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These celebrity parents prove co-parenting can be such a rewarding experience 🙌

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There are a lot of preconceived notions about what a family "should" look like, but according to the Pew research center, it is no longer the norm for a baby to be born to and raised solely by parents who are married to each other. "There is no longer one dominant family form in the U.S. Parents today are raising their children against a backdrop of increasingly diverse and, for many, constantly evolving family forms," Pew noted in its report, Parenting in America.

That's why we love to see celebrities celebrating the diverse forms their families take. Children today need to see that blended families are every bit as awesome (and normal) as a families where mom and dad are married.

Here are some of our favorite famous blended families:

Jennifer Lopez + Alex Rodriguez

Jennifer Lopez is a woman of many, many talents: She can act, sing, dance, design...and, if a recent Instagram post from fiancé Alex Rodriguez is any indication, she can co-parent with the best of them as well.

In an interview on the TODAY show, JLo told Hoda Kotb a story that brings tears to our eyes.

"I got the most beautiful card from Alex's daughter, Tashi [that's Natasha, age 14]. And she told me it's an honor to be your stepdaughter. Again, I start crying," Lopez, 50, said. "I just feel so blessed to have all of the dynamics that are going on in my life right now. You know, and first starting with, you know, creating a family that I've always wanted."

This is just the latest in a series of stories that prove J Lo, A Rod and J Lo's ex, Marc Anthony are total co-parenting goals.

A few months ago the trio made us smile when they shared a moment from J Lo and Marc's son Max's music recital. The three adults sat together in the audience, and Alex shared the sweetest video clip from the event. The video shows A Rod sitting between the exes: Both Jennifer and Marc playfully lip-sync the words to "I Will Always Love You" as their son and his group perform the classic.

Alex sits in between them laughing—because, by his own admission, he can't quite keep up with the former couple on a musical level. "Those who can, do," Alex writes alongside the video. "Those who can't, sit between two people that can and stay quiet! #imnotasinger."

But J Lo and Marc's musical chops are definitely not the only impressive thing we're seeing here. Co-parenting is nothing new, and this is certainly not the first set of celebrity parents to keep working together as parents even after a breakup. Still, this display is both heart-warming and seriously commendable. Marc's willingness to welcome his ex-wife's future husband into the fold, Jennifer's ability to balance her co-parenting relationship along with her romantic relationship, Alex's comfort level with his bride-to-be's family—it's all really wonderful to witness.

Soon after, Jennifer returned the favor by joining her future husband's family to celebrate his daughter's middle school graduation. Her kids were on hand as well to pose for a family photo.

And recently, when A Rod's eldest daughter made the move up to high school, the whole family, including A Rod's ex-wife (Natasha's mom) Cynthia Scurtis and her new partner, Angel Nicolas posed for one happy group photo.

Coming together for their children's events is nothing new for this family. A year ago, Alex shared another Instagram shot of group watching his daughters, Natasha and Ella, and Jennifer and Marc's daughter, Emme, perform at a dance recital. He added the hashtag "#familia" to the photo. We've said it once and we'll say it again: Their ability to function so well as a blended family is incredible...and very healthy for all involved parties.

We're loving this glimpse into this modern family's ability to work their situation with so much grace and maturity!

Kourtney Kardashian + Scott Disick

The eldest Kardashian sister and her ex, Scott Disick, make headlines time and time again for their close post-breakup relationship. Despite the fact that they've severed romantic ties (and that Scott is seriously dating Sophia Richie), Kourtney and Scott have remained important parts of each others' lives. And why shouldn't they? They may not be a couple anymore, but they are family.

As co-parents to Mason, Penelope and Reign, Kourtney and Scott even vacation together (who could forget that much-discussed Bali trip?). And while everything the Kardashians do seems to make its way into the public eye, Kourtney's decision to co-parent in plain sight is a conscious one. "I feel like I can show a message, too, of like parents [who] can get along and work together and travel together," Kourtney once told TODAY. "And I think it's a good message to show other people."

One of the coolest things about this former couples' co-parenting relationship? The way they welcome Scott's current partner, Sophia, into the fold. Reports indicate that she and Kourtney get along well, and that Sophia has a great relationship with Scott and Kourtney's children.

Gabrielle Union + Dwayne Wade

Gabrielle Union recently became a mama after a long battle with infertility and pregnancy loss—but she's been a stepmom for years, and she's embraced that role in a really beautiful way.

