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If you find yourself constantly struggling to keep on top of the housework, then perhaps it’s time to simply let go. Follow this guide written by a stay-at-home dad, and you will be well on your way to creating a chaotic and messy house that will be the envy of all your friends (kids).


1 | Look at your team.

Assess everyone’s role and then understand that you are not the boss. Your child is the boss. You will be answerable to them during working hours and then they will report your performance to the boss of bosses when he or she arrives home from work. Do not let this worry you. By relinquishing the need for total control you are allowing yourself to relax a little. When rules are relaxed the possibilities for creative mess-making increase exponentially.

2 | Don’t think that this will be an easy ride.

To create a truly chaotic and messy living space takes effort. You will need to ensure that your kids are okay with what is about to happen and that they are fully on board. Tip: If you can get your partner to sign up to the experience then you will have a much easier time doing your work. However, in the more than likely event that your partner is not going to be as committed to this as you are, it may be best to keep your plans to just you and your team at this stage. Your partner will find out soon enough.

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3 | Prepare mentally for the reaction of your other half when they first witness the chaos that has been unleashed on the household.

Tip: Phrases such as, “I know it’s messy darling, but the kids are having so much fun,” and “What would you rather, I spend all day cleaning and tidying while (insert name) stares at a screen, or that the kids have a really happy memorable childhood?” can be stored for later use and brought out whenever there is a look of bewildered disappointment on your partner’s face.

4 | Embrace mess.

“Children are messy, I can be messy, mess is not all that bad.” Repeat this mantra and your acceptance will lead to less stress – until your partner arrives home, (refer to tips at end of point 3 if need be).

5 | Resist getting riled.

At times the mess may become too much even for your high mess-threshold to handle.When you have had enough or need a time-out, keep calm. Shouting leads to sore throats, and children who remember you shouting. Develop a stare instead. Try raising both eyebrows whilst lowering your chin and staring at your child. If you catch your reflection whilst doing this, there is a strong possibility that you may laugh. Laughter is good, it will help you to realize that things aren’t as bad as they might seem and it will allow you to continue on your quest. Save the shouting for wild daytime parties.

6 | Have wild daytime parties.

Shut the curtains, crank up the stereo, and put on the disco lights. There is no better time to practice your moves than when you are a looking after the kids. Parties with your children really help to trash the venue. Cushions can be thrown, settees moved aside, outfits can be worn, old outfits can be left on the floor. Make sure snacks are involved, and if you can get some, pull the strings on as many party poppers as you can.

Tip: Remember to get the kids involved. As tempting as it is to do this one alone, it never looks good when your partner walks in and catches you doing the Locomotion whilst wearing an animal tail and a tiara. Kids provide the perfect excuse. Teach them how to strut their stuff and they, too, will be able to one day embarrass themselves on the dance floor.

7 | Get the kids involved in making dinner.

There’s no better way to make a mess in the kitchen than allowing your children to handle ingredients such as flour, eggs, couscous, and milk. Yes, the end result may not be Michelin star restaurant quality, and in fact it may be pretty bad, but your kids will love creating their culinary masterpieces.

Make sure that your kids practice good hygiene and wash their hands before starting on this one, however washing hands afterwards is entirely optional. Tip: Whilst sampling anything that has been made, use the stare developed in stage 5 above but nod your head and at the same time cover your mouth. With practice you will be able to use this to convey approval and simultaneously deposit chewed-up bits of food-like substances into your hand.

8 | Serve food in various locations throughout the house and allow your children to eat snacks that crumble whilst moving around.

Tip: Hide or disguise the trash can so that your children have the perfect excuse to discard wrappers and bits of leftover food wherever they like. If you take an artistic view and see your house as a collage that is made up of all the bits of stuff that aren’t where they are supposed to be, then you will be much happier and can be seen as positively encouraging creativity in your children.

9 | Invite your kid’s friends over to join in – the more the messier.

