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I recently declared that I am a night owl and always have been. I somehow (usually) get a second wind after my children go to bed and suddenly want to write a novel, watch three episodes of Master of None and redecorate our home via my decor board on Pinterest.

I don't know if that will ever fully change, but I do know that I need to stop going to bed around midnight almost every night. Because it doesn't benefit anyone.

Plus, I recently got a taste of the early bird life, and I (surprisingly) liked it!

For a few months, I was able to wake up around 5-5:30 in the morning and either workout or get work done. All before my kids woke up. All in quiet. All with focus and determination.

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Then, the busyness of life took over and I slipped back into my old ways of going to bed super late and waking up in the morning at the same time as my kids. On days like this, I feel like I'm automatically playing catch up on productivity.

So, what do I do?

Well, I think September is the perfect time to reflect on and refocus our goals. I haven't been a student in a long time, but the end of August stills gives me those back-to-school feelings. It feels like a fresh start—a time to get back on track if you've fallen off the wagon.

As Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says in her latest podcast episode, “September is the other January."

We couldn't agree more.

If you're craving a better morning routine, here are a few ways that'll help.

1. Take baby steps

My night owl persona and my early bird persona need to compromise with one another.

Sometimes when I want to make these life changes, I set unrealistic expectations like, “I need to wake up earlier. I'm going to set my alarm for 4:30 am" Or, “I need to lose 15 pounds. I'm going to go to the gym five days a week."

Sure—these might be great goals for someone else or even me one day—but right now these goals would just be setting myself up for failure.

Instead, I'll start my goal of going to bed earlier with an 11 pm bedtime versus midnight. I'll set my alarm for a 6 am wake up call. This way, I'll still have time to myself at night and get some quiet, productive time in the morning before my kids wake up. Then, maybe 11 pm could turn into 10:30, 10, etc. And 6 am could turn into 5:30, 5:00, etc.

For me, baby steps usually work better than large leaps at one time.

2. Choose the morning

To me, nighttime is wonderful. It has always felt like my time. It will always tempt me. But is it the best choice for me?

Probably not. So, I will aim to choose more mornings than evenings—fresher brain cells over sleepy brain cells.

It doesn't hurt that some experts validate this too. I asked Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time what she thought about late nights. She said, “The problem with evening hours is people are generally too tired to do much but watch TV. You're probably not going to go run in the dark at night, nor are you going to start work on your novel when the Bachelorette is calling. We're tapped out by this time and don't have much energy. So we wind up puttering around the house, watching TV, or cruising social media."

Soo, maybe less TV, more to-do...?

3. Be proactive

Vanderkam explains, “Being proactive in the morning allows us to be more reactive the rest of the day."

And this can look different for different people. As Vanderkam says, “There are lots of things that can make a good morning routine. You can get a workout in. You can spend quiet time with your coffee thinking about creative work or big projects that are hard to tackle with the distractions at the office. You can do spiritual activities or other reflective activities like journaling.

Bring on the me time.

4. Prioritize the night before

In an article from her blog, Vanderkam suggests writing your to-do list for the next day before you go to sleep. “We tend to have more focus and motivation in the morning, so if you know what your most important tasks are for any given day, and roughly when you'll do them, you can spend your energy on execution, rather than deciding what deserves your attention. Even if something is undone, you know when it will get done, which can help you relax at night."

Preparation is key. ?

5. Make the best choice for me

Finally, Vanderkam explains that for many mothers, it's better to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier in search of “me time." She said, “Mornings are a great time for getting stuff done. This is time you can have for yourself before everyone wants a piece of you. When we accomplish great things in the morning, that sense of victory provides motivation for the rest of the day. By the time the rest of the world is eating breakfast, you've already made progress toward your life goals."

Solid morning routine = #lifegoals. ⏰

I know I want to make these changes because staying up super late isn't a sustainable life plan.

So this September, I'm going to give my new morning routine the old college try. I mean, it is back-to-school season after all, isn't it?

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.


Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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It doesn't cross my mind often but every once in a while I wander to a place in my head of What will it be like? As in, what will it be like when my boys are grown and have families of their own and our house is quiet?

I don't stay in those thoughts long, mostly because those same little boys need me right now but also because it breaks my heart a little. Of course, I do think about the kind of boys I want to raise. And about them—the person that will one day hold their hearts.

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When that time comes it'll be yet another season of adjustment for me and I'll no doubt lean on my village for support and commiseration. I'll do what I do best and likely try to befriend, cheer on and show my love to the point of embarrassment. I'll likely cry my eyes out in happiness and sorrow, not because of jealousy or angst but because those tender times of being the only love in their lives will be over.

