Living in the moment: 7 ways to enjoy motherhood more by being present

4. Put your phone away. Be in control of your phone, not the other way around. 

Living in the moment: 7 ways to enjoy motherhood more by being present

By: Kim Christenson

“You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow they’ll be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift.”
Jen Hatmaker

Have you ever noticed a mom brushing off her children while staring at her phone? Or who seemed constantly overwhelmed and exhausted by the demands of her kids?

It was probably me.

One day, I realized how bad it had gotten.

I was going through the motions of motherhood, and it felt like I was on an exhausting, dizzying carousel of meeting little people’s big needs. The role that once gave me joy and fulfillment started to feel like an overwhelming chore I couldn’t keep up with.

But for me, there was more to it than the natural demands of motherhood.

I realized I was distracted and disengaged. Distracted by social media, by expectations outside of my family that didn’t really matter and by all the things I had piled onto my plate to stay busy and “relevant.” I was engaged in other people and things instead of my own little babies.


I thought of them, older, and much more interested in their phones, their friends and their obligations outside of our family than in spending time with and connecting with me—which is exactly what I was doing.

I decided to take control of my time and invest it where it mattered.

Now, instead of feeling disconnected and racked with guilt at the end of the day, I focus on filling their cups and mine in meaningful ways.

A the end of the day, although there’s always room for improvement, I feel peace. Here are some things that help me be present with my children.

1. Wake up before your kids.

Or at least, if you can get away with it, stay in bed for a few minutes to read, think or meditate before you’re launched into the madness. That quiet time to center yourself before the day begins works wonders.

I know firsthand that this is not always possible depending on your stage in motherhood. If it’s not, plan a time during the day, even if it’s 15 minutes, when you can be alone. Maybe during a nap time, quiet time, while your kids are at school, or when your husband is home.

Instead of using that time to frantically get something done, choose something slow, relaxing and that you enjoy. For me, it’s yoga, reading or writing.

2. Exercise as often as you can.

I’m especially a fan of yoga because of how effectively it can bring about peace and mindfulness. However you choose to move—that time on your own is invaluable and the endorphins will give you a happy start to your day.

3. Put the kids to bed early.

Establish an early bedtime, or at least lights-out time. Creating a peaceful end to your days will help break them up instead of feeling like you’re in a never-ending cycle of need-meeting.

Also, take advantage of bedtime time to talk to your children and ask them about their day. Every night before bed, my kids tell me one thing about the day that they liked, one thing they didn’t like and something they feel grateful for. This little ritual creates an easy opportunity for my children to open up about what’s on their mind.

4. Put your phone away.

Technology (especially social media) has an uncanny ability to suck us into its world and detach us from the people who are actually around us.

This is a huge one for me. I’ve noticed when my kids or I are interrupted in the middle of using technology, our reactions are more volatile and grumpy than they would be if we were not having to jolt ourselves out of the technology zone. Log less minutes on your devices and more moments with the people you love.

5. Remember how fleeting childhood is.

You won’t always be this needed or wanted by your children. When you look back on how you spent these years, you will never regret spending more time with your children. Time spent with family is always a positive investment.

6. Have daily one-on-one time.

When I had my first child, we had a lot of mommy-daughter time together. But when our second and third children came, that changed. I made a goal early on to spend five minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one time with each child every day. It’s amazing how much this simple commitment does for my children’s happiness, behavior and our relationships.

7. Adjust your agenda.

When I’m most overwhelmed by motherhood, it’s often when I’m falling short of my agenda for that day. When I’m constantly interrupted from completing the things I expected to that day, I get frustrated.

I’m learning to change my expectations of what I consider a productive day. One day, when I ripped myself away from my to-do list and spent some time playing with my son in the backyard, I heard his sweet laugh. It was so joyful and pure. It hit me that I didn’t hear it nearly often enough.

It may sound cheesy, but in that moment, I decided that making him laugh was at the top of my daily to-do list. It’s really changed my (and his) life.

This article was originally published on No Sidebar.

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

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 support Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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