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My kids and I stopped sticking to a regular schedule—and it has made such a huge difference

I dropped the "shoulds" and started doing what worked best for us.

My kids and I stopped sticking to a regular schedule—and it has made such a huge difference

Something I hear other parents talking about often is their child's schedule or routine. These schedules and routines seem to include any and everything that happens to their child throughout the day. It keeps parents from making plans: "Oh no, that's too late for the kids to be out" or "Sorry, we can't come cause that's right in the middle of nap time."

The lack of regular schedules can be stressful, especially when a child is thrown off of their sleep schedule. I'm sure every parent has experienced a sleepless night with a toddler because their nap was extra long that day or they had a rough afternoon with a cranky child who insisted on going without a nap.

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Most parents know the importance of a schedule and routine for their children for two reasons: it has been stressed to them by other parents or they've experienced the chaos that can ensue without them. The benefits of having this type of structure for your child aren't just anecdotal though. It's been said that children have a better chance of academic and behavioral success when they are given schedules and routines at home and at school. Children want to know what to expect and what is expected of them, they crave predictability.

So if I know this to be true, why would I say that I ditched a daily schedule for my kids? Well, I guess because what happened exactly is that I ditched my perception of the perfect daily schedule. I dropped the "shoulds" and started doing what worked best for us.

I've realized that keeping a schedule for your children can mean more than one thing. It seems that parents as "schedule followers" have a wide range of what that looks like for their family, and maybe even for each child. We know that every child is different and each has their own unique needs. Understanding this was a game-changer.

Family work, day care, and school schedules also made a huge impact on our family's home schedule. I became a mom five years ago and my work schedule has been different every year. I've changed jobs or my hours shifted at one of my jobs and I also spent two of these five years finishing my degree which meant different class schedules each semester.

All of this to say, I felt like I was failing by not having my kids in bed asleep at the same time every night. I would experience guilt for having dinner ready a little late some nights (or even a few nights a week). Some days, when I had focused kid time, we'd spend the day at the zoo or a park and just play right through nap time which meant my kids would fall asleep right before dinner. I would stress or worry that I wasn't parenting right because I wasn't good at sticking to a daily schedule.

But recently, I've realized that for my family and for my kids, a strict daily schedule isn't vital for us. My husband and I provide our children with stability—my kids know that we'll be there in the morning when they wake up. They know that when they aren't being cared for by us, they'll be cared for by family, friends, or teachers who love them.

My kids can expect that they'll have to clean up their toys before they go to sleep. Cuddles at bedtime are always part of our nighttime routine. We try to play outside, read, and dance during each day. I also try to make a point of laying out my plan for the morning or afternoon for my 5-year-old because he likes to know what's coming next.

I'm not writing this to tell anyone that they should throw out their schedule right now, and I definitely wouldn't want anyone to read this and think they're doing something wrong.

What I am saying is that everyone should find what works for their family right now, in the season that they're in.

Schedules used to cause me stress—and that's not only hard on me, but it's also hard on my kids. Instead, I have found what keeps our family happy and it doesn't feel disorganized or chaotic. I'd encourage you to revisit how your days are going and see where you could rework things to make for a smoother day.

And if you're feeling guilty or overwhelmed (like I was!) about staying on a schedule or the lack of one entirely—it doesn't have to feel like that. You know your children and your family and although it may take some time and patience, you can find ways to implement routines that meet your children's needs and works for your crew.

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. 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.

Our Partners

My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for two minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills.

"You're going to be hungry," I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising, and even though I'm trying to stay calm, I'm getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight, I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but at the moment… there was nothing.

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