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Real talk with Jessica Alba: Bedtime might be the most challenging part of having 3 kids

She also opens up about the perks of her kids' age gap and what she and husband Cash Warren do to help each child feel special.

Real talk with Jessica Alba: Bedtime might be the most challenging part of having 3 kids

When your youngest is almost seven, bringing home a new baby definitely shakes things up. Suddenly you're not only dealing with backpacks and after school schedules, but bottles and sleepless nights, too.

Mom of three Jessica Alba has both school age children and a baby at home these days, and she tells Motherly the decision to add a third child to the family changed her family's dynamics in ways that are sometimes challenging, but mostly amazing.

"We didn't plan the first two, they were more surprise and delight. The third one was the only one where we were actually like 'let's do this'," says the 37-year-old actress and Honest Company founder, who shares her three children, 10-year-old Honor, Haven (who will be 7 this month) and baby Hayes with her husband of 10 years, Cash Warren.

"We just love having a family, we love our kids, and we felt like if we wanted to have one more, I was getting to an age where I was like, 'We're either doing this now or we're not going to do it,'" she tells Motherly, adding that experiencing motherhood for the third time has been a beautiful journey not just for her and Warren, but their daughters, too.

"It's actually been really neat because he's brought us all together in a really sweet way. We all like gush over him as a family a lot," Alba explains.

The girls spend a lot of time loving on their baby brother, but at their ages they've also got a lot going on outside the family, which is why Alba says the age gap worked out so nicely. "You know, when they're kids and they're like 7 and 10 they're pretty independent and they have sleepovers and they do their own thing, so it's nice to have a little baby that needs us," she says.

Adding a third child to the mix obviously means that Alba and Warren's time is even more precious these days than it was before Hayes' arrival, and the couple has taken steps to make sure that each of their daughters gets a share of each parent's time.

"Since we've had him Cash and I have made it a point to spend more one on one time with the girls, so I'll take one and he'll take one for an afternoon and we'll do a little lunch or go on a hike or have a picnic," Alba tells Motherly. "Basically our daughter, whichever one we have, they get to choose whatever they want and they have our undivided attention for that three hours. It's been really special bonding time. We don't do it every weekend but we try to do it at least once a month. And that's been something the kids have really looked forward to and really liked."

Special time with mom and dad is the antidote to a busy bedtime routine, which Alba says has been the most challenging part of moving from two kids to three. "The baby, I cuddle him to sleep and then each girl wants to be cuddled to go to sleep and then they get jealous if I spend more time with one than the other one, and then they need water always, and then they need more water," she explains, "It's just like this endless cycle nightly."

Some things (like dealing with the unquenchable thirst that so often affects children only at bedtime) don't get any easier the more kids you have, but other parts of parenting—like figuring out how to balance work schedules and baby schedules—have become a little easier for Alba over the years.

She recalls that when the girls were babies she would just bring them to set with her when she was on acting jobs and they would hang in the trailer. The Honest Company was just getting going when her younger daughter, Haven, was a baby, so she joined Alba there, too. Now, it's Hayes' turn to be the office baby at the Honest Company.

"I just cart them along and bring them along with me. It's kind of my way of doing it. I don't know if it's the right way, but it's kind of how I figured it out to try and get those moments in and still feel like I have a presence in their lives," she explains. "I get to bring him to work, and I have in my office a little playmat and a Pack N' Play. He can nap here, and we have a portable high chair."

Owning your own baby-centric company certainly has its perks, not the least of which is having access to all your own products. The Honest Company is just launching a new, more absorbent diaper with new fall prints, and of course Hayes was the first baby to rock them.

"I have been trying the diapers really since Hayes was born because we had them," says Alba, who says that, like her kids, the company has really grown over the last six years and the experience is noticeable in the new diaper designs. "They're awesome, when it comes to the softness you can really feel the difference."

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My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

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

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