Bedtime is the one thing I’m strict about

Bedtime is what keeps me going. ?

Bedtime is the one thing I’m strict about

Nobody would ever accuse me of being a strict mom.

At our house, kids can jump on the couch. They are free to grab snacks when they feel the hunger pain coming on. My children are encouraged to express themselves stylistically—and have been known to give themselves Sharpie manicures when left unsupervised for too long. Their pants are often on backwards, we are always running 5 minutes late somewhere.

Most days it seems like I’m just winging motherhood, making up the rules as I go along.

Except for bedtime.

When it comes to getting to bed on time, I am an unrelenting, can’t-be-stopped drill sergeant.


I do not mess around with bedtime.

Almost every night since my son was born 5 years ago, bedtime is the one thing I take the most seriously of all.

I do it to help our kids unwind and feel calm and safe and ready to sleep.

I do it because leading the bedtime rituals make me feel so motherly and like I am providing an innocent, secure childhood for my kids.

I do it because snuggling with my freshly-bathed babes is the best feeling in the world.

But most of all I put my kids to bed on time (early) for my own mental health.

The magic hours after my kids are asleep are what give me the time to regroup and prepare myself mentally and physically for the next day.

We all need a break—my kids and I, both.

Bedtime is what keeps me going.

In our house, bedtime basically starts at 5 p.m.—when we start the dinner process. (Getting a 1, 3 and 5-year-old to sit in their seats and eat food is a process and the struggle is SO real.)

Once they’ve gotten some of the food into their mouths (but honestly, much of it on the floor) it’s time for step 2: getting clean.

The shower time is always followed by a phone call with daddy, pajamas, calming music, quiet time and bedtime stories.

In fact, every night for the last few years at our house it’s groundhogs day.

You can barely tell the passage of time except for the extra child who seems to show up every year or two. It’s dinner, bath, shower, pj’s, books, prayers, tuck in, songs and kisses—and lights out. Every night. At 7 p.m. Since 2012.

7:30 p.m. every. single. night.—you are my happy place.

I don’t need the studies that show that kids who have an earlier bedtime tend to do better in school—I can see it in my own trio when they don’t get enough rest.

I don’t need proof that moms whose kids sleep better at night tend to have better mental health—I know how I feel if I don’t get my downtime to clean up, rest my mind and not have to ask someone to stop poking their sister’s eye for at least a few hours.

They need an early bedtime. I need it, too.

Post-bedtime nights are full of possibility for me. I can catch up on work, drink a glass of wine, watch Netflix, chat with my husband or clean up the kitchen. Or I can just lay on the couch and scroll through Facebook without moving for 3 hours. ANY OF THESE ARE OPTIONS. The latter is *probably* more likely. But it’s only possible because: bedtime.

I’ve tried moving bedtime later. But my kids still pop up at the exact same time in the morning—just on fewer hours of sleep.

I’ve even tried moving bedtime earlier. But my almost-five-year old gave me a stern talking to about the sun still being awake and it not yet being time to sleep, so I decided not to mess too much with a good thing.

So it’s 7:30 bedtime until further notice. Because not only is the sweet sound of alone time awaiting me, but so too are the happy hearts of my well-rested children who wake up every morning with smiles on their faces and big hugs for mama. I can tell that getting so much rest is just good for them, too.

Then it’s time for another day of totally winging it.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. 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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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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