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Parents are spending time with their kids—and multitasking—more than ever before

This is worth celebrating: Today's parents spend more time with their children than in generations past. We're leaning into parenthood, loving the experience of raising children and taking pride in the roles of "Mom" or "Dad" often above all else.

But are we confusing quantity with quality—specifically when it comes to the "continuous partial attention" we offer when we're actually preoccupied by screens?

"We have yet to discover the outcome of a generation whose parents are constantly staring at screens, but I don't think I'm going out on a limb in saying the results are probably not so great," says Jasmin Terrany, licensed mental health counselor and the author of Extraordinary Mommy: A Loving Guide to Mastering Life's Most Important Job.

The good news is that solution isn't to ditch your phone or even to go without checking your messages during the daytime. Instead, experts tells Motherly we need to look at our desire to constantly multitask—and recognize that setting boundaries is good for us as well as our children.

Distracted parenting doesn’t go unnoticed by kids

Mounting research backs this up: According to a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, the "frequent" use of smartphones among parents undermines the relationships with their children. "The key message is that, as enticing and useful as they might be, smartphones can make spending time with your children feel less meaningful than it would otherwise be," the study's co-author Kostadin Kushlev of the University of Virginia told PsyPost.

Although Kushlev's study found smartphone distraction has less pronounced effects on the parental relationship during casual encounters at home than during family outings, being preoccupied with a screen at home has other consequences.

"Think of the stereotypical husband and wife having a conversation while a sports game is playing on TV. The husband's attention is split and the wife is frustrated because she doesn't sense that she's really being listened to," Ofra Obejas, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Motherly. "Same with parent and child… And the only 'power' the child has is to throw a tantrum."

Especially among young children who aren't yet capable of verbalizing their need for attention, the consequences can be dramatic: Researchers from Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child say "serve and return" parental interactions are foundational to brain development in young children. But if parents repeatedly fail to engage in this "conversational duet," psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek was clear to The Atlantic: "Toddlers cannot learn when we break the flow of conversations by picking up our cell phones or looking at the text that whizzes by our screens."

More research has shown that verbal responses alone aren't good enough, especially if the parent's body language sends a different message—as could be the case if you are "playing" with your kids while also engaged in a texting argument with your partner.

"Non-congruent body language actually causes anxiety and distress to children, even babies just a few months old," explains Urszula Klich, licensed clinical psychologist and president of the Southeast Biofeedback and Clinical Neuroscience Association. "Having congruent body language and positive messages helps to create a strong positive attachment to parents and later relationships as opposed to anxious ones."

What can we do to break out of “continuous partial parenting mode”?

Former Apple executive Linda Stone coined the term "continuous partial attention" in the mid-1990s to describe the way people were able to be tapped into anything at a moment's notice and how it came at the expense of full, undivided concentration.

In the two decades since, the problem has only deepened. But the ubiquity of phones, tablets and other screens shouldn't get all the blame. "The issue isn't the devices themselves, it's that they control us, we don't control them," says Terrany. "We are so often reacting and responding, rather than proactively setting limits—deciding when is phone time and when is family time."

But remember: It’s also healthy for kids to entertain themselves

Ironically, we have also grown uncomfortable with the notion that kids shouldn't have our attention 24/7. Boredom teaches them creativity, boosts their imaginations and improves their overall mental health. In other words: There's nothing wrong with encouraging your child to play solo while you respond to a call rather than trying to do both at once.

By doing that, we can begin to differentiate when our presence is actually needed. "I find that a simple question gets to the source of most issues, 'Do you want more attention right now?'" says Terrany. "If I can give more attention in those moments, I do. If I can't, I acknowledge and let them know when they will receive it."

As for the question of whether quality or quantity of time is more meaningful, Klich says the healthiest scenario is actually a balance of both. "Both often become a point of guilt for parents and sometimes the awareness that a parent is not engaging enough leads to attempts to spend more time," she says. "But, if we are not careful, that is distracted time."

