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The benefits of a ‘Super Nap’ and why you need one, now, mama

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By the time my son turned a year old, we had eaten every meal with the vacuum on for seven months because this was the only way our boy, who my husband sheepishly called “Misery Guts,” would stop screaming. We’d put him safely in an electric rocking chair, flip on the vacuum cleaner, and he’d swing looking like he was in a trance.

We didn’t get to this breaking point easily.

First, the doctors told me he was colicky, so I rocked him day and night in my arms and even followed our midwife’s suggestion to put him in his bouncy seat on top of a loud dryer while we stood beside him.


When nothing worked, we then decided that perhaps he had stomach issues, so I took him to every pediatric gastroenterologist in town, and no one found a thing. Finally, when he was 5 months old, having given up pon ever getting a good night’s sleep or a break during the day, a neighbor at a holiday party told me my son was “spirited,” and that the only remedy when I needed a break from holding or hearing him was to put him in a safe place, turn on the vacuum cleaner, and get on with my life.

“You need to put yourself as your priority no matter what,” she told me.

She was right. The vacuum cleaner tip changed my life. I went from stressed out to at peace with the situation. I had a spirited child, and I was taking care of myself.

Early on in mothering, and sometimes throughout, we tend to forget that making ourselves a priority is key. But it’s not easy to truly take care of ourselves, and I found this out with my first child. The moment I flipped that vacuum cleaner on, I used my “me time” to get things done. Moms know this hamster wheels so well: we go and go and go until we collapse.

My collapse moment came in a supermarket aisle when I experienced a panic attack so fierce I thought I was dying. The hospital told me to take medication, and because I had to keep going as a mom, I did this for three years. Until one day I walked into a yoga studio and found a ‘Super Nap’ that changed everything.

To be honest, experiencing a nap was the farthest thing from my mind. I planned to take a challenging bendy-stretchy yoga class to get back into shape. But when I walked into the studio, I heard a voice guiding a packed room of women in meditation and I looked into the room, saw these women laying down with blankets and eye pillows, looking so stress-free in every fiber of their bodies that I thought, “I want what they got.”

Turns out what they got was what I now call a Super Nap, an ancient yogic sleep technique known as yoga nidra meditation.

The woman at the front desk of the yoga studio told me that, “45 minutes feels like 3 hours of sleep in your body,” and I was sold. What mother doesn’t want sleep to work for her like this?

I committed to take a Super Nap every Friday at noon for one year, and I couldn’t believe the results. Very quickly, I experienced better sleep and was a happier mommy. And then something unexpected occurred—I went off the anti-anxiety pills.

The chronically worn-out mommy who lived in a space of telling everyone she was “fine” when really “fine” was a code word for falling apart, suddenly shifted to well-rested and a place where I was thriving. Not perfect—no mothering journey is perfectly well-rested—but by prioritizing rest, I had finally put on my oxygen mask. (Plus, it was a great way to model rest to my children.)

Of course wanting a Super Nap is the easy part—all moms want more rest—but making time for it and learning how to make it a part of your routine can feel hard. And meditation, which is what yoga nidra is, can feel intimidating.

Whether you’re attending a guided yoga nidra class or listening to a meditation on your smartphone, here are some tips to make it less daunting:

Lie down.

Yoga nidra meditation is yogic sleep. While you can sit up and practice, it is ideal to lie down.

Let it happen.

One of the biggest barriers to meditation is thinking that you’re not doing it right. Meditation practice simply invites you to be more aware. In yoga nidra meditation, you are guided into deep sleep brain waves, but you don’t need to know this or think about whether you are in the dream or deep sleep state. Just follow the voice guiding you.

If your mind goes to your to-do list, don’t get upset—instead, keep gently going back to the voice guiding you. If you need to move to scratch yourself or get more comfortable, do it slow and mindfully.

As much as possible, concentrate on the feeling in your body. This is supreme “me time.” You’re getting sleep and reconnecting to your most authentic self. These two pieces equal a happier mommy.

What to do if you fall asleep while meditating.

The good news is that no matter what, during yoga nidra meditation, your subconscious mind hears the voice guiding you, so you will benefit greatly. If you do fall asleep, you won’t be the first mom to do this, but to stay more awake, you can try sitting in a chair a few times and then try lying down again.

Schedule rest.

Pick at least one day every week when you will take your Super Nap. If you can do more, great, but don’t over commit. You want to choose a Super Nap schedule that you can successfully do.

Ideal times are when you wake up or go to bed, because they bookend your day, so they’re hard to forget or skip, but for some moms that won’t work. For me, I developed a routine of meeting my husband at the front door with our two kids when he came home from work, handing them to him, and then going for my Super Nap. I made it non-negotiable.

At first, everyone has to adjust, but very quickly your family begins to see the results of the Super Nap and everybody’s happier. You, too. Trust me.

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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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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"

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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)


Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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