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Toddlers are adorable, hilarious and can be so sweet. So why is it that they get such a bad wrap? They're also strong-willed, resist anyone trying to control them and can throw the most epic tantrums (almost as if they don't care that everyone in the grocery store is staring at you).

These tantrums are frequently about the basics—they're hungry, tired or sick, but are unable to identify, much less express, what they need at that moment.

If those basic needs are met, though, tantrums are often about control. Making some simple tweaks to your home can give your child more of a sense of control and autonomy that can extend away from home.

This takes some time up front, but so much less time and energy than daily power struggles and the resulting tantrums.

Here are some simple home changes to try.

1. Place two outfit choices on a low closet shelf

Getting dressed is a common trigger for tantrums. This is sometimes because a child feels rushed or senses that the parent wants them to get dressed quickly, so naturally, they take as long as possible, questioning and fighting each step of the process.

Tantrums also arise around getting dressed though because toddlers want to feel a sense of choice and autonomy around their bodies, and this includes what they wear. However, allowing your child to fully select their own outfit each morning through could take forever. Instead, set up a low shelf in his closet where you place two outfit choices the night before.

Explain that they can always choose from these selections, but if they refuse to choose, you'll have to help. Limited choice gives toddlers a sense of empowerment, without being overwhelming. Placing the choices in the same place each day helps your little one understand the limits around the process.

2. Create a guide for routines

Power struggles sometimes arise because toddlers are simply tired of being told what to do. No one likes feeling bossed around, but this is a problem when we need our young children to complete basic tasks in order for our lives and family to function.

Try creating a picture guide for your basic daily routines, perhaps one for getting ready for school and one for getting ready for bed. Take a photo representing each step that needs to happen, from getting dressed to brushing teeth.

Explain the guide and show your child how to use it a few times. Then, when they're stalling, direct them to the guide, saying something like, "Hmm, you seem stuck. Let's go check your picture guide to see what needs to happen next."

This creates the sense that you're working together toward a common goal, rather than continually asking your child to do what you want.

3. Have cleaning supplies readily accessible

Toddlers come with lots of messes. Part of this is because they aren't fully coordinated yet and tend to create a lot of spills, and partly because they are still in the depths of sensory exploration and are truly curious as to what will happen if they cover their bodies in paint or dump their cheerios on the floor. What will it sound like? How far will the spill go?

While this is a natural part of toddlerhood, it is also reasonable to expect your toddler to participate in the cleanup process.

Instead of getting mad that you have to clean up yet another spill, tell your toddler what you observed, and direct them to their own cleaning supplies, which could be kept on a shelf in the kitchen, in their room or in a closet that they know how to open.

You might say, "I see lots of paint on the floor. Are you going to use your mop or your spray bottle and towel to clean it up?" They will still need help with the mess but will be much more likely to participate in the clean up if they feel some ownership over the process and supplies.

4. Place their own dishes on a low kitchen shelf

Get rid of the battle over which cup they get for milk once and for all by putting the dishes where your child can reach them. If you have space, designate a low shelf or drawer in the kitchen to hold their plates, cups and napkins. If they have quite a few dishes, put a manageable selection on the shelf.

Ask them to choose their own dishes and bring them to their spot at the table. Then, ask for help to empty the dishwasher and put their own dishes away on the shelf.

Taking yourself out of the equation can be a powerful way to mitigate power struggles and this can often be done by simply putting the things your child needs within their reach.

5. Provide fewer toys, each with a clear place

When toys shift from teethers and rattles to baskets of blocks with so many pieces, the mess can get a little out of control and parents can become frustrated picking up the same toys each day.

It's reasonable, and beneficial, to expect your toddler to help pick up their own things, but this can only be successful if there is a clear sense of order they can follow. If they are struggling to clean up, try cutting back on the toys in their room. Put some away in a closet and rotate them every month or so.

Make sure everything has a clear place where it belongs, then model putting things away each and every time they're done playing with them.

You may ask them to help you or you could let them watch as you clean up. Either way, they will get used to the lack of chaos, become accustomed to how their room looks and feels when everything is in its place, and will soon follow your lead.

Consider other solutions

Montessori wrote a lot about how you can't change the child, but you can change the environment. These simple tweaks can make any home more toddler-friendly, but you can also apply this same principle to your unique situation.

Take some time to think about the most common power struggles in your home. When are the tantrums occurring?

Is it when you need to make dinner and desperately want your toddler to entertain themselves?

Try setting up a little table by the kitchen where they can play next to you and save certain fun activities, like play dough or stickers, that only come out when you're working in the kitchen.

Is it when it's time for a nap, but they just needs one more book?

Try designating a special spot like a comfy pillow where you sit together to read books—the same number each day. Lay out the books on the pillow ahead of time so the limit is very clear.

Is it when you finally convinced them to get in the bathtub and now they refuse to get out?

Use a set of visual cues each night when the end of bath time is near. Lay out a towel on the bath mat, let the water start to drain. Set out the bottle of lotion you'll put on when they're dry. These steps give them a warning that bath time is almost over.