"Being a stepparent is incredibly difficult. You never quite know your space. No one ever thanks the stepmom! No matter what you do, no one ever is like, 'And I just want to say a shoutout to—' [or] 'And I'm gonna buy my stepmama a mansion when I make it big," Gabrielle told Rachel Ray during an appearance on her talk show. "[But] it's also awesome knowing that—even without any outside validation—that you're a consistent, compassionate, loving adult who puts the kids' joy and their peace of mind and their innocence first."

Difficult as it may be, Gabrielle and Dwayne have managed to make blending their family look totally seamless. They're routinely spotted with Dwayne's sons, Zaire, Zion and Xavier — and now that they've added their daughter, Kaavia, to the family, the brood has seemingly become ever more close-knit.

Kelly Clarkson + Brandon Blackstock

When Kelly Clarkson married Brandon Blackstock, she didn't just gain a husband—she also became a stepmother to his children, Savannah and Seth. "We all live together and everything. It's so different, but it's perfect. They're awesome, and I actually really dig the mom thing," Kelly said of her role as a stepmom during an appearance on On Air With Ryan Seacrest.

Since then, Kelly and Brandon have welcomed two more children, River and Remington, into their modern family. Through it all, Kelly has celebrated the amazing father her husband is. Need proof? Just listen to her hit song, "Piece by Piece" and try not to cry.

Adele + Simon Konecki

When Adele split with her longtime partner, Simon Konecki, the world waited expectantly for more details (and, of course, some divorce-fueled ballads from the songstress). While Adele has remained rather tight-lipped about the details of their split (which, to be clear, is totally her prerogative!), we do know one thing: The former couple has mastered the art of co-parenting.

Here's what we know, according to a statement from Adele's team: "Adele and her partner have separated. They are committed to raising their son together lovingly. As always they ask for privacy. There will be no further comment."

Simon has a child from a previous relationship, so we imagine working with a nontraditional family dynamic is nothing new to this couple.

Gwyneth Paltrow + Chris Martin

Leave it to the woman who invented a term for amicable breakups (conscious uncoupling, anyone?) to reinvent the rules for balancing a blended family.

Gwyneth and her ex-husband, Chris Martin, have nailed the art of staying close after a split, which is both impressive and super healthy for their children, Apple and Moses. Their setup works for this famous blended family. And Gwyneth's message for those who don't get it? "I don't care about the haters. Haters are irrelevant to me," she told The Sunday Times.

Martin and Paltrow are still very much a parenting team even though Paltrow has remarried. And she's doing that differently, too.

Gwyneth's secret to a successful marriage? Seperate homes. She famously admitted that she and husband, Brad Falchuk, don't live together full-time. And you know what? More power to them.

Drew Barrymore + Will Kopelman

As far as we're concerned, this viral photo of Drew Barrymore and her ex, Will Kopelman, defines "cute co-parenting moments." The exes came together to celebrate their daughter's graduation ceremony — it's certainly not the first sweet display of co-parenting skills from this duo, but it's easily one of our favorites.

"It's interesting, I saw this article the other day written about me—and I never see articles written about me—and it was like, 'My Modern Family.' And I was like, 'I like that; that has a nice ring to it," Drew said of their setup during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "I so wanted to raise kids in this ultra-traditional way and do everything so the polar opposite of my experience."

Jennifer Garner + Ben Affleck 

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck split up years ago, but they will always be family because they share three kids, 13-year-old Violet, 10-year-old Seraphina and 8-year-old Samuel.

In the years since their divorce Garner, Affleck and their kids have been spotted doing tons of regular stuff as a family, like going to church or spending special occasions together.

In a recent interview with Today, Affleck credited his ex with facilitating an awesome coparenting relationship, even when times were tough.

"I hope I'm a pretty good dad. I certainly try very hard. I'm lucky they got a great mom and she helps out a great deal with making sure we coparent in as good a way as possible," he said.

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

SHOP

Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

SHOP

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

SHOP

Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

SHOP

Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

SHOP

Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

SHOP

This article was sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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When kids enter puberty we warn them about the change. We tell them their bodies are changing and that it's normal and natural and they're beautiful just as they are. But when women become mothers and their bodies—and brains—change, we are not offered the same affirmations and comfort as adolescents. Society tells children to accept the ways their bodies stretch, grow and shift to carry them through adulthood, but it tells the women who carry these children in their own bodies to fight change at all costs.

