How to cope when you've had no sleep 😴

First step? Do less, mama.

how to cope on no sleep

So much sleep advice out there is about how to fall asleep, how to get to sleep, or how to stay asleep. That advice is valid, but if you're parenting a young one, it's probably for a different time in life.

I went from occasional sleepless nights– tossing and turning in anxiety before I had my son—to going into an immediate unconscious stupor at every possible chance after I had him. Those chances, however, were few and far between in the first six months.

It's one thing to have the time to sleep but be lacking in the ability to harness it, and completely another to be dead tired, nearly asleep on your feet, and responsible for a tiny screaming creature that sleeps in only two-hour spurts.


For most of us, thankfully, this period is brief. I've heard it referred to as: “Baby bootcamp," “one long day-night," “the best of times and the worst of times," and ever since Stranger Things came out, “the upside down." It can be extremely painful, and even dangerous. I left our gas stove burner on so many times in the first year of our son's life that my husband bought an electric tea kettle and hid the old one. I'm still on a self-imposed oven-use ban unless there is another adult in the house.

After a nice long stretch of our son sleeping through the night, he recently started waking up again, randomly. While I know it's a phase, it inspired me to get some expert advice for when you know you won't be getting the hours of shut-eye your body and brain are craving.

Do less

“We live in a culture that emphasizes that mothers should have it all or do it all," says Gaby Merediz, mom of two and the brainchild behind Make Your Perfect, a company that teaches mothers how to reconnect with themselves even when they don't have time for it.

Her advice for this trying time is throw away the to-do list, or hand it off to someone else. “There are few things that are so urgent that you sacrifice your health for them," she says. And it's so true.

A practical example from Gaby: “When you shed some responsibilities, you can go to bed at 6pm instead of making dinner and staying up late to do the laundry. When your baby wakes up at midnight, you will have already gotten a full six hours of sleep!"

Ask for help

If you're expecting, or your child is starting to hit a rough patch in the sleep department, go out and recruit family and friends for help right now, says Lesley Yadon, Life Coach with a Masters in Counseling, who specializes in supporting first-time mothers.

“Ask them if they are willing to take up responsibility for things such as cooking, cleaning, and meals in the early days so that you can rest and care for your baby," says Yadon.

It might sound awkward, but when you put yourself in the shoes of those who love you, it's not at all. “Remember that asking for support gives the gift of giving to someone else," she says.

If you get cold feet, “Think of a time you were able to help someone else. Remember how good it feels to be of service to someone? You are blessing another person by asking for support."

It can't hurt to line up the contact information of professionals, either. “You may need extra help from a sleep coach or mental health professional if you find yourself so worried and anxious you can't function, feel disconnected from your baby, don't feel emotion, or you're feeling uncontrollable emotions," she says.

Ask your family and friends to be on the lookout for these warning signs too. “If you are repeatedly doing things that are a bit wacky or strange or accidental, that's a red flag you are not getting enough sleep," she says. Maybe, like, leaving the burner on so many times that you're banned from household stove use?

Be gentle with yourself—and your partner

“Couples have their worst fights when they are either sleep deprived, or intoxicated," says Erika Boissiere, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco. “The truth that many of us don't talk about is that sleep deprivation can be extremely hard on your relationship."

The problem, she says, is that when you are sleep deprived, you are also less able to recognize the signs of sleep deprivation in yourself. “Symptoms include: Irritability, impulsivity, being reactionary, making uninformed decisions, being moody, angry, and/or depressed, weight gain, acting unpredictably, sadness, and anxiety."

Signs can show up after as few as three nights of bad sleep. “During the first six months of your baby's life, if you and your partner get into a fight, I want you to first ask yourself this question, before figuring out the fight: “Are either of us sleep deprived?" says Boissiere.

Once you know you're sleep deprived, you've taken a break from your regular household duties, and you've gotten the support you need, it's time to mitigate the damage.

Boissiere has provided these five quick tips for finding the sleep you need:

1. Monitor your sleep cycles in a simple journal

Log hours you've slept—not your baby's! Usually, after three bad nights of sleep, major symptoms begin to appear.