No matter what the power struggle or tantrum is about, it is always worth looking at your home environment to determine if there's anything you can tweak to make things easier, for both you and your toddler. Often really small changes can lead to a much more peaceful day with your little one.

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


This article was sponsored by Lovevery. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Summertime is here, mamas! And while we couldn't be more thrilled about beach outings and pool days, both of those activities require one major thing—getting into a bathing suit. No easy feat when you're not pregnant (FYI: we tested many and these are our favorite five), but it's even tougher when you are prego and your body is changing daily.

To help, we've rounded up 15 super-cute maternity bathing suit options for you.

From sweet one-pieces (like Old Navy's watermelon-pattered cutie that has matching options for dads, toddlers and girls!) to color-blocked bikinis that will ensure your bump gets nice and tan, we've got something to fit every mama's personal style and body. Because we want you to love your pregnant body and celebrate it—you know the saying: Sun's out… bumps out!

The best part? They start at just $22! Happy shopping, mamas.

1. Motherhood Maternity ruffle front one-shoulder swimsuit with UPF 50+

Motherhood Maternity One-Shoulder Swim

Super flattering with a ruffle and in navy polka dots, this suit will be your go-to all summer long.

Price: $39.98

SHOP

2. Hatch Antigua maillot

Hatch Antigua

Did we mention we love ruffles? This beauty from Hatch is sweet as can be, and while it's on the pricier side, the quality is there and it will last you multiple pregnancies.

Price: $218

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3. ASOS Design maternity recycled glam high-neck swimsuit

Asos maternity high neck swim

Who says you need to be in a boring black bathing suit all summer? Let's embrace color (and some sexy drama!) with this high-neck suit that will have everyone asking where on Earth you found such a fun maternity look.

Price: Sale $33.50 (Regularly $48.00)

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4. Motherhood Maternity 'Beach Bump' maternity one-piece swimsuit with UPF 50+

Beach Bump Swim

This suit is anything but plain with it's adorable "beach bump" sign.

Price: $39.98

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5. H&M Mama swimsuit

H&M Mama Swim

Spice up your pool days with this super fun pattern that is also super flattering—after all, it's hard to spot flaws with all that leopard going on. The wrapped top, low-cut back and ruched siding all add to why we love this one so much.

Price: $29.99

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6. Hatch color-block bikini frutto

Hatch Colorblock Bikini

Show off the bump in this color-blocked bikini that looks like something straight out of the 1950s.

Price: $208.00

SHOP

7. H&M Mama swimsuit with ruffles

H&M Mama Swim

Bohemian perfection, this suit is perfectly on-trend for the season.

Price: Sale $24.99 (Regularly $34.99)

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8. A Pea in a Pod rib knit striped maternity one-piece swimsuit

A Pea in a Pod Striped Swim

Preppy but also a little bit sexy thanks to the cleavage-baring peephole, this suit screams "summer" in the best way possible.

Price: $98.00

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9. Summersalt Maternity ribbed voyager bikini top + bottom

Summersalt Maternity Ribbed Voyager Bikini

Summersalt is one of our favorite swimwear brands and they just released maternity options! Giving their ubiquitous high-waisted bikini bottoms the prego treatment, this is one suit that will grow with you from first to third trimester.

Bikini top price: $50.00

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Bikini bottom price: $45.00

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10. Pez D’or stripe one-piece maternity swimsuit for Nordstrom

Pez D'or Stripe Swim

Love you some stripes? Then you can't go wrong with this halter-neck option that is flattering and cute all at once.

Price: $98.00

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11. Old Navy Maternity halter v-neck swimsuit with UPF 40

Old Navy Maternity Halter V-Neck Swimsuit

We're obsessed with this suite for two reasons: One, that crazy cute watermelon pattern! Two, the halter cut with tiny peephole is perfection and there's lots of support thanks to an extra strap at mid-back.

Price: Sale $22.50 (Regularly $44.99)

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12. Gap Maternity tie-back print one-piece suit

Gap Maternity Tie-Back Print One-Piece Suit

This one-piece is as pretty as can be with it's tiny floral print! We love that the straps criss-cross in the back and that the sweetheart neckline drawcord is adjustable.

Price: Sale $58.99 (Regularly $69.99)

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13. Pink Blush ruffle trim ruched one-piece maternity swimsuit

Pink Blush Light Blue Ruffle Trim Ruched One-Piece Maternity Swimsuit

Oversized ruffle? Check. Removable straps? Check. Ruched siding? Check. Adorable baby blue hue? Check.

Price: $46.00

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14. Jojo Maman Bebe flamingo halterneck maternity tankini

Jojo Maman Bebe Flamingo Halterneck Maternity Tankini

Tankinis for the win! Perfect for pulling up when you want the bump to get some sun, but tugging down when you don't want to show some skin.

Price: $59.00

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15. PregO Maternity Wear roll waist dot bikini set

PregO Maternity Wear Women's Maternity Roll Waist Dot Bikini Set

We love how sporty chic this suit is and that you can wear it after pregnancy, too.

