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My love—

Remember that night a few months ago? When the sight of us putting our three kids to bed most likely looked like a tiger trying to swaddle a freight train. There was screaming, tears, and tantrums. And the kids were pretty bad too. I cried to you while I nursed the baby and wondered why it was all so hard.

Things are different now. Not perfect—not even remotely close. And not even always good. Sometimes we still have bad moments. And by moments I mean days. And by days I mean weeks. But still, mostly better.

When we decided to switch our parenting style from "OH MY GOD JUST PLEASE DO WHAT I ASK ONE TIME" to a more peaceful approach, things started turning around. I had decided to dispense with my previous philosophy of, "Don't read parenting books! Just go with your gut!" and started reading everything I could get my hands on.

Raising Your Spirited Child seemed like a good place to start, seeing as how the other day I had caught my oldest child yelling at his brother, "Just do it! I'll catch you! I promise you're not going to die!"

From there, I moved on to Peaceful Parent, Happy Child which seemed like a good antidote to the working title of my autobiography, Hot Mess Mom, Feral Children. I read every article I could find on peaceful parenting. And while some of it made you roll your eyes when I started reading it out loud to you, slowly, it all started coming together.

While we've made a lot of changes (hello, earlier bedtime), looking back, here are the three things we did that I think helped the most in creating a more peaceful, and less chaotic, home:

1. Start taking care of ourselves.

Self-care doesn't have to mean a spa day. But you have to do a few things: Get as much sleep as you can. Eat three meals a day. Participate in some sort of exercise that isn't picking up toys. Go outside regularly. Drink water.

For you, it's working out. For me, it's getting out of the house alone. Deciding to protect that time with the ferociousness we do our kids' bedtimes has meant we snap less. It's easier to not lose your temper when I know in a few hours, I have a break coming.

But self-care can be even simpler than that. Taking a deep breath before I dive into the age-old dispute of 'but-I-was-playing-with-it-first' can help me remember that this is not an emergency, and we're all doing just fine.

2. Start appreciating our kids for who they are.

Remember when our second kid would call colors by the wrong name for so long we thought he was colorblind? And then we realized he knew the correct names, but just enjoyed being stubborn?

Sure, our kids are stubborn, demanding, and wild. But when we finally tuck them into bed at night, pull out our phones and start flipping through pictures of them, we remember their other sides.

They aren't stubborn—they have plans that they like to see through. They aren't demanding—they are inquisitive and want to know exactly how the world works. They aren't wild—they are enthusiastic and energetic.

(Okay fine, they are a little wild.)

Too often, at the end of a long day, it had been us-versus-them in the dinner, bath, and bedtime battle. We forgot to enjoy our kids—to laugh and play with them. Taking time to set aside the long game of raising good humans and remembering to enjoy them in the moment has shifted our perspective immensely.

3. Stop trying to win, and start trying to work out solutions.

Remember having this conversation a million times?

Kid: I want to go to the park!

Us: Okay! That is actually a feasible request. Put your sandals on and let's go.


Kid: (Dissolves).

Whenever we start trying to win a battle of wills with our children, we've already lost. In a power struggle, kids have the upper hand.

They say idiocy is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But nevertheless, that was our primary parenting approach.

So instead of getting into power struggles, we decided to start focusing on solutions. At first, it was a little weird to start giving them the power to make some decisions. We were the parents and shouldn't they just do what we say? I mean, yes, preferably, but we tried that tactic and it didn't work so onto plan B.

Us: Why don't you want to put on your sandals?

Kid: The wood chips at the park get stuck in them and hurt my feet!

Us: Oh, well yeah. Totally makes sense. How about your tennis shoes?

Kid: Okay! That is actually a feasible request. (Puts on sandals.)

Us: (Sigh from here to eternity and head to the park.)

I started looking for other opportunities to solve things that we were constantly battling over. They got dressed for the day before breakfast to lessen the leaving for school battles. I took out all the clothes in the drawers they were refusing to wear anyway. When they argued over a toy, I asked them to come up with a sharing plan of their own to satisfy both their needs.

When we take a problem solving approach, rather than our tried and failed power struggle approach, I remember to ask them why they are finding the task at hand so offensive. Seven times out of 10, the answer breaks my heart. They're scared of the dark, or they are worried about school tomorrow. The other three times they are usually over-tired or hungry. Or both. (Usually both.)

Are things perfect now? No. Did. I call you and beg you not to work late again tonight because I was going to lose my mind? Yes. (Self-care, honey. Self-care). But are things getting a little calmer at our house? Yes.

I mean, I set off the smoke alarm regularly while making dinner and someone is usually yelling at me to wipe their butt and the baby is taste-testing crumbs off the floor left and right. But I can handle that.

When I was big and pregnant with our first kid, we couldn't really comprehend the chaos we were bringing into our lives. We dreamed about walks in the park and reading Goodnight Moon while we snuggled in bed. Life isn't like that all the time.

Maybe our loud, rambunctious, and at times challenging family isn't what we pictured originally. But this is what we've always wanted. A family where we work through the hard times together. A family that chooses, first and foremost, to put love first.

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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