How to ease into back-to-school sleep routines—a sleep expert breaks it down for us

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For a lot of families, summer is a season where rules relax and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting, weekday mornings are about to start a lot earlier for many kids, and parents might be wondering how to reset the clock on bedtimes.

According to Terry Cralle, an RN, certified clinical sleep expert and the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, a new school year is a good opportunity for families to get a fresh start on sleep routines.

"We have to start with really making sufficient sleep a family priority [and] having some discussions about the importance of sleep with our children," Cralle tells Motherly. "It shouldn't be at bedtime when everyone's cranky and tired. It should be during the day that families really discuss the importance of sleep for all family members."

If you need to have a conversation about getting enough sleep for school, try the following tips from Cralle.

1. Be positive about sleep

Make sure that younger children, especially, understand that sleep is a positive, not negative thing, and don't use the threat of bedtime as punishment.

"What we want to do is, ideally, change how children perceive sleep because children can see sleep as a great big timeout where they're missing out on things," Cralle explains, suggesting that parents instead try to present sleep and bedtime routines as "with positivity and as just a non-negotiable part of our lives."

Cralle wants parents to make sure they're talking with their kids about how a lack of sleep can impact one's mood, health and academic ability. Just as we teach our kids about the importance of eating healthy, we should be teaching them about the importance of sleeping healthy, and from an early age.

2. Empower your children with choices

According to Cralle, it's really important to empower children with choices around bedtime, because the one thing they can't have a choice in is the fact that they do need to go to sleep.

"They're going be more accountable, more responsible, and hopefully, develop good sleep habits and practice good hygiene early in life," if we empower them through simple choices, Cralle suggests.

"So we can say, what pajamas do you want to wear to bed tonight? What book do you want to read? Let them participate. If they can pick out their color of their pillowcase, let them do it. Whatever's age appropriate."

3. Let them do their own bedtime math

Instead of just telling kids when they need to go to bed, involve them in figuring out an appropriate bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists how much sleep kids need depending on their age. Have them look up how much sleep a kid their age needs, and then show them the National Sleep Foundation's online bedtime calculator. Kids can choose how many hours of sleep they need and when they want to wake up, and it will show them when they need to go to bed.

It's not an arbitrary decision mom and dad made, it's science and math, and you can't argue with that.

4. Add one sleep item to the back-to-school shopping list

Cralle says adding one sleep-related item to the back to school shopping list can really help children understand the importance of sleep as they head back into the classroom. A conversation about how getting a good night's sleep is important for school success, combined with a shopping trip for a new pillowcase or comforter can really help children see sleep as an important priority, and give them something to look forward to using at bedtime.

5. Provide an environment conducive to sleep

When our kids are infants we're really good at setting up rooms that can help them sleep. But as our children age out of cribs and start to accumulate a lot of possessions and playthings, their rooms can become a less ideal sleeping environment.

According to Cralle, it's not uncommon for kids to get up after bedtime and start playing with toys in their room. She recommends removing stimulating toys or storing them in another area of the home, and never putting televisions, tablets or smartphones in a child's room.

6. Enact a media curfew

At least an hour before bedtime, screen time should come to an end and other, more relaxing activities can begin. Cralle says families can designate a certain hour as DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, or move from away from brightly lit screens and towards a board games or puzzles, "things to do to get that blue light out of their eyes."

A family-wide media curfew can be a good thing, says Cralle, as it helps parents "walk the walk" when it comes to sleep hygiene. "Don't be looking at your iPad and tell your child to put it away," she explains.

7. Remember: It's never too late for good sleep habits.

According to Cralle, age 3 is the ideal time to start reinforcing the importance of sleep for a child's health, but older kids and even mom and dad can reverse bad bedtime habits if the whole family buys in. That may mean curtailing your kids' (and your own) caffeine consumption, says Cralle.

"We're seeing younger and younger age groups of school children walking around with their Starbucks cups, with coffee, late in the afternoon," says Cralle, who thinks a lot of parents just don't have good information on how caffeine consumption can impact sleep—for our kids and ourselves.

She recommends limiting the number of caffeinated beverages available in the house if you've got tweens and teens at home, and watching your own consumption as well.

