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9 tips for hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving

3. Enjoy a moment to yourself before guests arrive.

hosting a stress-free Thanksgiving

Food magazines may tell a different story, but striving for perfection on Thanksgiving is only bound to stress you out. Before your holiday planning begins in earnest, take a moment to discard too-high expectations, and focus instead on what a happy Thanksgiving Day would really look and feel like to you.

To me, it involves a messy kitchen, tried-and-true dishes, loud and boisterous good times with family, shared thanks, an afternoon walk in the fallen leaves, and someone pitching in to help with the dishes. This Thanksgiving, learn to embrace imperfection for a less stressful and more meaningful holiday.

Whatever your holiday looks like, here are are 9 tips for hosting a calm, heartfelt holiday:

1. Set a simple table (and set it early)

If you love pulling out the heirloom china and linens for Thanksgiving, honor your tradition but give yourself enough time to get everything just right without feeling rushed. Doing it the evening before is ideal. And what if you're not that interested in setting an elaborate table? Give yourself permission to keep it basic. Everyday white dishes, clear glasses (or even jam jars) and cloth napkins let the abundance of the Thanksgiving meal take center stage.

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2. Prepare as much as possible ahead of time

Lots of traditional Thanksgiving dishes can be prepared the day before, if not earlier. Take advantage of this fact and make a dish or two ahead. Ready-to-serve food in the fridge is like money in the bank. Even if you have only half an hour the day before to devote to prep, you could wash and chop the veggies, saving time (and precious counter space) on Thanksgiving.

3. Enjoy a moment to yourself before guests arrive

Remember, when you are relaxed and happy, your guests will be, too. So light a fire (or some candles), put on music, get dressed and pour yourself a little glass of wine or cup of tea. Savor the stillness before the storm of cooking, family and friends descends upon your house.

4. Set up a drinks station outside the kitchen

The living room or a spacious foyer would make the ideal spot for a beverage station—it's out of the way of the cooking and easy for guests to find as they come in. Keep beer, white wine and bubbly chilled in a cooler, drinks for kids in a bucket of ice, and glassware and other beverages on a tray.

5. Stick with easy appetizers

Aside from the fact that you want your guests to save room for the main event, offering simple appetizers, like roasted nuts or a cheese plate, will make your life much easier. On the day of, be sure to put the snacks someplace away from the cooking to cut down on kitchen traffic.

6. Take mindful breaks throughout the day

Use a repetitive task—like washing dishes, answering the door or opening the fridge—as your cue to breathe in deeply. Exhale, loosen your shoulders, relax and move on. By taking many of these tiny pauses during a busy day like Thanksgiving, you may feel calmer and more aware of the simple pleasures that are there to enjoy, even amid the chaos: the scent of the turkey roasting in the oven, the autumn leaves swirling outside the window, the sounds of lively conversation and laughter.

7. Pick your favorite cooking tasks and accept help for the rest

Whether you love to bake, make a killer gravy or always do the green beans, claim your preferred dishes and farm out the others. Invite family and friends to contribute something and don't worry about picking up a few store-bought items to fill in gaps.

8. Get folks out of the house while the turkey cooks

As the kitchen fills with wonderful aromas and the kids (big or little) get antsy, encourage a group to go outdoors for a bit of fresh air. Sure, some will want to stay in and watch sports on TV, but for the rest, a brisk walk or a game of touch football can be just what's needed before a big meal. This can also be a good time to give children the task of creating decorations for the table: Collected leaves make beautiful place cards when written with a metallic pen.

9. Pause before digging in

Say a special grace, read a poem or ask everyone at the table to share something they're thankful for this year—whatever you choose, pausing before the meal is part of what makes Thanksgiving special.

Originally posted on Houzz by Laura Gaskill.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. 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 Comfortsforbaby.com 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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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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