2. Take the night off

If either you or your partner is in a sleep deprived state, give that person the “night off." Have them sleep in a separate room, whether it's the living room on the couch or any area where they can't hear the baby. Give them earplugs, a white noise maker, and let them get a full night's rest.

3. Sleep whenever you can

If the baby naps at 1 PM, take a nap with them. The dishes can wait. Your sleep is the most important thing you need to function as healthy parent.

4. Take turns

There is no need for both parents to be awake in the middle of the night, after countless nights. Take turns. Your relationship and your baby will thank you. If you are “off" be truly off. If you are on, then take full ownership.

Oftentimes, one, if not both parents, get trapped in the belief system that, “She's on maternity leave and I have to go to work, therefore she should stay up with the baby." While that makes good sense in some regard, the issue is that she is going to work too. She will be working for the next 12 hours with a baby that is unpredictable, cries, poops, and could be fussy. That is a tough job!

5. Load up breastfeeding bottles for the night-shift

If you are breastfeeding and your partner has the baby that night, you both can get your baby to bottle feed fairly early on. Make the bottles in preparation the night before, put them in the fridge, and get some shut eye as your partner cares for the baby.

Getting the sleep you need might seem impossible. Here's a little something for each of you that can help.

Dreamland Baby weighted sack + swaddle

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack

Designed with the same principles as weighted blankets to provide the littlest sleepers with a sense of calm and comfort, this innovative sack with detachable swaddle wing helps babies get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. More sleep for baby means more sleep for mama. Win!

$79

Sunday Citizen bed size snug blanket

Sunday Citizen bed size snug blanket

Whether you're snagging a cat nap or trading off for a solid chunk of bedtime sleep, make it as cozy as possible. The ultra plush (but still totally breathable) knit blanket from Sunday Citizen feels like sleeping on a cloud. Bonus points for its durability and for being machine-washable, making leaky diapers, boobs and spit up bombs no problem at all.

$150

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

The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

Conz Preti

Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


Belly oil

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

$58

Belly mask

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

$42

Nipple + lip ointment 

HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

$28

Belly tattoos

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

$18

This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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 created the flexible online birth class moms need

The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

You've got this.

Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

The Motherly Birth Class

pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

$79

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This post is sponsored by BABYBJÖRN. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are 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 indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

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

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden 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

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-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.

$19.95

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

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

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.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

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.

$79.99

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

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20 Halloween costume ideas for the whole family

Because dressing up isn't just for kids!

@one_fancy_cookie/Instagram

Dressing up for Halloween isn't just for kids! There are so many creative ideas that are fun for everyone—the whole family can participate. If you're in the market for the best family Halloween costumes, you're in luck. Instagram is prime real estate when it comes to creative Halloween costume ideas for every member of your family (even the four-legged ones).

Make trick-or-treating all the more fun with coordinated costumes for your entire fam! From of-the-moment pop culture references to tried-and-true classics, we've got you covered.

Here are the top family Halloween costumes, according to Instagram:


Under the Sea, Disney-style

Cruella and her beloved Dalmatians 

Zoinks! Jinkies! A family mystery adventure

It's a Mario Party!

Corpse bride, but make it cute

A 'Yabba Dabba Do' Halloweek

An easy-peasy Halloweenie (family PJs are the BEST)

A Victorian vampire family is ALWAYS in style

Old MacDonald had a farm, alright

The cutest 'Nightmare Before Christmas' ever

A 'Greased Lightening' gang!

Family love, to infinity and beyond!

An absolutely 'Pooh'-tiful Halloween idea!

Because parents love 'Descendants' just as much as kids do

The force will be with you always in these costumes!

A 'derby'-lightful Halloween idea for your inner Horse Girl

Super suits for the whole 'Incredible' family!

Those baby sharks aren't as harmless as they look (this family NAILED it)

Winner, winner, Princess Bride dinner (OMG those R.O.U.S. costumes)

What can we say, except 'You're Welcome'

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