"We have to say 'Here's how we're all going to approach it.' It's sort of like seat belts with children, we never would buckle them in and get into the car, and not do it ourselves."

This may be the season to tweak your own sleep habits mama. Here's to a well-rested September.

[Correction: August 24, 2018: The sleep calculator was created by the National Sleep Foundation, not the Better Sleep Council.]

[A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2018. It has been updated.]

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A 34-year-old breast cancer survivor has pulled off an incredible feat. With some help from French scientists, the woman recently gave birth to a baby conceived from lab matured eggs.

It's the first time that's ever been done, and it could open up a whole new world for women looking to preserve their fertility in the face of cancer.

Doctors used in vitro maturation + vitrification together for the first time

Before the unnamed woman started cancer treatment, doctors saw about 17 sacs containing immature eggs in her ovaries. But there was no time to wait for them to mature—doing so could have given her cancer time to spread. So the doctors went into action using a process called in vitro maturation (IVM) to retrieve those eggs and mature them in a lab. Then, they were frozen with a technique called vitrification. It was a risk, however, no cancer patient had ever had a successful pregnancy with an egg that underwent both of those procedures.

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Four years after those eggs were retrieved, the patient was ready to have a baby. But after a year of trying on her own, she hadn't had any luck. Her oncology team didn't want her to try any new forms of ovarian stimulation so she turned to her frozen eggs. One was implanted and 9 months later, a healthy baby boy named Jules followed. He's now a year and a half old.

A groundbreaking moment could pave ways for cancer patients to conceive

Professor Michael Grymberg, who worked with the woman from the time she was diagnosed with cancer, said in a statement that the birth was a groundbreaking moment. "We were delighted that the patient became pregnant without any difficulty and successfully delivered a healthy baby at term. My team and I trusted that IVM could work when ovarian stimulation was not feasible."

Grymberg says he believes fertility preservation should always be offered to young cancer patients, especially now that there's proof that IVM with vitrification can work. "Our success with Jules shows that this technique should be considered a viable option for female fertility preservation," he said.

A cancer diagnosis is hard enough, without women having to worry about whether it'll keep them from ever carrying a child. As scientists continue to break boundaries in the field of fertility—that worry may become less and less relevant.

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The anecdote went viral on LinkedIn and Facebook: An executive noticed one of his employees, a mother, crying at her desk. She explained that her child is sick, she had no sick days left and couldn't afford to miss work. He wrote her a check and sent her home to her child. It's a modern-day working mom fairytale.

The male executive is the hero in the story, but frustrated women who were raised on Spice Girls-era girl power don't want to wait around for someone else to set them free from punishing corporate policies. These women want to be their own heroes (and their own bosses). And when a friend slides into their DMs to tell them they can be, well, they desperately want to believe it.

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But the hard truth is that girl power never completely grew up to become women's empowerment and a culture that paid lip service to gender equality without making progress primed a generation of mothers to be the perfect targets for multi-level marketing (or MLMs as they're commonly referred to).

A population already burdened with so much unpaid work in the service of their families ended up doing even more unpaid labor to serve companies bottom lines, and we need to ask ourselves why.

In 2019, we have entered an era of MLM reckoning. The alarm is sounding about the damage MLMs can do to women and their families but if you listen closely, there is another sound here: The sound of opportunity for companies that can actually live up to some of the promises MLM fails to keep.

The era of MLM backlash

For years multilevel marketing got a pretty decent edit in popular culture—the pink Cadillacs helped—but in recent years a new awareness has been building. Debunking the myth of MLMs is in vogue.

It's been more three years since John Oliver's critique of the industry went viral and the documentary Betting on Zero, which details the controversy surrounding one MLM company, was released. There are several popular podcasts detailing the downside of MLMs, and multiple subreddits, Facebook groups and online communities dedicated to advocating against a business model in which 75% of the salesforce doesn't turn a profit.

It seems consumers are becoming more MLM-savvy, but this new awareness came at the expense of so many mothers. Thankfully, the media has been taking notice, especially of LulaRoe, an MLM empire built on leggings and female empowerment but plagued by lawsuits and stories of women gone bankrupt.