The fact of the matter is there is a time and place for checking texts and social media just as there is a time for giving our kids undivided attention—and while many of today's parents are pros at multitasking, this is one area where we could all benefit from concentrating on one thing at a time.

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The bottle warmer has long been a point of contention for new mamas. Hotly debated as a must-have or superfluous baby registry choice, standard models generally leave new moms underwhelmed at best.

It was time for something better.

Meet the Algoflame Milk Warmer, a digital warming wand that heats beverages to the perfect temperature―at home and on the go. And like any modern mama's best friend, the Algoflame solves a number of problems you might not have even known you needed solved.

As with so many genius gadgets, this one is designed by two parents who saw a serious need. It's currently a Kickstarter raising money for production next year, but here are 10 unexpected ways this brilliant device lends a hand―and reasons why you should consider supporting its launch.

1. It's portable.

Every seasoned mama knows that mealtime can happen anywhere. And since you're unlikely to carry a clunky traditional milk warmer in your diaper bag, the Algoflame is your answer. The super-light design goes anywhere without weighing down your diaper bag.

2. It's battery operated.

No outlets necessary. Simply charge the built-in battery before heading out, and you're ready for whatever (and wherever) your schedule takes you. (Plus, when you contribute to the Kickstarter you can request an additional backup battery for those days when your errands take all.day.long.)

3. It's compact.

Even at home, traditional bottle warmers can be an eyesore on the countertop. Skip the bulky model for Algoflame's streamlined design. The warmer is about nine inches long and one inch wide, which means you can tuck it in a drawer out of sight when not in use.

4. It's waterproof.

No one likes taking apart bottle warmers to clean all the pieces. Algoflame's waterproof casing can be easily and quickly cleaned with dish soap and water―and then dried just as quickly so you're ready to use it again.

5. It has precise temperature control.

Your wrist is not a thermometer―why are you still using it to test your baby's milk temperature? Algoflame lets you control heating to the optimal temperature for breastmilk or formula to ensure your baby's food is safe.

6. It's fool-proof.

The LED display helps you know when the milk is ready, even in those bleary-eyed early morning hours. When the right temperature is reached, the wand's display glows green. Too hot, and it turns red (with a range of colors in between to help you determine how hot the liquid is). Now that's something even sleep-deprived parents can handle.

7. It's adaptable.

Sized to fit most bottles and cups on the market, you never have to worry about whether or not your bottles will fit into your warmer again.

8. It's multipurpose.

If you're a mom, chances are your cup of coffee is cold somewhere right now. The Algoflame has you covered, mama! Simply pop the wand into your mug to reheat your own beverage no matter where you are.

9. You can operate it with one hand.

From getting the milk warmer out to heating your baby's beverage, the entire wand is easy to activate with one hand―because you know you're holding a fussing baby in the other!

10. It's safe.

Besides being made from materials that comply with the FDA food contact safety standard, Algoflame boasts a double safety system thanks to its specially designed storage case. When put away in the case, the built-in magnetic safe lock turns the milk warmer to power-off protection mode so it won't activate accidentally. Additionally, the warmer's "idle-free design" prevents the heater from being accidentally activated out of the case.

To get involved and help bring the Algoflame Milk Warmer to new mamas everywhere, support the brand's Kickstarter campaign here.

This article is sponsored by Algoflame Milk Warmer. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

If you thought the arrival of your baby meant the end of fun, urban vacations, think again. With the right planning (and the right equipment), it's still possible to get up and go with your little ones on every adventure. That's why we love BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One, a soft, supportive baby carrier that's as comfortable for your baby as it is on your back.

And New York City is one of our favorite places to take it for a ride.

We partnered with NYC mama Neha Leela Ruch of MotherUntitled to share her favorite Big Apple hot spots for littles. If you and your family are headed East on your next vacation, here are the places you can't miss with kids.