It will definitely be a new season. And because of this future them I often think about me. Me in the role I'm serving right now to be the one that raises good men. There are so many things I want my sons to learn before they fall in love. But mostly, I want them to know this:

I'll teach them their values—to be genuine and kind to others. To treat everyone with respect and to work hard. And while I will teach them to be firm in their value system I want them to be open to accepting differences. That we all have stories and that those stories create the fabric of who we are and sometimes because of those stories we can have different values. I want them to seek understanding rather than turn away when something or someone happens onto their path that values different things. Whoever they fall in love with will also have their own values and together they will need to be compassionate as each work to bend where the other is convicted. These will be some of my hardest lessons.

I'll shower them with unconditional love and affection. And in doing so I'll teach them important lessons within loving boundaries. They will never need to question my love because they'll know it is unconditional. That true love is unconditional. I'll hug them tight because with each passing day they'll be growing closer to a man and the mercy of time will leave an ache.

I'll raise them to be independent men. I'll make sure they can do their own laundry and cook more than a frozen pizza. I'll grow them into men that can provide for themselves and for their future family. I'll also show them what it means to be an independent, smart and working woman by chipping away at the glass ceiling in a man's world. I'll show them that anyone can and should be the breadwinner of the family. And that in sharing those responsibilities they'll grow together.

I'll show them that a strong marriage takes work. I'll do this together with their father. As we work through tough situations and deal with the curveballs that life throws I'll find ways to share those pains with our boys so that they learn resiliency and compromise. So that they appreciate the sacrifice. I'll also show them that strong marriages, despite all the ups and downs, can be incredibly rewarding, happy and fulfilling. That marriage can be hard and challenging and wonderful and uplifting all at the same time.

So as I fold tiny superhero underwear and give daily reminders about putting the toilet seats down I'll keep reminding myself that if I do this right (or right enough) whoever they choose will be very lucky, and I'll again be one proud mama.

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Life

Here's how Halloween unfolds in most households I know: Mom spends weeks—even months—planning the perfect costumes for little ones. Then Halloween creeps up and they realize they need an outfit to coordinate with the kids' get-ups. What's a mom to do?!

Thankfully, there's no need for fear or pressure: There are so many ideas for parents that are easy to make and still super clever.

Here are a few ideas for coordinating with popular baby costumes:

1. Sloth and tree 

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My little one is going as a sloth this year—and given the fact that one of us will more than likely be wearing him Halloween night, we've decided to coordinate his costume by being a tree. All you need is a brown outfit paired with a DIY leaf hat or headband.

2. Taco and hot sauce 

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I'm not sure if there's anything cuter than a baby taco and you can totally rock a hot sauce costume to go with. Black leggings, red top and green beanie make for a great hot sauce costume.

3. The Addams Family 

Pinterest

All you need is some creativity with your wardrobe, but I bet you have all these things already.

4. Bee and the bee catcher

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If your little one is going as a bee this year dressing as a catcher is easy, well, can bee! ?

5. Rock, paper, scissors

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You'll need some paper, scissors and... sharpies!

6. Fish and fisherman 

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Every fish needs a fisherman...

7. Cop and robber 

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Turn the tables and let your little one keep you in line.

8. A bag of Jelly Beans

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I mean, how cute is this?

9. Farmer and piglet or cow, chicken or pony

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If you little one's rocking a farm animal costume this year you can tag along as their farmer. Blue jeans, boots and a flannel and you'll blend right in!

10. Avocado and toast 

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Go as your favorite breakfast combo!

11. A circus lion and a trainer 

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12. Spider and web 

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If you are baby-wearing this Halloween, dressing your little one as a spider and you as a web is simple and so clever!

13. Lion and safari guide 

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If you little one is rocking a roaring lion costume this year, going as a safari guide is the perfect ensemble!

14. Mother of dragons

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Except these are the cute kind of dragons!

15.  Sun and moon 

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​Take your costume game out of this world. 🚀

16.  Hawaiian shirt and pineapple 

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This may be the easiest yet: If baby is going a pineapple or other piece of tropical fruit, just throw on a Hawaiian shirt and pretend you're attending a luau!

17. Bakers and donuts

Pinterest

Who said you can't use floaties in the fall?

18.  Shark and surfer 

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Baby shark this Halloween? Dress as a surfer with board shorts and flip-flops. Add some fake blood if you have a baby Jaws.