By the industry's own admission 75% of people who sign up to sell for an MLM company are women. The Direct Selling Association, the MLM industry's national trade association states that the average direct seller makes $5,702 in profit, but the AARP Foundation suggests that more than half of those in MLMs who make money make less than $5,000 in a year and that the majority (73%) of sellers either break even or lose money.

If you've been on the internet much in the last couple of years you probably already know this. Vice did a documentary on it. Truth in Advertising released an investigative piece. From The Washington Post to the Huffington Post, media was busy in 2019 telling us that MLM are hurting women.

The question is, are we ready to stop the pain?

But in 2020 women are still joining MLMs because these companies are offering something that is missing from the lives of so many: Support and a flexible opportunity.

Motherly's second annual State of Motherhood survey found 85% of moms don't think society understands or supports mothers, and that while financial need is the top reason for moms participating in the workforce, "desire to participate in work outside the household" is a significant motivational factor as well. Today's moms need and want to work, but they want to work for companies that don't expect them to pretend they don't have children. The survey suggests that some moms are leaving their jobs because of the "inability to strike a work-life balance or the work culture not being supportive."

When asked what would help, moms said longer, paid maternity leave, childcare, flexible schedules and remote work opportunities. MLMs promise mothers the flexible, remote jobs they so desperately want.

Motherly's survey isn't the only one to highlight the need for better work-life balance. A recent survey by Flex Jobs found more than half of stay-at-home parents stay out of the workforce longer than they would like to.

"Without flexible work options, for example, 36% of stay-at-home parents we surveyed said that they actually wanted to return to work but their job was too inflexible to accommodate their needs as a working parent. Thirty-four percent turned to freelancing to bring in some income while staying at home with their kids, and 11% tried multi-level marketing businesses," explains Brie Reynolds, a career development manager and coach at FlexJobs.

It's clear that there is an eager talent pool that is going untapped, and Reynolds is hoping to see that 11% go down as more legitimate companies offer the kinds of opportunities parents are seeking. According to Reynolds, the number of people working remotely in the U.S. has increased 159% between 2005 and 2017.

"The most common work-from-home job titles include a huge range of professions, showing that companies are applying remote work to a wide variety of professions: teacher, writer, developer, analyst, sales representative, nurse, accountant, and project manager, for example. Hopefully, as more legitimate remote jobs become available, the need for parents to try risky MLM programs to find the flexibility they need will greatly diminish," she says.

Anti-MLM advocates say awareness of the problem isn't enough

Katie Young is the co-host of the podcast Sounds Like MLM but OK, which examines the impact of MLMs on sellers, and an administrator for a Facebook group by the same name. The group has more than 130,000 members, some of whom have been in, and left, the MLM industry.

"The former sellers are a really solid chunk of people that are joining this community because they are the people that have been personally impacted by the harm that the companies can do," Young explains.

According to Young, the promise of profit isn't the only thing prompting women to sign up to sell candles, shakes and clothing: It's also the promise of a supportive community. Additionally, Young believes MLM recruitment tactics prey on mom guilt.

"It's like, 'Don't you want to stay home with your kids? Don't you want to be the one to raise them?' There's a lot of pressure and a lot of shame," says Young, who adds that when messages like these come from a friend they carry more weight.

"They're making people feel bad about the way that they're living their lives and thinking that they're going to be better people and better parents by joining those these companies," she says.

Young hopes that the public backlash against MLM companies, combined with more flexible and legitimate work opportunities will help prevent more people from being hurt, but she is not holding her breath.

She believes MLMs will not lose their luster until lawmakers take action against them and non-MLM companies realize what parents are up against, because even in the era of MLM reckoning, when Googling a company serves up so many headlines about devastated sellers, people are still signing up.

The MLM horror stories shared in Young's Facebook group and the viral Facebook post about the hero executive have one thing in common: They shouldn't have happened. And if we create a culture that supports working parents we can stop them from happening again.

[We reached out to LulaRoe for this story but have not heard back from the company. We also reached out to Herbalife and the Direct Selling Association. In response to this article the organization provided several links to its website.]

[This post was originally published on Apparently on September 24, 2019. It has been updated.]

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For many parents deciding how many children to have isn't an easy one. Mama of three Kate Hudson welcomed her baby girl Rani Rose in 2018 and has two older sons, 16-year-old Ryder Russell and 8-year-old Bingham Hawn. Her family is beautiful, but it may not be complete.

