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10 random acts of kindness your family can do for #GivingTuesday

After the consumer madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it's nice to take a step back from the shopping and consider ways to give back to our communities. That's why #GivingTuesday was born, and today parents all over the country are taking a moment or two to use random acts of kindness as a teachable moment for kids who are growing up in a consumer-driven, me first" culture.

Here are 10 simple ways you can help your kids participate in #GivingTuesday:

1. Pick a charity and donate

If your child loves the local animal shelter or has known the pain of a stay at a children's hospital, today's a good day to help them drop off, email or mail a donation. Whether it's a couple bucks from your kid's piggy bank or a larger amount from your bank account, Giving Tuesday is about teaching kids that money doesn't just buy things, it also helps other people.

2. Pull off a random act of fast food kindness

In the line at Starbucks? Getting Chipotle? Offer to pay for the order of the people behind you. Use the moment to have a conversation with your kids about how it's nice to be randomly nice once in awhile.

3. Get crafty

Pull out the construction paper and help your kids make thank you cards for the people in their lives who don't hear it enough. A teacher, bus driver or coach might be on your kid's list. Maybe you will be, too.

4. Send a surprise

Far flung grandparents and aunties in other states will be expecting parcels a few weeks from now at Christmas time, but they're not expecting flowers at work today or an Amazon delivery waiting for them when they get home.

5. Bake for someone

Bring your kids into the kitchen and get out the mixer (or scoop out store bought cookie dough, there's no shame in that) and bake up a treat for a friend or family member who could use some cheering up. Just don't let the kids eat all the kindness before you have a chance to deliver it!

6. Talk about the importance of saying thanks

Take an extra moment to say thanks to the clerk at Target today, and talk to your kids about why it's important to use their manners. Especially during the holiday season, retail workers don't always get to see people doing that.

7. Buy some diapers for your local food bank

Even if your kids are out of diapers, today's a good day to buy some. Many parents struggle with the financial cost of disposable diapers and don't have the resources to use reusable ones. You're going to Target today anyway, right?

8. Involve your kids in thoughtful donation

Sometimes donations don't do as much good as they could because people donate things organizations don't actually need. Your local food bank may be overrun with canned goods right now, but might not have any milk. Assist your kids in calling up a charity and asking what they really need. Then, whether it's milk, food, diapers or cash, you and your kids can make it happen.

9. Brainstorm

Ask your kids for their ideas about random acts of kindness and help them act upon the ideas that seem the most reasonable. ("No, we don't have time to paint our neighbor's house, but yes, we can bring him a coffee.")

10.  Smile

Smile at everyone. Your kids will catch on and it will be contagious. Happy giving!

[Originally published November 28, 2017]

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.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 supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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