Luckily, that is changing. Women are standing up and saying what society should have been telling us all along: Yes, motherhood changes your body, but that change is beautiful.

And now, in a brilliant move that is both excellent marketing and empowering, hundreds of women are putting their postpartum bodies on display. The act is a powerful statement to themselves and to other mothers: Our bodies are meant to evolve and change, and you are normal and natural and beautiful just as you are.

Knix is selling underwear, but the brand is also creating real change with a project called The Life After Birth Project, which saw 250 photos of real moms exhibited in an NYC gallery before rolling into Knix's hometown, Toronto, Canada, this week.

The photos are refreshingly real and exactly what women need to see in 2019.

The Life After Birth Project shows the beauty and reality of postpartum healing 

One of the most damaging myths about postpartum recovery is that it is quick. It isn't. It actually takes about six to eight weeks for the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. The bump doesn't instantly disappear because it took 9 months to grow. A mother's body needs time to heal after birth, whether it was a vaginal delivery or a C-section, but too many mothers aren't given that time.

In the United States, so many working moms are back at their job within five weeks of giving birth, and even if paid work isn't a factor, unpaid labor and family obligations can have mothers doing too much too soon.

As Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor and Birth Expert, has said, "You would never expect someone to clean their house a few days after having surgery, or to run errands when they are getting over the flu—so why do we expect ourselves to snap out of giving birth? Pregnancy and birth are not ailments, but they are the real deal. Be gentle on yourself, and allow your body to heal."

Mothers should not be embarrassed by their changing bodies 

A recent survey found more than a third of women (37%) felt embarrassed by what their body was going through after birth. This is not okay, and it is why we need more projects like the The Life After Birth Project and more companies doing what Knix is doing.

That is why celebrities like Jillian Harris, pictured above, stepped up and shared photos of their own postpartum experiences for the Life After Birth project.

Yes, Jillian is wearing mesh panties and a giant pad in the above photo. But that's part of the journey and nothing to be embarrassed about.

We need to see our stories represented and know that this is normal.

More photos from #LifeAfterBirth

Four pregnancies in four years. This mama has been through so much and has some serious advice: "I wish our always busy culture recognized it more and gave new mothers patience and grace."

So do we Amy, so do we.

See the gallery in person

The Life After Birth Project is currently in Toronto but the next stop is Los Angeles on October 24.

The gallery will keep touring the US, too.

Stops are planned in Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Denver, Minneapolis. if you want to submit your own photos, tag @lifeafterbirthproject on Instagram and use the hashtag #LifeAfterBirth, or email your photos to lifeafterbirth@knix.com.

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Getting kids back into a school year sleep routine is hard work. There were so many reasons for kids to stay up over the summer, like fireworks, campfires and the fact that the sun itself has been staying up so late.

Incrementally later bedtimes happen slowly over the summer, and at this time of year, parents are looking to reset the clock fast. But when you're six years old and you've spent the last couple months basically living a life of Saturdays, it might take some convincing to get you under the covers early.

Enter the Disney Bedtime Hotline. From September 16 to 30 parents in the United States and Canada can call 1-877-7-MICKEY at bedtime and a Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Star Wars character will tell your kids to go to bed.

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Mickey, Spider-Man, Yoda, Elsa, Princess Jasmine, Woody and other beloved characters are on the line, waiting to tell kids a little story before bed .

The Disney bedtime hotline may sound silly, but getting kids back into a bedtime routine (especially when they've grown used to staying up as late as the summer sun) is serious business.

According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, school-age kids need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night, and when summer ends, kids no longer have the option of sleeping in a bit on weekdays. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine goes even further, recommending between 9 and 12 hours of sleep for kids 6 to 12 years old. Kids 3 to 5 years old should sleep 10 to 13 hour (including naps).

"Among three to five-year-olds, lack of sleep is associated with memory consolidation and language development difficulties, and with a lesser quality of life," said Wendy Hall, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine panel that made those recommendations explained after their release.

"Children aged five to 12 years who get less than nine hours of sleep have significantly increased odds of obesity," Hall, a sleep specialist and nursing professor at the University of British Columbia continued.

"Sleep routines are critical for kids of all ages. Reading a book, telling a story, singing a song, or getting into a toothbrush routine help kids settle into sleep better," she explained. "Banning electronic devices from the bedroom also helps."

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a five-year-old who starts school at 8:00am (and needs an hour or so to get ready, eat and commute) should be going to bed at 8 or 9:00pm.