"I don't know if I'm done yet," Hudson said during a recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Hudson shared her reason for considering baby number four....and it's pretty relatable to fellow toddler mamas.

"Right now, Rani's in that place where you're like, 'I want another baby,'" Hudson explained. "But once she gets like four, five, you're like, 'I feel like my life is kinda back a little bit. They're kind of in a groove.' There's, like, a window."

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There totally is a window, and it's 18 to 59 months, according to data from the CDC. More than half of the siblings born in recent years have an age gap between 18 months (1.5 years) and 59 months (4.91 years).

In this way, Hudson is pretty out of the ordinary as she's had longer interpregnancy intervals than most American moms with her first three kids. The gap between her sons is 89 months and the gap between her middle child and her youngest is 87 months.

According to the data, women in Hudson's current age group (30-44) are more likely to have longer interpregnancy intervals than younger moms, but only 20% of interpregnancy intervals are over 60 months.

Hudson's revelation about her family size came as she spoke to Ellen alongside her brother, Oliver Hudson to promote their new podcast, Sibling Revelry. The brother/sister duo also chatted about parenthood. Both have three children...but something may happen to break the tie.

"He raises children really easily. It's his best work, he's the best dad," Hudson says of her brother, who is a dad to Wilder, Bodhi and Rio. When asked if the siblings would keep having children until one of them "wins," they have two different answers.

"I have a feeling I'm probably going to end up winning," she said, adding that she's not sure she feels done at three.

Oliver won't be competing against his sister if she chooses to have another baby: He is, by his own admission, happy with three kids (because he's not in "the window"—his kids are 6, 9 and 12).

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As any parent knows, newborns need to eat a lot to keep fuel in those tiny tummies. For breastfeeding mamas, that can translate to nursing sessions anywhere, any time of day—which can make it feel like a full-time job.

These mamas have been super honest about their breastfeeding journeys, proving that while breastfeeding is beautiful, it can also be challenging, boring or require a lot of multitasking.

Ashley Graham enjoying a “multitasking sunday”

Breastfeeding takes a lot of time and energy. We see a lot of stock photos of moms staring down serenely at their baby during nursing sessions but in real life, sometimes mama needs to look at her phone.

That's why we love this snap Ashley Graham posted of her "multitasking Sunday".

Sometimes in early motherhood, it feels like you're glued to the couch or the bed and we love that technology can keep us connected to the world during a time that can be isolating.

Caterina Scorsone breastfeeding on the set of Grey’s Anatomy

The set of Grey's Anatomy is a breastfeeding-friendly workplace, according to Grey's star (and Motherly podcast guest) Caterina Scorsone.

"Nursing my baby at work. This is what feminist infrastructure looks like; workplaces that support working women, families, children and their development," she captioned this post published on her Instagram feed in February 2020.

"While also beautiful, breasts are miraculous tools for nourishment and motherhood rather than solely sexualized objects of the male gaze. For any women who are hurting, I deeply and lovingly hope that you can release and heal any shame you have accepted or taken on as a result of your feeding choices. And for the women who want to breastfeed but feel self conscious about it, I hope you can feel free and excited to nourish your baby in a way that has fantastic health benefits for you both," she wrote it a previous Instagram post.

Christina Anstead's postpartum selfie is peak #momlife 

Have you ever looked at a social media post from a new mom and wondered how she could look so put together and perfect despite having just had a baby? If so, you're not alone. The perfectly staged photos of new mothers posing with their impeccably dressed babies in their spotlessly neat homes are pretty common these days. And while they're lovely to look at, sometimes they can leave other new mamas wondering why their own realities don't look so idyllic. That's why we love when a new mother shows the messy side of new motherhood — and Christina Anstead just joined those ranks.

Christina, who welcomed baby Hudson London just two weeks ago, just gave us all a look at her new mom reality, and the unfiltered image shows something many of know all about: Leaky breasts.

In the photo, Christina lies in bed wearing a nursing tank with coloring foils in her hair. She's holding her baby, and you can clearly see a wet spot on her tank top. We all know this is way too real — leaky breasts are par for the course for new moms, even though no one seems to warn you about this!