If you think your kids are messy, wait until you get more of them involved. You will truly experience mess on a whole new level. Other people’s children will love the carefully deconstructed environment that you have created. They will relish the chance to play without the conventional restraints normally placed upon their innate messy instincts.

Once they realize that you’re okay with them joining in, they will not only add to your mess, but also create a screaming, fast-moving, energetic form of chaos. Make sure, too, that junk food is the fuel of choice throughout the session, and your house will have never looked so rearranged.

Tip: If things are getting a bit too hectic and you need to restore some calm, then introduce a craft activity such as painting. If you have glitter available, now is a good time to get it out. On the other hand, if things are getting a bit too calm, then a good-natured water fight can really liven things up.

10 | If the house has become too messy and chaotic, move outside and get to work trashing the garden.

Things in the house will have a way of sorting themselves out eventually and tidiness will return, (or perhaps it’s your partner’s return that causes the tidiness to return. Who knows?). Regardless, the outdoors is always a great place to be. Whatever the weather, remember the wisdom of Alfred Wainwright: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

Of course this assumes that you can find your clothing under the pile of washing that you have been meaning to get around to. Tip: To avoid creating a large pile of laundry, allow your children to just discard items of clothing all over the floor in the location that they are standing when they remove it. You will never have to look at another washing pile again as your laundry will now be nicely spread throughout the house.

11 | Apply the, ‘Don’t do today anything that can wait until tomorrow,’ rule to tidying up at the end of the night.

You’ve had a hard day. Of course it was fun, but you’ve put 100% of your time into ensuring that your kids grow up with happy memories. You make it seem effortless but it does require some effort. You need some time for yourself now.

Pick up the guitar, catch up on a box set, do something mind-numbing. Any tidying up can wait until tomorrow, unless of course you spend tomorrow creating as much chaos as today. Tip: The true pro gets the kids involved in the tidying, although results can vary. Expect random items placed in random places and furniture cleaned with paint applied by scouring sponges.

12 | Remind yourself regularly to enjoy your time.

This part of your life is a privilege and not just something to get on with. One day you will get back the tidy, uncluttered, clean house that you once had, and if you have served your time well, then you will really miss the chaotic mess that you and the team had so much fun creating.

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As mamas, we naturally become the magic-makers for our families. We sing the songs that make the waits seem shorter, dispense the kisses that help boo-boos hurt less, carry the seemingly bottomless bags of treasures, and find ways to turn even the most hum-drum days into something memorable.

Sometimes it's on a family vacation or when exploring a new locale, but often it's in our own backyards or living rooms. Here are 12 ways to create magical moments with kids no matter where your adventures take you.


1. Keep it simple

Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but―trust us―your most magical memories don't require perfection. Spend the morning building blanket forts or break out the cookie cutters to serve their sandwich in a fun shape and you'll quickly learn that, for kids, the most magical moments are often the simplest.

2. Get on their level

Sometimes creating a memorable moment can be as easy as getting down on the floor and playing with your children. So don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees, to swing from the monkey bars, or turn watching your favorite movie into an ultimate snuggle sesh.

3. Reimagine the ordinary

As Mary says, "the cover is not the book." Teach your child to see the world beyond initial impressions by encouraging them to imagine a whole new world as you play―a world where the laundry basket can be a pirate ship or a pile of blankets can be a castle.

4. Get a little messy

Stomp in muddy puddles. Break out the finger paint. Bake a cake and don't worry about frosting drips on the counter. The messes will wait, mama. For now, let your children―and yourself―live in these moments that will all too soon become favorite memories.

5. Throw out the plan

The best-laid plans...are rarely the most exciting. And often the most magical moments happen by accident. So let go of the plan, embrace the unexpected, and remember that your child doesn't care if the day goes according to the schedule.