DO

Neha with her family at the Union Square Greenmarket.

The Union Square Greenmarket

You'll love the ready availability of locally grown produce and handmade goods―your kids will love sampling the wares and taking advantage of all the conveniently located activities nearby. "I love the efficiency of the location on a slow morning!" Ruch says. After shopping, hit up the nearby playground, visit the Barnes and Noble kids' area across the street, or head to Union Square Play for a movement or dance class to burn off any remaining energy.

LeFrak Center at Lakeside

Another attraction worth the subway ride out of Manhattan is the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park. With year-round skating (ice in winter, roller in summer), a splash pad in the summer, and all of Prospect Park surrounding for more exploration, there's something to keep everyone entertained no matter when you visit.

The Seaglass Carousel
Have your camera ready for this stunning ride in the Battery Conservancy. Unlike a traditional carousel, the Seaglass moves riders on four turntables as LED light fixtures mimic the bioluminescence found under the sea. Take a ride before taking in the waterside views or having a picnic in Battery Park.

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Neha out and about in NYC with her BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One.

Domino Park

One of the newest parks in NYC, this Brooklyn-based hangout is sure to become a fast favorite of locals and travelers alike. The reclaimed-material playground teaches kids about the sugar refining process with silos and chutes designed to resemble the actual factory that used to reside on the park's location. There's also a Fog Bridge, sports fields, fountains, a dog park (in case Rover is along for the trip!), and more you can walk and explore with your little one in their BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One.

Central Park + Central Park Zoo

While there are plenty of reasons to visit Central Park on your New York City vacation, the convenience might be one of the biggest. Ruch says, "We grab coffee and treats from the Tavern on the Green to-go stand, walk east to the pretty carousel, and then onward to the zoo, which has a little kids' petting section for the smallest babies but also a pretty significant proper zoo with penguins, seals and bears."

Allbee Baby

With a nearly 100 year old story, this family operated business on New York's Upper West Side is the place to stop if you need something mid-trip. With a thoughtful curation of the best brands, it's full of solutions for parents and kids (as well as a selection of products from BabyBjörn)!

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Maman Café

Need a quick pick-me-up? Maman Cafe is a popular spot for your favorite coffee and a snack. "There are a handful of locations around the city, but each has a pretty feel while still being warm and welcoming," Ruch says. "It's an elegant part of the day even when I have two littles in tow." Snag an iced coffee and an almond croissant before popping your baby back in their BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One and heading off on your next adventure.

by CHLOE.

And when that moment comes in the midst of every trip where you realize everyone needs to eat something nutritious, by CHLOE is a great stop to find healthy options to satisfy everyone in the family. Vegan, plant-based, and all natural, it will keep you energized for the rest of your adventures in the City That Never Sleeps. (Make sure to try the avocado toast!)


Making the time to explore is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family―and yourself. And thanks to BabyBjörn, now everyone can come along for the ride.

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

Christmas is so fun and magical, but if we don't keep ourselves in check it can get really overwhelming.

Sandra Bullock is the latest high-profile mom to talk about toning down presents to make more room for what matters in her family's Christmas celebration.

Mom to Louis, 8, and Laila, 6, Bullock was on the Today show this week when she explained how over the years her Christmas celebrations snowballed until she felt like her family was missing the point.

"I overdo it, and then I panic that I didn't do enough. Then I get more—and then everyone else has overdone it," she explained, adding that this year, she just stopped overdoing it, and she's feeling a lot less stressed this Christmas season.

"We just stopped. Because there's so much happening in the world where people don't have anything. And we said, 'Why don't we just make this about other people?'" Bullock explained, adding that her kids were totally into the idea of giving instead of getting this year.

"They were amazing about it. So, Christmas is three small gifts," she told Today's Hoda Kotb.

Why three is the magic number of presents 

Bullock is hardly alone in toning down Christmas. Tons of parents are simplifying the holiday in order to focus on the more meaningful parts, in part because (as Motherly previously reported) giving your kids fewer toys at Christmas actually makes them happier!