If your child's school starts early, or they have a long bus or car ride to get to school, you may have to call Mickey even earlier.

Thanks for the help, Disney.

[A version of this post was originally published August 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Legendary journalist Cokie Roberts died this week due to complications from breast cancer, NPR reports. She was 75 years old.

Roberts made a huge impact on America and will not be forgotten. The Emmy Award-winning broadcaster made her mark in journalism at a time when it was difficult for women to be taken seriously in the space. She was a pioneer who remembered the pioneering women who came before her.

As a historian and prolific writer who authored several bestselling works on the role of American women in U.S. history, including "Capital Dames," "Founding Mothers" and "Ladies of Liberty", Roberts was dedicated to reminding the public of the crucial role of American women in U.S. history.

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Back in 2015, Roberts talked to Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety about what modern mothers should know about the amazing women who preceded them.

This is what she wanted us to know.

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For most English, Australian or Canadian parents the cost of healthcare doesn't add any weight to the mental load of parenthood. But for Americans the cost of healthcare is top of mind all the time and it is weighing mothers down.

As Motherly previously reported, the cost of medical care in America means some mothers go into debt for giving birth and it was a hot topic on Twitter last week after Elizabeth Bruenig, an opinion writer at The Washington Post, tweeted a photo of her $8,000 birth bill.

Parents flooded Twitter with stories of shocking hospital bills, and politicians took notice of the viral moment, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retweeting Bruenig and Senator Bernie Sanders tweeting that the average cost of childbirth in the United States is $32,000, a number he hopes to reduce to zero with Medicare for All.

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Bruenig was happy to see politicians taking note of the stories flooding her mentions. "I think the response indicates that lots and lots of parents experience anxiety and stress over this particular set of costs. And I'm definitely heartened by the response from politicians like AOC and Bernie. I think hospital bills are some of the most politically interesting documents of our era, and I'm glad to see them getting attention as we debate how to fix our broken healthcare system," she explained in a statement to Motherly.

Over the weekend Sanders continued the online conversation by posing a question: "What's the most absurd medical bill you have ever received?"

Many of the stories in those replies were horrifying, and the stories of the financial costs associated with pregnancy and infant loss proves how there is no room for compassion in the current system, and how grieving parents are burdened by bills that take a toll not only on their bank accounts, but on their mental health.

The stories are similar to one shared recently by Business Insider's Dave Mosher. He tweeted the receipts for his family's both costs, which came in at more than $54,000, despite it being a healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated delivery, according to Mosher.

Dr. Jen Gunter, a social-media savvy OB-GYN who's been called "Twitter's resident gynecologist," replied to Sen. Sanders with her own personal story showing that even those who work within and understand the system can be blindsided by hospital bills—and that even a small bill can be devastating.

Years ago Gunter gave birth to three sons, triplets. It's a heartbreaking story Gunter has recalled on her blog, in her book and in a recent piece for the New York Times. Only two of her three boys lived. The oldest, Aiden, was born 24 days before his brothers, at a gestational age which his parents and medical team knew he could not survive.

"As Aidan's parents we had decided that invasive procedures, like intravenous lines and a breathing tube in a one-pound body, would be pointless medical care. And so, as we planned, Aidan died," Gunter wrote in the Times.

This weekend on Twitter Gunter explained what happened when she was finally discharged from the hospital after her traumatic births. "When I got home this $600 bill came for Aidan. It was addressed to "Parent of Aidan XXX"...and for a second I thought his death was a dream and I got very hopeful he was alive and then confused. And then very sad," she explained.

She continued: "I had sepsis and was just home maybe 3 days. My other two were in the NICU. I really thought for a moment he was alive. Sigh."

The $600 wasn't insurmountable, but it wasn't a fair amount as her son did not get medical care. Soon Gunter was on the phone, arguing with her own hospital with people who "didn't believe me that I let him die without medical care."

This was before Twitter, so she "wrote a very threatening e-mail to the hospital CEO" and threatened to go to the newspaper.

Aiden's brothers are in high school now, Twitter is a thing and their mom is an internet star. So much has changed in the years since his death, but sadly, the medical system that burdens and bankrupts Americans has not.

We are grateful to high-profile women like Bruenig and Gunter for sharing their birth bill stories. Birth should not bankrupt parents, and grieving parents should not be burdened by bills reminding them of their loss. New mothers have so much to think about, the cost of healthcare should not be one of them.

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