Confession: I love birthdays, but could do without the parties

I‘m still haunted by The Great Cake Disaster of 2016, TBH.

Confession: I love birthdays, but could do without the parties

My son’s second birthday is only a couple months away and his dad is already talking about fun things we could do instead of a party. Why is he so anti-birthday party? Because our baby’s first birthday really stressed me out. I felt a lot of pressure to have a perfect party. So when we ran out of pizza and my cake literally fell flat, I got pretty down on myself.

It seemed like I was the only mom in the world who couldn’t pull off a Pinterest-worthy party. But a new survey conducted by Netflix proves I’m far from alone: Three out of four parents feel pressured to throw the perfect birthday bash. And 71 percent wished there was an easier way to make birthdays feel special.


Why is it that birthday parties are so stressful for mom and dad?

Forty-three percent of parents surveyed said time was a stressor in planning birthday parties—with the average investing 10 hours in planning. For my son’s party, I put a bunch of effort into planning, only to run out of time at the last minute. (Hence the cake disaster.)

Sixty percent of parents also cite money as a concern, as the average kid’s party costs parents about $200. I thought I was keeping my costs low by throwing a small bash for friends and family and drawing a “happy birthday” mural on our chalkboard instead of buying decorations. Then I ended up stressing out over the lack of pizza and spending money on additional pies no one ate. On top of that, my husband had to run out and buy a new cake. (Did I mention how much of a disaster that was?)

Basically, my cake was disgusting, the chalkboard mural was poorly drawn and I left my “don’t ring the bell, baby’s napping” sign up, so a pizza guy was left standing at my door for who knows how long until my brother happened to arrived for the party and let him in.

The worst part was that in all the chaos of unwrapping presents, FaceTiming far-flung grandparents and eating replacement cake, I didn’t get a picture of my adorable little birthday boy.

My eyes are tearing up as I write this, because it’s hard to admit. I wanted that perfect little picture so badly for two reasons: Obviously to have for my son to look back on, but also because every other parent in the world seemed to be posting art-directed cake smashing photo shoots online.

It’s silly, but I felt like a good mom would have made sure a DSLR captured her child covered in cake in front of a twee blackboard mural. And I didn’t.

The survey says plenty of other parents are feeling the pressure I felt. Forty-nine percent said social media stressed them out, and 62 percent cite competition as a reason to despise planning kids’ birthdays.

This year, I’m planning to keep it simple. We’re thinking we’ll take him to an indoor playground and out to dinner (mostly so someone else can make his dessert).

I’m sure it will get harder when he grows up and starts asking for parties, as most kids do. Research has shown little kids seem to think the birthday party itself is what propels them into the next year of life. I don’t want my little guy to think I’m holding him back, so we’ll probably go back to parties when he turns three. For that, I’m thinking renting a room at the community center and getting some take-out might be more my style (and less stressful) than hosting at home.

For parents of older kids planning simple parties at home, Netflix has a new Birthdays On-Demand feature that allows you to customize a message for your child using her favorite characters. (Just search Birthdays On-Demand on Netflix.)

Throw in a store bought cake and you’ve got a great kids party. Just remember to take a picture, even if you were the one who did the cake smashing. ?

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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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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