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When did the most wonderful time of the year also become the most stressful time of the year?

I’m going to guess it was around the same time my name changed to “Mom.” Because the holidays aren’t just about me and my husband anymore—they’re about our children. And with that comes responsibility. (And lots of it.)

Even as I sit writing this, my to-do list is winking at me out of the corner of my eye. Taunting me, getting longer by the minute. And it’s making me a little bit breathless.

The tree is up, the wreath is on the door, Michael Buble is crooning “Santa Baby” from the speaker in the corner, and it’s Christmas! I want to enjoy it!


But on top of the usual, not insubstantial business of running our everyday lives (which, incidentally, doesn’t come to a stop this time of year), December brings with it a whole new set of obligations.

Order the turkey, organize teacher gifts, collect non-perishables for the charity drive, find/make Christmas concert outfits, pre-buy Secret Santa gifts for the office, get the tree up, plan the menu, get show tickets, think up new and creative things for the Elf to do, wrap approximately 1,343 gifts before Christmas Eve, bake All Of The Things, not completely lose your mind, and so on.

And—oh!—don’t forget: make it all magical. ✨

Around Christmas time my brain feels like my childhood imaginings of Santa’s Workshop: elves working overtime and machines whirring frantically—so much crashing and banging it’s hard to think straight.

My own mother did it for many years, never letting on how much hard work it was to produce the holiday traditions and memories that would live on in the hearts of her children. And now it’s my turn. I just wish someone had told me how hard it is. How demanding it can be.

Except maybe I don’t wish that. Maybe I’m grateful for all those years of blissful ignorance, when the magic of Christmas just happened before my eyes.

Because of it, Christmas in my mind is a time of wonder. A time of believing in the good, caring about others and expecting the impossible. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. And because of that, I know what I want it to feel like for my children: exactly the same.

But I do have to stop and ask myself—does the magic have to come to an end for me just because I’m the one making it happen? Or am I entitled to a little sprinkling of that magic as well?

I like to think I am.

So here are some of the things I’m doing this Christmas season to keep the stress low and the magic abundant.

Giving myself the gift of intention

Before I get swept away in the wave of all the things that need to be done this Christmas, I’m asking myself the question, “WHY?”

Why am I doing this? Is it because it’s expected and it’s what we always do, or is it because it’s really going to make for a happier holiday season?

If it’s going to make me more stressed out then happy I’m relegating it to a different pile and letting it go. If it’s going to make my children smile from ear to ear and give them something precious to tuck away in their memory banks, then heck, I’ll stay up late and get it done. ✔️

Clearing the halls before I deck them

This isn’t always possible, but I’ve planned to get as much of “normal life” done as early as possible in the month. Meeting work deadlines, renewing car licenses, paying bills, scheduling appointments. These things are in my calendar for the first half of the month and after they’re done I’ll be able to focus on Christmas, and maybe even enjoy the holidays a little bit. ?

Project Christmas

It sounds somewhat joy-less, but in our house we’re attempting to project manage Christmas a bit this year.

Between my husband and I’ve we’ve drawn up a timetable scheduling in when things need to be or can be done, and who will do them. That way there are no stressful surprises waiting down the road just when we think we’re able to settle down on the couch with our metaphorical cups of eggnog. Already it’s working—the tree went up last weekend without a single argument! ?

Balancing yes’s with some no’s—and asking for help

Tis the season to celebrate, after all, so I want to enjoy myself. I want to open my home to friends and family, but I also want to hold onto my sanity. So I’m going to invite the people, but I’m going to ask the people to bring a plate of entrees. ?

I’m going to say “yes” to invitations until I need to say “no”. And when I do, I will feel no guilt. I do not need to be at every single party of the season.

“Happy over perfect” will be my motto

Most importantly, now that I’m a mom, Christmas is about my little ones.

I know for sure that they would prefer a happy mama who sings Jingle Bells with them while we bake together in the kitchen, flour in our hair and chocolate smudges on the floor, rather than a Pinterest-perfect Christmas.