Christina captions the photo "#MOMLIFE". Both her husband and her followers are loving the image. "☺️👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼🔥🔥 love this! Love you! Cutest leaky boob mumma ever x," husband Ant Anstead writes. A follower adds "Out of all the pictures I've seen of you this is actually my favorite and you look the most beautiful! You're so in your element.!💜".

We're right there with them: This photo of Christina is real and relatable, and we love that she's showing the incredible multitasking moms do every single day. And she's practicing self-care by coloring her hair, which is wonderful to see (be sure to take care of yourself, mama! Whether that means sitting down to eat a nice, hot meal or having your hair done).

New motherhood is beautiful, but it's certainly not perfect. Unwashed hair, days-old clothes, serious under-eye bags, a messy home and, yes, leaky breasts are all part of the phase — and we love that this famous mama is showing that.

Jessie James Decker is a backseat breastfeeder

By the time her third child was born, Jessie James Decker had a few tricks up her sleeve when it came to breastfeeding on the go—including how to get situated in the backseat of the car to nurse her son while he was strapped into the car seat.

Decker doesn't recommend mamas go without a seatbelt like she did, but sometimes, a bad day out with the baby calls for extreme measures. When little Forrest couldn't stop crying on the way home from his mama's photo shoot, his mama did what she had to do.

"I hopped in the back seat with Forrest and fed him with boob out leaned awkwardly over the car seat to calm him down," Decker says. "On the way home I cried, I got stressed and anxiety, and I was just a mom trying to do my best just like we all are no matter the situation."

Ali Wong says “breastfeeding is a blast”

Some #breastfeeding posts on Instagram remind us that breastfeeding is beautiful. But comedian Ali Wong's breastfeeding posts remind us that (just like motherhood in general) there are times that it doesn't feel so beautiful (and that's okay).

"Breastfeeding is a blast," she sarcastically captioned a photo of herself during a nursing session.

In her Netflix special Wong joked that "Breastfeeding is brutal. It is chronic physical torture. I thought it was supposed to be this beautiful bonding ceremony… Breastfeeding is this savage ritual that just reminds you that your body is a cafeteria now! It don't belong to you no more."

Wong's humor is refreshingly honest and reminds the rest of us that it's okay if breastfeeding doesn't feel beautiful all the time.

Amy Schumer is pumping with no shame

When Amy Schumer went back to work two weeks after giving birth to her son, some internet commenters were quick to dish out mom shame, suggesting that she needed to "at least let the stitches dissolve first."

In the comments section of her Instagram post, Schumer joked "I've always wanted to be mom shamed!!!!"

The next day she posted a photo of herself pumping breastmilk and captioned it "sending out love to the moms shaming me for doing standup last night!"

Schumer went back to work because she loves what she does, but many moms go back to work and pump because they have to—and nobody should be shamed for that.

Some mamas pump at work, some nurse at home and some fill bottles with formula to send to day care. We may do things differently but we're all doing our best.

Tia Mowry nurses with love

Tia Mowry's breastfeeding story proves that mamas can have totally different experiences with different children. She wasn't able to nurse her son Cree for long, but found it easier with her daughter Cairo.

Six weeks after Cairo's birth Mowry wrote on Instagram: "Wasn't able to breastfeed Cree for long because of low milk supply! However, this time around I have plenty. Lots of teas, water, #fenugreek, and a high protein diet has contributed! More importantly, say no to stress!! I'm able to pump 12 ounces alone in the morning for my little brown suga!"

Hilary Duff knows her limits

When Hilary Duff announced that she was done breastfeeding her daughter Banks, we supported her choice.

"I am a working mom of two. My goal was to get my little girl to six months and then decide if I (and her of course) wanted to keep going. Let me tell you. Pumping at work sucks," Duff wrote on Instagram.

"I needed a break. I was going to break," she writes. "With the stress of a dropping milk supply and a baby that was getting bored or not caring about nursing when I was available to. I was sad and frustrated and feeling like a failure all of the time. When really I'm a bad ass rock star."

Deciding to stop breastfeeding is a valid choice and we appreciate Duff's honesty.

Pink takes a hike

Sometimes mamas need to stop breastfeeding, and sometimes they need to find a way to just keep on going.

