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Ease into the back to school bedtime routine with these 5 easy tips

No matter how much we (or our kids) resist it—the first day of school always comes.

Ease into the back to school bedtime routine with these 5 easy tips

Ah, back to school. It's the time of year that beach days and late summer nights are replaced with school supply shopping and early bedtimes... or so you hope.

But no matter how much we (or our kids) resist it—the first day of school always comes.

Thankfully there are a few practices that can make adjusting to a back to school bedtime routine a bit easier for the whole family.

Here's how you can help your family get back on track with a back to school bedtime routine:

1. Set an earlier bedtime.

Children naturally stay up later during the summer for many reasons. So, making the switch from relaxing summer days and sleeping in to waking up earlier and being ready to head out the door can feel like a huge adjustment.

The best approach to take is a gradual one.

Even if your child has already started school, you can still slowly start to move up bedtime by 15 or 20 minutes each night until you reach an appropriate time. Recommended bedtimes vary by age, but generally speaking you should shoot for 12 hours of sleep a night for your child.

2. Plan activities and meal schedules ahead of time.

The beginning of the school year can also bring an assortment of after school activities. In our household, we have exactly 1.5 hours in between after school pickup and football practice so dinnertime is either 4:30 or 7:30 p.m.

Scheduling meals earlier in the day can help avoid food-related disturbances at night and help promote earlier bedtimes. Plus, it will give your child plenty of time to unwind before bed.

3. Make bedtime a habit for the whole family.

It is best to set bedtime as close as possible for all children in the household. If one child feels left out because he has an earlier bedtime than his sister, it'll probably be more difficult for him to adjust. You can also have everyone in the family participate in the bedtime routine which help promotes healthy sleep habits in general.

4. Keep your bedtime routine consistent.

Children long for routine more than most of us realize. When they know what to expect, it helps give them a sense of security and support—making bedtime a whole lot easier. Your child might look forward to the time you spend each night putting her to sleep so try and take the same steps each night as you prepare for bed with your little one.

5. Limit screen time before bed.

Bright lights (especially those from TV and phone screens) can cause over-stimulation and reduce melatonin, making it difficult for your child to fall asleep. It is best to reserve screen time for late afternoon or early evening—not right before bedtime. Instead, opt for a book or a quiet activity that promotes a more calm environment prior to bedtime.

Overall, don't forget that transitioning your children from one season to the next can certainly brings its own set of challenges. Patience and consistency are crucial during any transition. And while change can take some time, by emphasizing healthy sleep habits, your children will naturally fall back into a rhythm and all will be OK. Mama—you've got this!

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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