19.  Burger and fries 

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Nothing goes better together than a burger with a side of fries and a baby burger will have everyone's taste buds going this Halloween. Add a side of mom or dad fries to the mix and you've got a tasty Halloween costume!

20.  Fire fighter and Dalmatian 

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If your little one is rocking a puppy or firefighter costume this year, you can go as the opposite. We all know firefighters and pups go hand in hand!

21.  Football player and football 

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Gooooo, team!

22.  Red riding hood and the big, bad wolf 

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Little Red Riding Hood always needs a big, bad wolf following her around. Buy or make a wolf mask and you will be the perfect pair!

23.  Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion or the Scarecrow 

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There are some great costume options to mix and match from The Wizard of Oz. And you know everyone will get the reference!

24.  Elephant and ringmaster 

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That cute little elephant could use a ringmaster on Halloween night. All you need is a red blazer and bow tie.

25.  Milk and cookie

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Got a baby cookie this Halloween? A refreshing glass of milk will pair nicely with it. Make carton of milk out of a cardboard box.

26.  Ice, ice baby 

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Dress as two bags of ice... And a baby. This costume is perfect for those teeny tiny babies that you want to keep indoors on Halloween night. Clear trash bags make for great "ice" bag costumes!

27.  Mouse and cheese 

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If you've got a mouse running loose this Halloween, lure them in with a slice of cheese. One of those cheese slice hats makes for a great cheese costume!

28.  Owl and Harry Potter 

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If baby is going as an owl this year you could go as one of Gryffindor's finest by breaking out an old graduation gown.

29.  Fox and hound 

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A baby fox isn't complete without his hound pal. Paint your face a puppy and add some ears.

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Life

According to the American Psychiatric Association, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is a mental disorder that affects more than 8% of children. The primary symptoms are inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought.

Even though ADHD is a condition that most everyone has heard of, there are a lot of misconceptions about it. The problem with these beliefs is that they add to the existing stigma around mental illness and make it harder for kids to get the treatment they need. Understanding how to parent or teach a child with ADHD requires knowing how the condition works.

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Here are eight common and dangerous myths about ADHD:

Myth #1: ADHD isn't real.

You'll sometimes hear people say that ADHD isn't a real condition, that the increase in diagnoses in recent years is part of the larger phenomenon of overmedicalization in our society. However, a consensus has existed within the medical community that ADHD is real and can be serious. Brain imaging scans show differences in brain development among children with ADHD, and research suggests that the condition can be inherited.

Skeptics question the authenticity of ADHD in much the same way they question the authenticity of other mental disorders. For instance, most people will experience symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. Does that mean most people are clinically depressed? Of course not. Similarly, even though many people find it difficult to focus on a task on occasion, only those with ADHD experience the spectrum of symptoms as a feature of their daily lives.

When people express doubts about the existence of ADHD, they reinforce the feeling kids have that there is something wrong with them they cannot fix or change. Acknowledging the condition helps kids externalize it as a set of symptoms that they can work to address and that explain why certain tasks are more difficult for them.

Myth #2: Kids with ADHD are poorly behaved.

Adults may see a child with ADHD talk out of turn or grab a toy from a playmate and conclude that the child is poorly behaved. This type of judgment overlooks the reality that kids with ADHD struggle with impulse control. In other words, they probably know that blurting out the answer in class is "wrong," but they may be unable to stop themselves from doing so. It shouldn't be assumed that kids who act out have ADHD, though. While ADHD can contribute to disruptive behaviors, it is never the sole determinant.

Myth #3: Kids with ADHD aren't as smart as their neurotypical peers.

The fact that kids with ADHD can have a harder time keeping up in school doesn't mean they're less intelligent than their classmates. They just process information differently. For example, kids with ADHD tend to be visual learners, which means they learn best when they can see the idea being explained, either in their heads or on a screen or piece of paper. Visual learners should be encouraged to take lots of notes or draw the things they're learning.

Myth #4: Kids with ADHD can't pay attention.

The mostly true stereotype about ADHD is that it makes it hard for kids to focus. When kids with ADHD find an activity that captures their interest, however, they can become engrossed in it. This can be a problem when a parent or teacher wants a child to move on to a new task because children with ADHD struggle with shifting their attention.

For example, a parent might find it impossible to pull their child away from a video game or TV show. On the other hand, a child might become hyperfocused on a productive activity such as an art project or a sport.

Myth #5: Kids with ADHD aren't trying hard enough.