Combine increased happiness with the modern desire for less cluttered, minimalist living and you have a trend. In fact, even the number of gifts Bullock is doing this season is trendy. Three gift Christmases are a thing.

Three is kind of a magic number when it comes to Christmas celebrations. There are enough presents to make the morning feel magical, but not so many that the kids are lost in a mountain of wrapping paper and materialism.

With three gifts, kids have an opportunity to feel gratitude instead of overwhelmed. They can truly appreciate their presents and parents can feel less overwhelmed as well, because it's way easier (and cheaper) to buy three presents than try to bring the whole toy aisle home.

Making Christmas about giving 

Research demonstrates that children whose parents talk to them about giving to others are 20% more likely to make charitable donations than kids whose parents did not have that talk. Simply by talking to Louis and Laila about giving to others, Bullock is building capacity for giving in her kids, and in this case, talking does more than modeling, researchers note.

Bullock has the resources to give both a huge charitable contribution and a massive Christmas to her own kids, but both society and her kids are probably better off with her new Christmas plan.

A 2013 study, a 2013 study conducted by the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that just having a parent who gives their money and time to charity isn't as impactful as having a parent who talks to you about why it's important to do so.

By having the conversation about making Christmas about others, Bullock is instilling her values in her kids in a lasting way.

Helping kids give 

Bullock didn't go into detail about exactly how she's helping her kids make Christmas about others, but there are a lot of ways that parents can do that.

You can help your children choose or make gifts for other important people in their lives, like grandparents, teachers and friends.

You can ask your children to help you choose toys to give to charities that help families who can't afford to buy their kids gifts this year.

You can take your kids with you to volunteer at an organization that's doing good in the world.

You can involve your kids in making a monetary donation to a worthy cause.

The important part is doing it together, and having conversations about why giving is so much more important and impactful than getting.

We're all trying to raise empathetic kids and keep our houses free of clutter, and it sounds like Bullock's plan could help with both those goals.

If you're feeling overwhelmed and like you've been overdoing the holidays, consider taking a tip from Bullock and giving yourself permission to just stop.

Christmas doesn't have to be overwhelming to be magical.

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We all want our homes to be safe for our kids, but for years corded window blinds have been a hidden hazard in many American homes, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

That era is now over because as of this month, corded window blinds are no longer being sold by American stores or websites.

👏👏👏

Child safety advocates are cheering the decision by the Window Covering Manufacturers Association to require stock window coverings to be cordless or designed with inaccessible or short cords.

A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics found that 255 children died after getting tangled up in blind cords between 1990 and 2015, more than 16,800 kids were injured and seen in emergency rooms.

"We've known about this risk for over 70 years, yet we're still seeing children strangled by these products," study senior researcher Dr. Gary Smith told HealthDay last December. "It's just unacceptable."

A year ago, Smith said it was totally doable for manufacturers to reduce the risks associated with corded blinds, and now, finally, they have.

Now, people who need corded blinds (like those with disabilities who find corded blinds easier to use) will still be able to get them as custom orders, but you won't find them on the shelves at your local home improvement store.

Up until now, one child per month (on average) is dying because of window blind cords. It may have taken 70 years, but we're so glad to see this change!

Removing window blinds with cords

Some parents aren't aware that window blind cords can be hazardous. If you have corded blinds in your home and are now wanting to replace them, look for replacement blinds that have the "Best for Kids" certification label on the packaging.

If replacing all the blinds in your house is too costly right now, experts recommend starting with the rooms where your child hangs out the most, like their bedroom and the living room.

If you're renting, replacing blinds can be a bit trickier, as some leases prevent tenants from changing the blinds.

Talk to your landlord about the safety hazard (put it in writing and note the study in Pediatrics and the new regulations from the Window Covering Manufacturers Association). Alternatively, if your blinds are the snap-in kind, you can remove the landlord's blinds and store them somewhere safe while using your own, safer, window coverings for the rest of your tenancy.

