxious knowing they have our support.

10. “Once the light turns green or the timer goes off, you can go ahead and get out of bed."

The Ok to Wake! clocks or kid-friendly alarms, are a great way to encourage your child to stay in bed until the clock says it’s time. These are typically best to use for the morning hours, but you can also set them for the 10-15 minutes check-ins after going down at bedtime.

There are a few other important factors to consider when using these phrases:

  • Try not to use punishment or lose your temper during the process.
  • Keep dialogue short when responding to call-outs and questions after bedtime.
  • Remember that behavior at bedtime is usually a continuation of how your child behaves throughout the day (e.g., if your child can’t be alone during the day, that isn’t going to change at night).

These phrases can be helpful when managing a child who has a hard time staying in bed, but ultimately taking a look at why the behavior is happening in the first place is important to address the problem at its root.

Your child looks to you for guidance and support in all other areas of life and bedtime isn’t any different. By responding positively, while still implementing firm boundaries, you are helping to establish security and connection—and eventually a better sleeper.

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We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.


The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Many people experience the "winter blues," which are often worst in northern climates from November to March, when people have less access to sunlight, the outdoors and their communities. Another 4% develops Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a form of clinical depression that often requires formal treatment.

If you have the winter blues, you may feel “blah," sad, tired, anxious or be in a worse mood than usual. You may struggle with overeating, loss of libido, work or sleep issues. But fear not—it is possible to find your joy in the winter, mama.

Here are eight ways to feel better:

1. Take a walk

Research has shown that walking on your lunch break just three times per week can reduce tension, relax you and improve your enthusiasm. If you are working from 9 to 5, the only window you have to access natural sunlight may be your lunch hour, so head outside for a 20 minute brisk but energizing walk!

If you are home, bundle up with your kids midday—when the weather is often warmest—and play in the snow, go for a short walk, play soccer, race each other, or do something else to burn energy and keep you all warm. If you dress for the weather, you'll all feel refreshed after some fresh air.

2. Embrace light

Research suggests that a full-spectrum light box or lamp, which mimics sunlight, can significantly improve the symptoms of the winter blues and has a similar effect to an antidepressant. Bright light at a certain time every day activates a part of the brain that can help restore normal circadian rhythms. While light treatment may not be beneficial for everyone (such as people who have bipolar disorder), it may be a beneficial tool for some.

3. Plan a winter trip

It may be helpful to plan a getaway for January or February. Plan to take it very easy, as one research study found that passive vacation activities, including relaxing, "savoring," and sleeping had greater effects on health and well-being than other activities. Engaging in passive activities on vacation also makes it more likely that your health and well-being will remain improved for a longer duration after you go back to work.

Don't overschedule your trip. Relax at a beach, a pool, or a cabin instead of waiting in long roller coaster lines or visiting packed museums. Consider visiting or traveling with family to help with child care, build quiet time into your vacation routine, and build in a day of rest, recovery, and laundry catch-up when you return.

4. Give in to being cozy

Sometimes people mistake the natural slowness of winter as a problem within themselves. By making a concerted effort to savor the slowness, rest and retreat that complement winter, you can see your reduction in activity as a natural and needed phase.

Research suggests that naps help you release stress. Other research suggests that when your brain has time to rest, be idle, and daydream, you are better able to engage in "active, internally focused psychosocial mental processing," which is important for socioemotional health.

Make a "cozy basket" filled with your favorite DVDs, bubble bath or Epsom salts, lemon balm tea (which is great for “blues,") or chamomile tea (which is calming and comforting), citrus oils (which are good for boosting mood), a blanket or a favorite book or two. If you start to feel the blues, treat yourself.

If your child is napping or having quiet time in the early afternoon, rest for a full 30 minutes instead of racing around doing chores. If you're at work, keep a few mood-boosting items (like lavender spray, tea, lotion, or upbeat music) nearby and work them into your day. If you can't use them at work, claim the first 30 minutes after your kids are asleep to nurture yourself and re-energize before you tackle dishes, laundry, or other chores.

5. See your friends

Because of the complex demands of modern life, it can be hard to see or keep up with friends or family. The winter can make it even harder. While you interact with your kids throughout the day, human interaction with other adults (not just through social media!) can act as a protective layer to keep the winter blues at bay.

Plan a monthly dinner with friends, go on a monthly date night if you have a partner, go to a book club, get a drink after work with a coworker, visit a friend on Sunday nights, or plan get-togethers with extended family. Research suggests that social interactions are significantly related to well-being.

Realize that given most families' packed schedules, you may need to consistently take the lead in bringing people together. Your friends will probably thank you, too.

6. Get (at least) 10 minutes of fresh air

A number of research studies have shown positive effects of nature on well-being, including mental restoration, immune health, and memory. It works wonders for your mood to get outside in winter, even if it's just for 10 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. You might walk, snowshoe, shovel, go sledding or go ice-skating. If you can't get outside, you might try these specific yoga poses for the winter blues.

7. Add a ritual

Adding a ritual to your winter, such as movie night, game night, hot chocolate after playing outside, homemade soup on Sundays, or visiting with a different friend every Saturday morning for breakfast, can add beauty and flow to the seemingly long months of winter. Research has suggested that family rituals and traditions, such as Sunday dinner, provide times for togetherness and strengthening relationships.

8. Talk to a professional

Counseling, which helps you identify the connections between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, can be extremely helpful for the winter blues (especially when you are also experiencing anxiety or stress). A counselor can assist you with identifying and honoring feelings, replacing negative messages with positive ones, or shifting behaviors. A counselor may also help you indulge into winter as a time of retreat, slowness, planning, and reflecting. You may choose to use the winter to get clear on what you'd like to manifest in spring.

The opposite of the winter blues is not the absence of the winter blues—it's taking great pleasure in the unique contribution of a time of cold, darkness, retreat, planning, reflecting, being cozy and hibernating. Nurturing yourself and your relationships can help you move toward winter joy.

Weary mama,

You are incredibly strong. You are so very capable.

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