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We all know how much of a cluster the pre-bedtime hours can be. We're talking food battles at dinner time, power struggles at bath time, and to complete the trifecta—professional-level sleep-avoidance mastery at lights out time.

You know what I mean. (I know you know.)

"Mom! I'm so thirsty! I need another sip of water!"

"Mom! You said you'd read two books but you only read one and I can't sleep unless I hear two books! You know that!"

"Mom! I have to go pee pee again!"

Most nights bedtime is not so much 'calm' and 'zen' as it is 'chaotic' and 'exhausting'. Don't get me wrong—there are some sweet moments throughout our routine like reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and signature sign-offs like, "See ya later, alligator!" And honestly, there are also nights when there's truly nothing I'd rather be doing that lying next to my daughter's crib holding her hand as she falls asleep.


Then there are some nights that it feels like I'm saying goodnight to my children for three hours and that our bedtime routine has somehow morphed from a simple, straightforward three-step process into an elaborate, intricate 32-step master plan. Sometimes I feel like I'm dealing with Carrie Mathison from Homeland in CIA-level sleep negotiations. (Where's Saul for some help?)

But on the nights when the stars and moon align and Mercury isn't in retrograde anymore and everyone's sleep cycles have synced and your children go to bed with no fuss and fall right to sleep with no whining or extra requests and you get to go relax on the couch—well… I hope you bask in that sweet, sweet sound of silence. (Because we all know how fleeting these moments are.)

I hope you decide to ignore the three loads of clean laundry piled on the bed that need folding, and instead, take some time to connect with your partner.

I hope you—if you must—take only 20 minutes to tidy up and then read the book you are engrossed in so you can finally solve that mystery.

I hope that even though you get that wacky feeling of missing them (I mean, this happens to me all the time—even on the roughest of parenting days), I hope you resist the urge to go give them a kiss or to go take a picture of them or something that will jeopardize the whole operation.

I hope you remember that last night was not one of these stars-aligning type nights and find an extra bit of gratitude for the fact that tonight is one of these magical nights. Maybe tonight you can finish the movie you started last night but didn't finish because you were both exhausted by the time you actually got to the good part seeing as you were interrupted by a non-sleeping child at least 10 times.

I hope you pretend like the dishwasher isn't clean and it doesn't need to be emptied and instead, get in a nice, hot bath with a face mask and a good podcast. (#Selfcaregoals)

I hope you don't think twice about the fact that you need to declutter and re-decorate your living room and instead use your time more wisely by mindlessly perusing a magazine or catching up on the Instagram stories you missed throughout the day (when you were parenting/adulting.)

I hope you tag-team kitchen cleanup with your honey and treat yo'selves to some chocolate or decaf tea (go wild! 😂) when you're done.

I hope you turn a blind eye to the Lego disaster in the playroom and instead, save that for a teaching moment in the morning with your kiddos. ("We all need to clean up in this family.") Instead, please enjoy some (well-deserved) down time with Netflix and your couch. STAT.

I hope you forget about the work you need to catch up on for tonight and instead listen to your body and go to bed super early. Don't get sucked into staying up late if you are beyond tired. Don't be ashamed that you are going to sleep right after your kids. Girl, that only means that you are living your best life.

Listen—we have a LOT of things we need to get done during our busy days momming. We complete tasks left and right and we multitask until the cows come home. We are responsible and proactive and efficient. We follow through, we work hard, we Get. It. Done.

And nighttime can be tough when kids don't cooperate or they aren't feeling well and need you or the baby is going through a stormy period and your pre-planned date with your partner and the couch just isn't going to happen. There are plenty of nights like this in motherhood. And you rock them all, mama.

So on the nights when the magic happens (no, not that magic, I'm talking about the real magic—the kids sleeping soundly) don't question the Universe. Just accept and appreciate.

Oh, and do what you want to do. Not what you think you "should" be doing. Deal?

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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.


"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!


In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.


Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]


Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."


Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).


Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.


Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.


A fellow mama

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