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4 ways to bring calm to a chaotic home, mama

The busyness of life seems to have leaked into our home life.

4 ways to bring calm to a chaotic home, mama

Does family life feel too disorganized? Too chaotic? Too erratic? Would you like more ease and flow and calm in your home?

I know exactly how you feel, mama.

The busyness of life seems to have leaked into our home life. Now instead of feeling like a sanctuary, home can feel like mayhem. We probably don't want to stamp all of the idiosyncrasies out of family life—because that would make life boring. But we can create a bit more ease and flow. And our kids can contribute to that sense of ease and flow, too.

Here are four realistic ways to create some calm in your home.

1. Agree where things live

While it may seem daunting, you can have a place for everything. The school notes go on the fridge, the dirty clothes in the laundry basket, the toys in the toy box, the shoes by the front door and the books on the bookshelf.

This won't guarantee that everything will put in its place, but it does mean that our kids will know where things belong. It also means that we can give them a gentle reminder with a single word, such as 'Laundry,' or a quick question, 'Where does that belong?' instead of making them feel like we're nagging or yelling.

2. Create family rhythms

Not everyone is in favor of routines because they can feel too structured and inflexible.

That's why I like rhythms as a way to punctuate our day. Rhythms can still provide a form of organization and structure but can be a bit more fluid and flexible. Instead of family life feeling like one long list of too much to do, establish a few rhythms that create certainty and ease.

For example, the morning rhythm could be:

  • Wake up
  • Eat breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Brush teeth
  • Brush hair
  • Pack bag
  • Play (if there's time)

The arrive home from school rhythm:

  • Take out lunch bag and notes from bag
  • Put bag away
  • Have snack
  • Do homework

The bedtime rhythm :

  • Bath or shower
  • Get into pajamas
  • Brush teeth
  • Read
  • Sleep

Life with a baby, toddler or preschooler:

  • Go out in the morning (activity, to the park, library, or to see a friend)
  • Home for lunch
  • Rest or sleep
  • Play at home
  • Pack up
  • Dinner
  • Bath
  • Storytime then sleep

Family rhythms can make life simpler because we don't need to think about what has to be done in the morning, after school or before bed because there's already an established pattern.

And with rhythms, your kids have a feeling of safety and security because they have a general sense of what's next. They also know that they can play in the morning once they're ready for school or they can get a snack after they've put away their toys or you'd love to read a story with them once they've brushed their teeth.

3. Enjoy family rituals

Family rituals are lovely repeated actions that are shared together as a family. They might be daily rituals, such as having a cuddle session before getting up for the day or talking about something good that happened that day over dinner, or reading a story in bed before sleep time.

They could be weekly rituals, such as every Friday after school, you stop at the cafe and talk about what happened that week, or every Sunday night discussing what everyone is looking forward to next week, or having a regular movie night with popcorn and ice cream.

They could be rituals that happen on special occasions, like every birthday going out for dinner at a certain place, or during the summer holidays, going to the beach.

Rituals create memories in our families. They help to create closer connections and help us to enjoy more magical family moments together.

4. Let go of what isn’t important

Even if you have a place for everything and you've created beautiful family rhythms and rituals, sometimes you just need to let go. (I know, it's hard, mama.)

Give yourselves and the kids a break. You can stop. Rest. Lower your standards. Overlook something that isn't *really* important.

You can recognize when everyone is tired and just needs to leave the house a mess for now. Or that everyone needs some downtime so you don't go out to that regular event. Or, get take-out tonight instead of someone having to cook.

It's okay to break your rhythms because everyone is tired or it can be done tomorrow. Sometimes what's most important right now is everyone finding their own ease and flow.

So what would you like to try?

  • Is there something that is always lying around the house that you can find a home for?
  • Is there a way that you can say a single word or ask a question instead of nagging for something to be put away?
  • Can you create a rhythm together with your kids for the time of the day that feels most stressful?
  • Can you try a new family rhythm and then review how it's going?
  • Can you create a family ritual that is all about connecting and enjoying each other?
  • Can you be more present and in the moment with a current ritual so you enjoy it more?
  • Can you let go and open up space for everyone to find their own ease and flow?

Pick three things above to try out this week. Start a ritual, make a home for those items that stress you out, and give your family a little grace to find a flow that works for them.

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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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 www.comfortsforbaby.com 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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