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Crib-sleeping is right for our family—and that's okay

Being firm when it comes to my daughter's sleeping habits has given me restful nights of sleep I desperately need.

Crib-sleeping is right for our family—and that's okay

I am just one year new to motherhood, so a lot of things have come as a surprise to me. One of those things is how much love I could ever feel for my daughter.

I had heard about it before, but it wasn't until I experienced it myself that I learned about this new love I hadn't ever felt like the love I have for my child.

I was also surprised at how much she would need from me, and how I, one way or another, without any past experience just figured it out.

I am surprised at how much she grows and learns, as do I, every day.

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But my biggest surprise came at sleep time. I wasn't sure before I became a mom, if I'd choose to co-sleep or crib-sleep. I wasn't too worried about it, until she was born and I quickly realized, for my own sake, I needed to teach her to sleep on her own.

I couldn't believe just how tired I was after having a baby. Everyone warned me about this before she was born, advising me to enjoy my sleep now. And I won't lie— I followed their advice. I took every moment I could to tell myself, “I'm pregnant, I'm going to take a nap."

However, what I failed to realize is that I couldn't save up on sleep for later.

In fact, none of that precious sleep carried over after my daughter was born. And even after all my pregnancy sleep, I was still tired.

In my desperate need for sleep I tried to have my daughter nap in bed with me, but when she was younger if I even moved a little she'd wake up. And when she was a little older she would move so much I would end up with kicks and slaps on my face every time she turned, and I could never get the rest I needed.

That's when I knew that the sooner I could get my daughter to sleep longer stretches in her crib, the better it'd be for me.

I started thinking women who chose to co-sleep were supernatural or crazy. That was until one night while I was researching about baby sleep I found a comment from a mother defending her reasoning for co-sleeping with her sons.

She wrote, “A lot of people judge me for choosing to co-sleep with my sons. What people don't understand is that I'm a full-time, working, single mom that leaves the house as my children are waking up, and come back from work when they are going down to sleep. It's only at night time that I get to cuddle and love on my children through the weekdays, and I wouldn't change it for the world."

In that moment, my heart softened to her words. I understand what it is like to miss your child and desperately need time with your babies. I understood, that like me, parents make these choices on sleeping because of their unique needs. Mine was that I desperately needed uninterrupted sleep.

I spend most of my days with my daughter playing, entertaining, loving, correcting, feeding and all the things that comes with staying home with my baby. By night time, I needed a baby break. I am exhausted.

I want my daughter to fall asleep easily and get the sleep she needs because it is good for both of us. I also need that time to recharge so I can come in the next morning and have the energy I need to fully be with her.

By bedtime, after we go through her nightly routine, I'm no longer in the mood for fun or games. I need her to get some rest so I can too. I have to admit that at times I do feel strict. Sometimes I wonder if too strict.

After I put my daughter to sleep sometimes she perks right up and lifts her little arms towards me to hold her. And don't get me wrong I so want to fall for her cute little facial expressions, but I know that the minute I give in I will become frustrated and exhausted.

So I gently place her back down and walk out the room. In the first few months of trying this she'd wake back up and play and talk to herself and then cry, so I would come back in and give her back her pacifier back and blanket and place her back down. I repeated this routine for several days without giving in to the temptation to play with her or to bring her in my bed.

At first it was exhausting, but after a few weeks she now knows that I'm not up for games and it's time for bed.

She does have those nights when it's more difficult to put her to sleep than others. And she changes things on me every time she discovers something new, like pulling herself up or when she learned to go from laying to sitting. Now she even tries to hold herself on the rail and walk around the crib.

And I have to learn new ways to put her to sleep every night, but with consistency and extreme will power to not put her in my bed, I have had the rest I need to get my work done, to spend my days with her and to rest when it's necessary.

Throughout my short motherhood journey I have found that at times there's no right answer. We all, as mothers, deal with our own unique situations and make our own decisions, even when it comes to something that may seem so insignificant as sleep.

But as small as it may seem, being firm when it comes to my daughter's sleeping habits has given me restful nights of sleep I desperately need. And that helps me be a more engaged and patient mama during the day.

It's not easy to make these small yet difficult choices as a mother, but when I see her little face light up as I enter her room every morning, it makes it oh, so worth it.

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

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

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Every parent can relate to these funny tweets about the presidential debate

If you've refereed siblings you can relate to Chris Wallace.

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The first presidential debate was painful to watch for many reasons. The sitting president of the United States failed to condemn white supremacy when asked, and while both President Trump and Joe Biden spoke nearly constantly, they didn't say much of value.

It was disappointing for stressed parents who would have rather heard more about policy and the future of America instead of watching two men interrupt and insult each other.

The candidates spent a significant amount of time talking over each other, asking the other to shut up and deflecting questions from moderator Chris Wallace, whose position was instantly relatable to any parent who has had to ask their children to stop squabbling at the dinner table.

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These viral tweets sum up the debate perfectly:

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