4 simple ways to ease that back-to-school stress, mama

2. Know that some things can wait.

4 simple ways to ease that back-to-school stress, mama

Back-to-school time can be stressful for all involved—the kids heading back to school, the parents who have to shuttle them around and get them going, and the teachers who have an immense job ahead of them.

When the carefree summer days end, it can be difficult to dive back into the school routine. While we all know how important routine is for children (and parents), we are all also very aware of how hard it can be to get back into a set schedule after having a few months of lax summer routines.

If you feel like you have a headache coming on just thinking about getting those school tasks accomplished—think checking off items on the classroom supply list, packing healthy lunches, and trying to figure out how the heck you are going to get your kids to wake up at 7 a.m. every day—your stress level is likely at an all-time, unhealthy high.

Here are some ways you can combat the back-to-school stress in both you and your children.

1. Be in a positive state of mind

Our kids pick up on our stress. If you are stressed out, it can make your kids stressed out, and when everyone is stressed it's a recipe for disaster. Work on positive thinking. This goes for both parents and kids. If you think positively, stress will have a hard time getting in.

Positive thinking and back-to-school can go together! It may not be easy, but it can be done. Focus on the good. Turn everything negative around.

For example, your child says, "Ugh I hate school, I do not want to go back!" While you may sympathize with his feelings (remember your old school days?) you need to twist it around. Likely, your child is anxious and stressed about the upcoming school year.

Instead of saying, "I know!" say something like, "You will get to see all the friends you have not seen all summer," "You will get to play soccer again once school starts," or something that tells your child there are good reasons to look forward to school starting. It is all about changing your way of thinking.

2. Know that some things can wait

We see you moms (and dads). We see you frantically running around Target or Staples trying to get every last item on that classroom supply list before school begins. We see you having your kid try on long pants and long sleeved shirts against their will. We see you, and we understand. But take a step back. You are doing too much.

Why is it that we feel the need to get everything in place before school begins? Do stores shut down after the first day of school? Does the internet and online shopping cease to exist once school is in session? Of course not.

Yes, it is important to get all the necessary school supplies prior to school starting. Again, if you plan ahead, that part can be easy-breezy (and stress free) for both your and your kids. But do not run yourself ragged trying to get fall or winter clothing, non essential classroom supplies (like tissues), and the like. Know that some of that can wait until after school has started. Relax, take your time, and know that not every item has to be checked off your list before that very first day.

3. Talk it out

As adults, we know how bad stress is for our well being. We need to make attempts to show our children how to work through stressful situations. One way to accomplish that is to talk about what is stressing us out. Back-to-school time is inevitably stressful for all involved, whether your child is showing signs of stress or not.

Have a relaxed discussion with your kids ahead of the start of the school year. You may find that they are just as stressed out as you are. And remember, some of your stress can transfer to them. By casually talking, you not only will become aware of how your child feels, but it may actually help ease much of the stress simply by not keeping it all bottled up inside. Once you know what specific things are stressing out your child, you can then give them the tools to work through it. This will help keep the last few days of summer and first few days of school a little more relaxed and a little less stressed.

4. Be excited for what is to come

Back-to-school time is exciting. Even for nervous teenagers, it can be a moment to really look forward to what is ahead. As you talk with your child, find out what they are looking forward to. It has to be something. Maybe it's a class they really like, friends they have not seen, getting their driver's license – everyone has something coming around during the school year to be excited about.

Once we put on a happy face, we help melt the stress away. Being excited for a new school year is great, and it is possible, even with the most difficult children (and parents). Part of the stress of the school year is facing something new. Turn the stress of something new into an exciting moment.

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My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

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

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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 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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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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