When son Jameson was a baby, Pink proved that breastfeeding didn't have to mean sitting at home in a glider. With some assistance from a baby carrier and a perfect position for Jameson, the multitasking mama was able to go about her hike like it was no big deal.

Chrissy Teigen teaches the next generation

When Chrissy Teigen's son Miles was still in that newborn stage and breastfeeding constantly, her oldest, daughter Luna, decided that mama should breastfeed her doll, too.

When she wasn't holding babies and dolls to her breasts she was holding pumps to them, because Chrissy isn't just the Queen of Twitter, she's the queen of multitasking.

Jessica Alba juggled work and breastfeeding

Jessica Alba is another multitasking mama who made the most of every minute of the day and every ounce of breast milk when her son Hayes was a newborn. She brought the little guy to board meetings at the Honest Company offices, breastfed him in Target fitting rooms and, like Duff, eventually decided to switch to formula.

"I felt like he wanted to nurse 24/7, which was obviously really challenging when you're trying to go back to work," Alba told Motherly in 2018.

She wasn't just busy with the Honest Company in the early weeks and months of Hayes' life, but also shooting her TV series with Gabrielle Union, 'LA's Finest.' The timing of the opportunity wasn't ideal, but the project was.

"I was actually bummed about it, I really did want to take four months but I got the pilot offer and it just happened to be shooting, so it cut into my maternity leave," she said.

"Also my milk supply was challenged with him. I felt like I had the most milk with Honor [her oldest daughter] and then it got less with Haven [her middle child] and even less with Hayes. And so that was just tough for me," she explained.

Thandie Newton proves mamas can breastfeed anywhere

Mothers in America are often challenged about their right to breastfeed in public, but actress Thandi Newton's throwback Insta post shows that moms is a great reminder that mothers in America are free to breastfeed anywhere, whenever they need to.

American mothers "have the right to breastfeed your baby wherever and whenever your baby is hungry," according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Office on Women's Health.

"This is what my body is made for. And the rest is my choice. #Freedom," Newton captioned her nursing selfie.

Eva Longoria Baston breastfed while making TV

Eva Longoria has an amazing career as an actress, producer and director, and she's also a first-time mom who has spent the last year breastfeeding on set.

"Here are pics of me directing while breastfeeding Santi during filming of @GrandHotelABC," Eva captions her post. "Women multitask everyday & I was lucky to have an amazing crew & cast that supported my new motherhood + career goals!"

The fact that she shared this look at her life with her followers means a lot to moms everywhere who are struggling with endless feedings, taking care of a million things at once, and public breastfeeding in a society that doesn't always normalize the act.

She's totally right: Having supportive colleagues helps a ton. Research shows that support from colleagues is essential for moms when it comes to pumping and nursing at work.

Gisele Bündchen 'grammed her breastfeeding glam session

In 2013, the super model proved she's also a super mama by multitasking a full-on beauty session while breastfeeding. Recognizing what a team effort it was, Bündchen captioned the post, "What would I do without this beauty squad after the 15 hours of flying and only three hours of sleep."

Tess Holliday was inspired by her fellow supermodel mama

Tess Holliday followed in Gisele's footsteps after her youngest was born, posting this photo to Instagram. It that proves that breastfeeding mamas can not only multitask, but also don't have to conform to certain body ideals to look amazing postpartum. Any size, any shape, any time, anywhere—breastfeeding mothers like Holliday are normalizing breastfeeding and our bodies

Padma Lakshmi proves you don't need a team

Without a beauty squad on call, Lakshmi took her multitasking to "level 💯" by using a nursing pillow to free up her two hands. It takes a brave woman to attempt mascara while breastfeeding, but the Top Chef host clearly pulls it off.

Whether a mama is trying to feed her baby on the go or while she's getting glam, it isn't always easy.Motherhood is about trying to do your best even when it feels like 100 things are going on at the same time—and yet we manage, like the super mamas we are.

Whether a mama is trying to feed her baby on the go or while she's getting glam, it isn't always easy. Motherhood is about trying to do your best even when it feels like 100 things are going on at the same time—and yet we manage, like the super mamas we are.

[This post was originally published June 12, 2018. It has been updated.]

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