Price: $68.00-$72.00

SHOP

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Babies love it when their mamas sing to them, and Carrie Underwood's son is no exception. But does he love his dad's singing? Not so much.

If your mom has a voice like Carrie Underwood's, chances are your lullaby standards are a bit higher than most. And, if a recent video from the singer is any indication, even Dad's singing may not quite make the grade.

The country singer shared a cute video clip of her son, Jacob, reacting as her husband, Mike Fisher, sings him a song. Let's just say the little guy isn't having it: Jacob cries throughout his father's mini-performance...That is until Mama steps in to sing the same song.

The clip shows little Jacob calm immediately when he hears his mom's voice (relatable, right?). Mike takes that opportunity to step back in and resume his vocals...but Jacob begins to cry again. "Everyone's a critic," Carrie captions the adorable video.

But don't take this to mean you have to be a recording artist in order to sing to your children! Even the most tone-deaf among us can (and should!) sing to our babies—not just because it's fun, but also because singing to your babe comes with some pretty awesome benefits. The act may even improve your baby's attention span and increase positive their reactions towards you, as we've previously reported.

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While Carrie and Mike opt to belt out the song "I Still Believe" by singer Vince Gill, you don't have to get too fancy. Singing a good old-fashioned lullaby to your kids is a great idea (they work for a pretty good reason). We are fairly certain that most babies out there love the sound of their mama's voice more than just about any sound (with the possible exception of the "Baby Shark" video), so keep up the family singing sessions even if you don't have a hit song on the charts.

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I am generally not considered a sentimental person, and I do not keep a lot of junk. When I moved to college, everything that wasn't part of my closet fit into a single trunk. By the time I got married, I had shrunk those keepsakes down to a single box. When I got pregnant, the box had shrunk down to a tiny container I shoved under my bed.

Then we had kids.

The sheer amount of stuff we received from well-wishers was overwhelming. I figured that we needed most of it—babies are high maintenance, right?—and took comfort in the fact that when our child got bigger, we could ditch the bassinet and the bottles and shrink down our lives again.

I could not have been more wrong. The stuff continued to pour in, and it became impossible to throw anything out. Some of it was useful and consumable, like diapers, and some of it was thoughtful and small, like a special stuffed animal, but most of it was simply too much…like the 1,398 toys that began a procession through our lives over the next three years.

It was nobody's fault. My children have four grandparents, two great-grandparents, and five aunts and uncles within a 20-mile radius. Many of them express their love through purchases. Constant purchases. For Christmas, birthdays, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, your regular Saturday. There was bound to be a build-up.

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The problem was that my children received so many presents the gift-giving itself began to lose meaning. Every time a family member came by the house, my 3-year-old expected a treat.

The amount of stuff piling up in our house started to grate on me, but I didn't know what to do. My oldest child has the memory of an elephant: the other day he cried because he couldn't find a specific drawing that he made in preschool 12 months ago. And my family was constantly checking up on their gifts: "Where's the special bear I gave you, little guy? Do you play with it a lot?" I didn't want to offend anyone.

Then I had an evening that changed my life as a mom. We went to a friend's house for dinner; they had young kids too, about a year or so ahead of us. We walked in and I was shocked at how completely their house had been taken over by their kids' belongings. You couldn't see the living room floor because there were toys everywhere—not in use but stacked up to the ceiling. They apologized for the mess, and it didn't seem to bother them, but I was panicking on the inside.

Was this what was in store for me as a parent? Were my children going to accumulate so much that I wouldn't be able to find my own life under all the mess?

We went home that night and put the kids to bed. And I ransacked. Three years of accumulated playthings, old "special" clothes, and my concerns and ideas about disappointing our relatives, were all ruthlessly sorted through.

If I was going to be a good mom, it would have to be on my terms, and my terms included the right to dispose of accumulation. It included the right to gently but firmly inform relatives that we may not have room for the stuffed bear as big as a house as a Christmas present this year, could there be a special place at their house to keep it? It included the right to shape my family's values, even when they clash a little with those closest to us.

I love our extended family very much, and I am glad they shower my children with affection, including gifts. But every mom has her own way of keeping her sanity, right? And for me, the key to a happy household now includes the occasional purge, when the kids are looking away, and knowing inside that your family will love you anyway.

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Life

If you buy Parent's Choice baby formula at Walmart you need to check to see if your product is being recalled.

The manufacturer of Walmart's Parent's Choice Advantage Infant Formula Milk-Based Powder with Iron, Perrigo Company, is recalling the product because it may be contained with metal. There are no reports of babies experiencing adverse effects, but the company says it is proceeding with the recall out of an "abundance of caution stemming from a consumer report."


If you buy this formula look on the bottom of the tub to check the lot code and use by date. If it is lot Code C26EVFV with a "use by" date of February 26, 2021, it is part of the recall. Don't use it and take it back to Walmart for a refund.


These tubs retail for just under $20.

The FDA suggests "consumers with any health-related questions should contact their healthcare provider", and you can also call Perrigo Consumer Affairs at 866-629-6181.

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