What Christmas feels like on the inside of our home is so much more important than what it looks like from the outside. And that’s where I circle back again to intention. If it makes Christmas more magical for them, it’s worth it and then some. If it doesn’t, I’m choosing to let it go. ?

This Christmas, I wish the same for you.

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Jessica Simpson's life seems perfect. She has three beautiful kids, a wildly successful career, a seemingly solid marriage...she has it all, at least as far as we can see. But recent revelations prove that no one really knows what anyone else is secretly dealing with—and Jessica, by her own admission, has been struggling with alcohol issues.

The singer-turned-business-woman recently sat down with TODAY's Hoda Kotb, and it will air on NBC's TODAY Wednesday morning.

"I had started a spiral and I couldn't catch up with myself…and that was with alcohol," Jessica explained. "I would say it openly to everyone. 'I know. I know, I'll stop soon. I'll cut back'," Jessica continued when asked if she realized things were getting out of control. "For me to cut back, like I'm an all or nothing girl, and so I didn't know it was a problem until it was...I completely didn't recognize myself…I always had a glitter cup. It was always filled to the rim with alcohol."


She's hardly alone. The rise of #winemom phenomenon is well documented and many parents struggle with substance abuse problems. But Simpson's story proves there is a way to get your life back.

Simpson quit drinking in 2017 after she found herself unable to get her kids ready for a Halloween party. She says she'd started drinking before 7:30 in the morning, before accompanying her husband, Eric Johnson, to a school assembly for their oldest daughter. Later that night she was unable to get her kids dressed in their Halloween costumes. The next morning she was so ashamed. Feeling like she had failed her kids she slept until they left the house, then got up and drank some more.

That episode was her tipping point. She quit drinking (as did her husband, Eric Johnson, who supports her in her sobriety.)

As parents, we know how overwhelming the demands can be...and how easy it is to sink into habits that don't ultimately serve us well. For Jessica, the way to heal was to sever her relationship with alcohol.

"I had to give [drinking] up," Jessica said. "I'm not going to miss another day. I'm not going to miss another Halloween. I'm not going to miss another Christmas. I'm going to be present."


Babies come with a lot of stuff. And when you're out and about, a roomy, comfy diaper bag is the place for everything you need to be prepared for whatever the day throws your way. But is a cute, trendy diaper bag that doesn't scream, well... DIAPER BAG, too much to ask? It's not, mamas.

We've rounded up our favorite diaper bags that don't actually look like diaper bags, but instead like the cute, super stylish bags you might have carried before the days of finding crushed up puffs at the bottom of your purse.

These bags prove you can get the job done, mama—and look darn good while doing it.

Freshly Picked City Pack

Freshly Picked City Pack

This simple, modern backpack can easily take you from a day at work to dinner with the kiddos. We love the hardware details, the lightweight design, and the hidden back pocket.


Vogshow Waterproof Bag

Vogshow Waterproof Diaper Bag

A sleek look, plus a padded laptop compartment, anti-theft and insulated pockets and magnetic buttons instead of zippers. 🙌


Skip Hop Travel Bag

Skip Hop Travel Bag

With a large zippered main compartment, there's plenty of room to keep all of the things. We love the adjustable straps—you can wear as a backpack, cross-body, messenger bag, or attach to the stroller.


Companion Quilted Backpack

companion quilted backpack diaper bag

Are you off to sit on the beach for a few hours, or taking your toddlers to the zoo? No one will be the wiser, mamas. We love the quilted look, padded straps, and roomy interior.


Mommore Diaper Backpack

Mommore Diaper Backpack

With a water resistant exterior, wet clothes pocket and a main compartment that completely opens up, you'll love having this to tote around.


JJ Cole Brookmont

JJ Cole Cognac Diaper Bag

As stunning as it is functional. It has 15 pockets and a removable liner on the inside so you can easily clean up messes in no time.


Little Unicorn Boardwalk Tote

If you're looking to keep things simple + stylish, mamas, this is the bag for you. It's versatile, functional, and will get tons of use well past the diaper days.


Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

This stunning tote would make the perfect on-the-go bag. It comes with a changing page and a couple pockets on the inside to keep everything organized. Don't forget to personalize it!


Ticent Tote

Ticent Diaper Bag

With nearly 500 reviews, this one has incredible ratings. It offers multiple pockets, including an insulated one for snacks or bottles. The waterproof cotton material is ideal for those inevitable spills.


Fawn Design Original

Stylish and versatile, this bag can be worn as a cross body or as a backpack. It's roomy without being bulky, and has a total of 10 pockets for awesome storage.


Skip Hop Greenwich Backpack

No one would ever know this bag is packed full of baby's items. 😉


Rosie Pope Highbury Hill

Highbury Hill Diaper Backpack

If you're looking to up your style, this chic backpack will help you get there. Lots of inner pockets and zippered compartments make it simple to organize your stuff, and the top flap and wide opening make for quick + easy accessibility.


Babymel Robyn

Babymel Robyn Diaper Backpack

We love everything about this effortlessly stylish faux leather backpack. It's easy to wipe down, converts to a cross body bag, and even comes with a changing pad and drawstring bottle holder.


Petunia Pickle Bottom Pathway

Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Tote

This two-tone canvas bag could not be prettier. We love that it easily stands upright when set down, and that it's super functional as a diaper bag yet super stylish as an everyday purse.


Skip Hop Duo

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


Frustrations and emotions were at an all time high for both us. I was worried that my lack of patience would get the best of me, leaving her feeling let down and frustrated with me on her new journey of becoming a “big girl." And selfishly, I was tired of washing wet underwear. For her part, my daughter was tired of being asked for the hundredth time if she needed to use the potty.

We both were feeling a little defeated in this new adventure.

I have found too often as a mother that I expect my child to respond new things, like to potty training, as fast and as close to the last blog post, book or opinion I heard or read. What I have learned is that no two children are alike and the moment I release my expectations for where mine should or should not be, we are both brought back to peace and patience.


So maybe a break was all we needed to start fresh the next day. We headed to our favorite spot by the lake and had a picnic. My daughter munched on popcorn and chatted away about the weather and pinecones, and listened for the sounds of helicopters—which you hear quite often living on an aviation military base.

Sometimes in the daily struggles of motherhood I have noticed that I can forget who I am and the strength we possess as mothers. It may not come easily at first, but I grow with each new day. Even potty training—this mundane human activity that is emotional and (quite literally) messy, teaches me much about the meaning and purpose of motherhood.

Potty training has taught me a huge lesson on patience. Patience to be present, to pay attention to what is right in front of me. To be encouraging, to not rush the process, to not place expectations on timing or play the comparison game we often play as mothers.

Patience is needed in every area of parenting and potty training is just one way where we can see as parents where our patience is wearing thin.

I have found that it's when I come from a place of patience and presence that I can then glean wisdom from those messy, mundane, time-consuming tasks of potty training, and find that the waiting, sitting and hours of time spent in the bathroom gives me an opportunity to be present in my child's world.

Whether it be the grocery line, a traffic jam, or cleaning up wet bedding, I learn the art and joy in the small and big moments in motherhood. Giving our children space to fail and try it again as many times as it takes encourages them that they too can cultivate the gift of patience in there own tiny lives.

My daughter speaks to me everyday, inviting growth that sometimes feels really hard and frustrating, she provokes patience to be felt and sensed through every minute of the day. And for this I am grateful. Because to truly live and be present in my child's world means “I learn from her, and she learns from me." Even in potty training.

Our children have so much to offer to who we are as individuals and they have so much to teach us. In fact, I have come to live for these exhausting, beautiful, and downright messy moments in time. When I push myself to embrace them, rather than just find them frustrating, I stretch and grow and evolve. I become the mother I hope to be.

And to you mama, whether in the midst of sleepless newborn nights or toddler tornados or the midst of potty training, may you find strength as a mother, as a wife, and as a person to let go of any expectations or judgements you place upon yourself.

May love and gratitude fill our hearts and peace be with all of us on the journey that motherhood is.

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