Exhausted mama—here’s how to make rest a priority

I'm setting a bedtime and sticking to it, because if I don't, the list of to-do's will never end—and let's be real, this girl can binge watch Netflix until 2 a.m.

Exhausted mama—here’s how to make rest a priority

This week my Facebook feed was primarily made up of adorable pictures of kids going back to school and moms shedding tears as they watched their little ones reach yet another exciting milestone (this one included.)

I really, really love this time of year. Fall is approaching (my favorite season ?) and we all slide back into a much needed routine.

But there's something that these pictures don't show—behind each perfectly tied bow and perfectly ironed button up, is one tired mama.

I found myself contemplating another cup of coffee this week more times than not and suddenly waking up to the complete opposite of feeling refreshed. And here's the kicker—my son is seven now, so new parent exhaustion should be a distant memory, right?

With being a school-aged mom for a couple of years now, I've realized that with each new school year comes a new set of activities, commitments and a whole lot of running around. My excitement for adding some structure back into our lives seems to also add another level of busyness—and the result always seems to be less sleep.

The thing is, parenting (albeit wonderful!) is exhausting no matter how old your kids are.

To the new parents out there—we know how real that feeling of exhaustion is. It's so, so, so tiring. You will sleep again—promise. ?

To the parents of toddlers—everyday is a marathon chasing after your little humans and you are my hero. #PourAnotherGlassOfWine ?

To the school-aged parents—your constant to-do list is enough to keep you up at night. Believe me, I know. I'm with you. ?

But in the midst of all the chaos and stress are moments of magic and delight that keep you going and make it all worth it.

Still, I've decided that this year I'm making a vow to make rest a priority and here's how I'm doing that.

1. I'm not going to do doing all of the things.

On top of homework, football, preparing meals and my job, life is crazy enough. Throw in PTO meetings, school projects and volunteer work and some days life seems impossible. This year, I'm going back to basics.

I'm learning how to say no and prioritizing the things that are most important. And for me those are—faith, family, work, school, health and then all of the other things. If extra commitments mean less time with family or start to affect my health, they aren't making the cut this time.

With less on my plate and fewer headaches trying to coordinate my calendar—exhaustion becomes much less likely and rest becomes possible.

2. Bedtime means bedtime.

As parents, this seems to be a rule we have no problem enforcing with our children, but when it comes to our own bedtime, it isn't as much of a priority. Maybe because we don't really believe as adults that bedtime is something that actually exists, or maybe it is because those glorious hours of having moments to yourself far outweigh your need for some additional zzz's.

Either way, I'm setting a bedtime and sticking to it, because if I don't, the list of to-do's will never end—and let's be real, this girl can binge watch Netflix until 2 a.m.

3. I'm taking time to wind-down before bed.

So many of us expect to fall asleep the moment we hit the pillow (myself included.) Well, I have never been that person and it couldn't be more annoying that while I lay there trying to trick my mind into shutting off, my husband is in a deep sleep and snoring within five minutes. I am also guilty of staring at my phone or computer screen too close to bedtime, which as most of us know is the best way to ensure you will have trouble falling asleep.

So instead, I'm going to try giving myself 10-15 minutes each night to read a book, listen to music, or take a bath—all of which help to relax and prepare your body for bed physically and emotionally.

4. I'm letting go of perfection.

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I want to be a Pinterest Mom all of the time, but the reality is that is just too darn tiring. Far too many times than I'm willing to admit, I have stayed up until past 11 p.m. perfecting my son's school project or making homemade cupcakes for the soccer team. Well this year, the kids are getting store-bought treats (gasp!) and I will actually let my son complete his own project (as I should have anyway.)

The reality is, I don't have the time or energy to dedicate to being the next Martha Stewart, and I would rather focus on the things I can do well and that need my attention.

According to the CDC, sleep is becoming a public health problem and a rising epidemic in our society. As parents we have more than enough reasons why that can be true for us, but we don't all have to feel like walking zombies.

We can start by making these small shifts together, making sleep a priority and getting the rest we all need!

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

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 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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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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