6. Take it outside

There's never a wrong time of year to make magic outside. Take a stroll through a spring rainstorm, catch the first winter snowflakes on your tongue, or camp out under a meteor shower this summer. Mother Nature is a natural at creating experiences you'll both remember forever.

7. Share your childhood memories

Chances are if you found it magical as a child, then your kids will too. Introduce your favorite books and movies (pro tip: Plan a double feature with an original like Mary Poppins followed with the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns!) or book a trip to your favorite family vacation spot from the past. You could even try to recreate photos from your old childhood with your kids so you can hang on to the memory forever.

8. Just add music

Even when you're doing something as humdrum as prepping dinner or tidying up the living room, a little music has a way of upping the fun factor. Tell Alexa to cue up your favorite station for a spontaneous family dance party or use your child's favorite movie soundtrack for a quick game of "Clean and Freeze" to pick up toys at the end of the day.

9. Say "yes"

Sometimes it can feel like you're constantly telling your child "no." While it's not possible to grant every request (sorry, kiddo, still can't let you drive the car!), plan a "yes" day for a little extra magic. That means every (reasonable) request gets an affirmative response for 24 hours. Trust us―they'll never forget it.

10. Let them take the lead

A day planned by your kid―can you imagine that? Instead of trying to plan what you think will lead to the best memories, put your kid in the driver's seat by letting them make the itinerary. If you have more than one child, break up the planning so one gets to pick the activity while the other chooses your lunch menu. You just might end up with a day you never expected.

11. Ask more questions

Odds are, your child might not remember every activity you plan―but they will remember the moments you made them feel special. By focusing the conversation on your little one―their likes, dislikes, goals, or even just craziest dreams―you teach them that their perspective matters and that you are their biggest fan.

12. Turn a bad day around

Not every magical moment will start from something good. But the days where things don't go to plan can often turn out to be the greatest memories, especially when you find a way to turn even a negative experience into a positive memory. So don't get discouraged if you wake up to rain clouds on your beach day or drop the eggs on the floor before breakfast―take a cue from Mary Poppins and find a way to turn the whole day a little "turtle."

Mary Poppins Returns available now on Digital & out on Blue-ray March 19! Let the magic begin in your house with a night where everything is possible—even the impossible ✨

My husband and I recently had a date night that included being away from our son overnight for the first time since he was born three years ago (but don't let your heads run away with a fantasy—we literally slept because we were exhausted #thisiswhatwecallfunnow). It was a combination of a late night work event, a feeling that we had to do something just for the two of us, and simple convenience. It would have taken hours to get home from the end of a very long day when we could just check into a hotel overnight and get home early the next day.

But before that night, I fretted about what to do. How would childcare work? No one besides me or my husband has put our son to bed, and we have never not been there when he wakes up in the morning.

Enter: Grandma.

I knew if there was any chance of this being successful, the only person that could pull it off is one of my son's favorite people—his grandmother. Grammy cakes. Gramma. We rely so much on these extended support systems to give us comfort and confidence as parents and put our kids at ease. Technically, we could parent without their support, but I'm so glad we don't have to.

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So as we walked out the door, leaving Grandma with my son for one night, I realized how lucky we are that she gets it...

She gets it because she always comes bearing delicious snacks. And usually a small toy or crayons in her bag for just the right moment when it's needed.

She gets it because she comes with all of the warmth and love of his parents but none of the baggage. None of the first time parent jitters and all of the understanding that most kids just have simple needs: to eat, play and sleep.

She gets it because she understands what I need too. The reassurance that my baby will be safe. And cared for.

She gets it because she's been in my shoes before. Decades ago, she was a nervous new mama too and felt the same worries. She's been exactly where we are.

She gets it because she shoos us away as we nervously say goodbye, calling out cheerfully, "Have fun, I've got this." And I know that she does.

She gets it because she will get down on the floor with him to play Legos—even though sometimes it's a little difficult to get back up.

She gets it because she will fumble around with our AppleTV—so different from her remote at home—to find him just the right video on Youtube that he's looking for.