Along with people who don't believe that ADHD is real, there are some who think that kids with ADHD need to try harder to pay attention in class or sit still at the dinner table. They see kids who are disorganized and unmotivated as lazy or undisciplined. Misunderstanding children with ADHD in this way can prevent them from getting the treatment and resources they need to thrive. It can also lead to the kind of harsh parenting or teaching that causes poor self-esteem and makes kids feel like something is wrong with them.

Myth #6: ADHD is only a problem for boys.

When people think of a kid with ADHD, they might picture a boy who is loud and a constant blur of activity. While the condition is indeed more prevalent among boys, many girls suffer from it, too. Compared to boys, girls with ADHD may appear spacey and off in their own world. They can be especially sensitive and emotionally reactive. They may also be more talkative than their peers and prone to interrupting others. In some cases, parents and teachers are not as well attuned to the symptoms of ADHD in girls and it often goes undiagnosed.

Myth #7: Medications for ADHD are gateway drugs.

Central nervous system (CNS) stimulants are the most commonly prescribed class of ADHD drugs. These drugs include amphetamine-based stimulants (Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat), dextromethamphetamine (Desoxyn) and methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Ritalin). There's an idea that kids who take medication for ADHD are more likely to abuse illicit drugs in their teens and beyond. But in reality, the opposite is true: Kids who take medication for ADHD are less likely to engage in substance abuse than kids whose condition goes untreated.

Myth #8: Medication is the only remedy for ADHD.

While the medications for treating ADHD in children have been proven to be effective and safe, there is no miracle drug. Children with ADHD will likely have to try varying combinations of medications and therapies before settling on the right one. In the area of emotional regulation, practitioners have found success with video games that incorporate biofeedback, as well as relaxation strategies such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. It's important that parents and teachers be flexible in their understanding of what works and appreciate that every kid is unique.

The bottom line: ADHD is treatable. When kids with ADHD receive the proper treatment (like psychotherapy, behavior therapy and stimulant and nonstimulant medications), they experience improved self-esteem, feel more at ease among their peers and family members, and are better equipped to lead happy and successful lives. If you think your child has ADHD, meet with a doctor or psychologist to determine the best way to proceed.

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Learn + Play

It's not quite Halloween yet but that doesn't mean we're not ready for holiday movies. Netflix just released its 2019 Holiday movie lineup (and if you think that's early, consider that Hallmark dropped its Countdown to Christmas more than a month ago) and we're ready for Holiday-themed rom-coms and family-friendly movie nights.

Netflix is serving up a mix of recycled Christmas content as well as brand new original movies and series.

The streaming service is kicking off the season with a Netflix Original movie, Holiday in the Wild, starring Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe on November 1.

Netflix Family on Instagram: “Rom coms. Seasonal baked goods. Shirtless Rob Lowe. There’s a little something for all of us this holiday season.”

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Other Netflix originals include Let it Snow (a teen comedy about how a snowstorm on Christmas Eve impacts a group of high school seniors) on November 8, and Klaus, an animated movie that will be a hit in any Minions-loving home as it is by the co-creator of Despicable Me on November 15.

Klaus | Official Trailer | Netflix youtu.be

And the highly anticipated second sequel to a breakout Netflix Original drops on December 5. The first A Christmas Prince was an unexpected viral hit, the second captured Royal Wedding fever and now the third, The Christmas Prince: A Royal Baby is coming to your Netflix account.

Here's the rest of the holiday lineup:

November 1

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Holiday in the Wild
  • Christmas Break-In
  • Christmas Survival
  • Elliot the Littlest Reindeer
  • Holly Star
  • Santa Girl
  • The Christmas Candle
  • Christmas in the Heartland

November 4

  • A Holiday Engagement
  • Christmas Crush
  • Dear Santa

November 8

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Let it Snow
  • The Great British Baking Show: Holidays Season 2

November 15

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Klaus

November 21

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL The Knight Before Christmas

November 22

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Nailed It! Holiday! Season 2

November 26

  • NETFLIX KIDS Super Monsters Save Christmas
  • NETFLIX KIDS True: Winter Wishes

November 28

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Holiday Rush
  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Merry Happy Whatever

November 29

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Sugar Rush Christmas

December 1

  • A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish

December 2

  • NETFLIX KIDS Team Kaylie: Part 2 Holiday Episode

December 5

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby

December 6

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Magic For Humans Season 2 Holiday Episode
  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Spirit Riding Free: The Spirit of Christmas

December 9

  • NETFLIX KIDS A Family Reunion Christmas

December 24

  • NETFLIX ORIGINAL Lost in Space Season 2

December 30

  • NETFLIX KIDS Alexa & Katie Season 3 Holiday Episode

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