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Try these 3 mindful parenting tips next time you feel upset, mama

As a parent, you may relate to the struggle of containing your anger—I know I have.

Try these 3 mindful parenting tips next time you feel upset, mama

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”—Dr. Bruce Banner


Remember the story of The Incredible Hulk? Scientist Bruce Banner accidentally exposes himself to lethal doses of gamma rays, and his DNA is restructured. Afterward, in times of anger or extreme stress, the otherwise mild-mannered doctor morphs into a raging green monster known as The Incredible Hulk.

Dr. Banner desperately tries to control his rage and prevent the transformations so he won’t harm others; unfortunately, he fails. In the 82 episodes of the original television series, Dr. Banner transforms into the Hulk in every single one.

As a parent, you may relate to the struggle of containing your anger—I know I have.

I’ve been a longtime advocate of conscious, mindful, connected, positive parenting. That’s why I never imagined in a million years I would feel the urge to yell at children—until I had my own.

I realized no matter how deep my beliefs ran or how powerful my love for my offspring, the messy reality of kids pushing boundaries, the exhaustion of working while parenting, the bewilderment of seemingly out-of-the-blue tantrums, the countless attempts to tame reckless behavior, the shock of a child yelling at you because you gave him a different colored plate to eat on than usual...well, it can lead to some Bruce-cum-Hulk moments including chronic yelling.

You may recognize that once the anger seeps in and the yell creeps up to your throat, it’s a battle to keep the scream from pouring out. And after you yell?

Of course, you feel awful, maybe even ashamed; you vow it will never happen again; however, somehow, much sooner than anticipated, your inner hulk rears its ugly head again.

I want you to know that if you yell at your kids, you’re not alone. In fact, research shows almost 100% of us have been there. If you want to stop yelling at your kids, it is possible. I’m both a reformed yeller and a researcher, and I want to share some tips to help you get started.

When you feel the urge to yell, begin by being mindful of what you think, feel, and do.

1. Think

Angry self-talk often precedes a fit of hollers. In other words, when a situation triggers anger, thoughts usually race through our mind before we yell. I call these thoughts FAAT thoughts or First Automatic Angry Thoughts. The following are some sample FAAT thoughts:

  • Low resilience: “You’re whining again? I can’t cope with this!”
  • Shoulds: “How dare you throw your food! You should be behaving better than this!”
  • Condemnation: “You’re not letting me sleep! You’re being so needy!”
  • Situational assessment: “This is the absolute worst possible thing that could be happening! Why is this happening?”
  • Feeling thoughts: “I feel so angry I could scream!”
  • Pointing fingers: “It’s all your fault!”
  • Power/Control: “I’m going to show you the consequences of this behavior! You have to listen and respond appropriately to me, I’m the parent here!”

It’s easy to recognize FAAT thoughts because when your nervous system is at peace (i.e., you’re calm) you would rarely think or say those thoughts out loud. If you do say or scream them out loud when you’re angry, you usually end up regretting them or telling the object of your anger that you didn’t mean what you said.

Try this: When you feel a yell creeping up in your throat, observe your FAAT thoughts. Pretend the thoughts are trains passing overhead. Allow them to pass without trying to change them. Feel free to point at and label them FAAT thoughts. Eventually, after a couple of minutes, the thoughts will pass and you will have the opportunity to transform them into more conscious thoughts.

Alternatively, you can write out your FAAT thoughts as you’re having them. If writing feels challenging, you can record the thoughts into your phone or recording device. Listening to your first automatic angry thoughts can be a great learning experience.

2. Feel

Many of us were not taught explicitly how to feel our feelings. Often with the best of intentions, we were taught to calm down, relax, or somehow distract ourselves when angry. These techniques can lead to quashing important feelings that need to be processed.

In lieu of numbing the anger, try to notice and name the sensory experience. Noticing and naming angry feelings while they are happening brings your language center in the prefrontal cortex online; this, in turn, tames your emotional brain and gives you a better chance at reining in the yell.

Researchers in Finland did an interesting study asking people to map out where they feel emotions in their body. As you can see in the following image, anger often rests in the upper body. Where does your anger show up?

Try this: When you feel yourself about to yell, notice and name where in your body you feel angry. The following are some examples of noticing and naming your feelings:

I feel angry in my chest right now.

I feel a lump in my throat.

I feel tightness in my stomach.

3. Do

Remember, when Dr. Bruce Banner got angry, he felt powerless to turn into the Hulk, harming others with his rage. If you practice the first two steps above (in either order), you will come to the third: “Do” feeling more like you have a choice in how you react.

When you practice being mindful of your thoughts and feelings in the midst of anger, you are acknowledging and validating the inner Hulk...without acting or doing anything with the rage.

Try this: The next time you are triggered by your child, spouse, friend, circumstance, or something unbeknownst to you, observe your FAAT thoughts until they pass, notice and name where you feel your anger, and then do nothing. There is power in the choice not to react.

This article was originally published on PsychCentral.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. 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 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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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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