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It impacts 15 to 20% of pregnant and postpartum mothers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), but depression too often goes untreated because it can be so hard for the mothers who are suffering to ask for help.

Untreated depression can rob new moms of the joy of pregnancy and those early days of parenthood, but new guidelines from the AAP could see moms getting help sooner.

This week the AAP released a new policy statement urging pediatricians to "incorporate recognition and management of perinatal depression into pediatric practice" because research suggests about 50% of moms who are depressed during and after pregnancy now are going undiagnosed.

A mother may not be a pediatrician's patient, but if a pediatrician notices that a mom seems to be struggling, helping her is obviously helping the baby, too.

Dr. Marian Earls, the lead author of the report, explains in an AAP media release: "When we are able to help a mother deal with her mental health, we are essentially reaching the whole family."

Earls' colleague, Dr. Jason Rafferty, says the idea is that by helping moms, pediatricians are proactively caring for the child's health, too.

"We know that postpartum depression can be a form of toxic stress that can affect an infant's brain development and cause problems with family relationships, breastfeeding and the child's medical treatment," he explains.

Prenatal depression impacts way more mothers than people realize, as Motherly previously reported. It's estimated more than 400,000 babies are born to depressed mothers each year. In addition, about one in nine new moms in America experience postpartum depression symptoms, according to the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As Licensed Master Social Worker Erin Barbossa previously told Motherly, too many mothers have been going undiagnosed or untreated for too long.

"From my perspective, unfortunately, our medical system really lacks putting the mental health lens on unless symptoms are really severe," she explained. "We tend to focus on the physical symptoms related to the health of the baby, and if all of those check out, all is good enough."

The AAP's new guidelines seek to change that, by suggesting mothers get screened for depression once during pregnancy and then again during the baby's appointments at 1, 2, 4 and 6 months old.

The doctors behind the report say more work needs to be done to support parents suffering from depression and in reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, but screening new mothers is a step in the right direction, and could change the lives of entire families.

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She's an A-list actress who wrote a book about healthy habits and spent so much time in workout clothes that it became a business, but these days, Kate Hudson is also a new mom who is two months postpartum and trying to develop new healthy habits while simultaneously caring for a newborn going back to work.

It is a lot to balance, but Hudson now going to be getting a lot of help from Weight Watchers after announcing she's the new brand's latest ambassador. Hudson and the brand are both going through a bit of a transformation at the moment. Hudson is trying to lose 25 pounds for a film role, and Weight Watchers is rebranding as WW, with less of a focus on weight loss and more on healthy habits that can lead to weight loss but have other benefits too.

Hudson's big reveal about the new gig came in the form of a FaceTime call with Oprah, who has, of course, repped the brand for years.

"Health and wellness is my number one and I always say that what works for me doesn't work for everyone," Hudson captioned a recording of the FaceTime call.

"I believe that we need to celebrate diversity in how each individual wants to celebrate their bodies. We aren't all going to enjoy the same work outs, outdoor activities, foods etc. I've become an Ambassador for the WW family because it is the perfect community for people to live healthy their own way and I love sharing this knowledge with you all! This is not a community for people who just want to lose weight, although leading a healthy lifestyle lends itself to such, this is a community about supporting each other through a life long journey of wellness."

The message WW and Hudson are promoting (that health and self-care, not weight loss, should be the number one goal) is an important one, and one we're happy to see celebrities and companies embracing.

The era of headlines about celebrities "bouncing back" after pregnancy is behind us, and it's refreshing to see Hudson admitting that a mother's body doesn't change overnight after she gives birth.

For Hudson, whose career depends on her looking good on movie screens and in leggings, the goal of losing 25 pounds makes sense. It's literally her job. For the rest of us, weight loss may not be the goal, but sometimes it is a nice side effect of taking care of ourselves.

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