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Getting enough sleep is more important than ever

Being quarantined and unexpectedly homeschooling is adding even more to the mental load of motherhood. Here's how to get rest, mama. 😴

woman sleeping

As the situation with the coronavirus unfolds among our nation, the mental load it is taking continues to reach new heights.

Two weeks ago my husband and I were passively discussing a late spring vacation, and today, like so many other families, we are confined to our homes with our kids out of school for an indefinite amount of time.

Each day—actually each hour—tends to bring more breaking news...more deaths, more virus cases, more closures. And it is taking a toll on all of us.

Last week, I obsessively consumed online media and news about the coronavirus well into the late hours of the night, and way past my normal (8:30 pm) bedtime. I thought about it as I went to sleep and as soon as I woke up. And not surprisingly, I could feel the anxiety taking over, especially as I tried to fall asleep.

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I am a pediatric sleep consultant, so I know how important sleep is. Right now, quality sleep is particularly vital to our physical and mental health. Getting a solid 7-9 hours of sleep at night for adults (and 10-12 hours for kids) is one of the best ways to keep our immune system healthy and equipped to fight off illness. But we can't do that if we are replacing rest with worry and stress.

If you are feeling anxious, mama, you are not alone. But it is crucial during these extraordinary times that you prioritize your mental health—including getting enough rest.

Here are a few ways you can make that happen this week:

1. Turn off your devices two hours before bed.

It is important to stay informed, especially so we can do our part to flatten the curve and protect our families and our communities. But we need to set a limit on our consumption of media now more than ever and especially while our children are watching.

Instead of looking at your phone or watching tv before bed, try reading a low-key book or engaging in conversation with your partner or a friend (talking about something other than the coronavirus).

2. Take time to check in with yourself.

If you're feeling overwhelmed and anxious in the evening, make a cup of tea or hot water and take some calming breaths. Maybe try a short meditation or prayer. When we stop and breathe intentionally, we invite fresh oxygen into our brain and our body's relaxation response is quickly ignited, helping to suppress anxiety and stress.

3. Set a bedtime for yourself.

Think of it as a date or an appointment in your calendar and do your best to stick to it. Without having an idea of when you should be in bed in order to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep, it is far too easy to watch one more Netflix episode or spend 10 more minutes on your phone (which let's be honest, easily turns into hours). During this time where things feel a bit unstructured, sticking to a bedtime for your entire family can help bring back some normalcy.

4. Find a way to exercise.

Even though your weekly workout class might be canceled, there are so many other ways you can move your body throughout the day. Many individuals are offering free online classes right now from the popular Tone It Up community to yoga studios, as it is so important that we all keep moving and stay as active as possible. Not only will this get your heart rate up, but it will also help you get more sound and restful sleep.

5. Journal your thoughts.

For years, I have kept a journal on my nightstand so I can jot down the things that inevitably come to mind as soon as I lay down. Research has shown that writing down your thoughts before bed can help promote sleep and decrease anxiety. (Specifically, if you are focusing on the things you are grateful for.)

The daily load that we carry as mothers is already heavy. And it has now just become monumental for millions of parents around the world as we struggle to balance working from home, caring for our children (or potentially sick loved ones), drastically changing our daily routines and trying to do so with as much grace as possible.

The reality of this situation is that things are going to look different for all of us for the foreseeable future, and most of this is completely out of our control. So doing what we can to take care of ourselves and our families—including prioritizing rest to overcome those feelings of fear—is what you need right now, mama.

It's what we all need.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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