She gets it because she diligently takes notes when we go through the multi-step bedtime routine that we've elaborately concocted, passing no judgment, and promising that she'll follow along as best as she can.

She gets it because she'll break the routine and lay next to him in bed when my son gets upset, singing softly in his ear until she sees his eyelids droop heavy and finally fall asleep.

She gets it because she'll text us to let us know when he's fallen asleep because she knows we'll be wondering.

She gets it because just like our son trusts us as his mom and dad, Grandma is his safe space. My son feels at ease with her—and that relaxes me, too.

She gets it because when we come home from our "big night out" the house will be clean. Our toddler's play table that always has some sort of sticky jelly residue on it will be spotless. The dishwasher empty. (Side note: She is my hero.)

She gets it because she shows up whenever we ask. Even when it means having to rearrange her schedule. Even when it means she has to sleep in our home instead of her own.

She gets it because even though she has her own life, she makes sure to be as involved in ours as she can. But that doesn't mean she gives unsolicited advice. It means that she's there. She comes to us or lets us come to her. Whenever we need her.

She gets it because she takes care of us, too. She's there to chat with at the end of a long day. To commiserate on how hard motherhood and working and life can be, but to also gently remind me, "These are the best days."

After every time Grandma comes over, she always leaves a family that feels so content. Fulfilled by her presence. The caretaking and nourishment (mental and food-wise) and warmth that accompanies her.

We know this is a privilege. We know we're beyond lucky that she is present and wants to be involved and gets it. We know that sometimes life doesn't work out like this and sometimes Grandma lives far away or is no longer here, or just doesn't get it. So we hold on. And appreciate every moment.

As Grandma leaves, I hug her tight and tell her, "I can't thank you enough. We couldn't have done this without you." Because we can't. And we wouldn't want to.

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My husband and I found out that our daughter Penny had Down Syndrome two hours after she was born, and we shared the same instinct. We wanted to run away. Within minutes, I had the route planned out from the hospital room to my grandparents' summer cottage, three hours north, at the end of a secluded dirt road that would be abandoned in the wintertime. No matter that the cottage had no insulation against the December cold. It represented a familiar and safe place that would take me far away from everyone else, and I wanted to get there as quickly as possible.

For years, the memory of that desire haunted me, until I finally realized that every time I had envisioned our escape, I envisioned us as a new family of three. In other words, I wanted, desperately, to run away from the doctors who were predicting a life of difficulty and hardship, from the nurses who I imagined whispering about our situation, and even from friends and family who, I suspected, just wouldn't know what to say or how to think about us as anymore. I didn't want to run away from Penny. I wanted to run away from everyone else.

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And I wanted to run away from the future. I was scared of the labels that had all of a sudden been added to our family. I was scared of therapy and specialists and perhaps most of all, special education. I was scared that Penny wouldn't learn, wouldn't make friends, that school would be a source of stress rather than a community in which she could flourish.

We didn't run away. Looking back on it, there were some reasons to fear. People still use words about kids with disabilities as jokes and slurs. In Penny's short lifetime, that list includes everyone from high government officials to TIME magazine to high school kids walking past me on the street. And plenty of people still see Down syndrome as a source of suffering or assume that Penny's life will be impoverished as a result of her extra chromosome.

But I've also found a host of people who want to see Penny succeed, and if there is any place that she has been accepted and supported it has been at school.

It is six and a half years later, and we just moved to a new town. A few days back, Penny and I visited her new school. She stuck out her hand to introduce herself to the women who work in the front office. We noted the fresh green and blue paint on the walls. And we met Penny's two teachers, one of whom has training specifically to support students with special needs. If first grade is anything like kindergarten, Penny will thrive. She will make friends and read chapter books out loud and squirm her way through art class and yearn to grow tall enough and strong enough to do the monkey bars all by herself.

Forty years ago, Penny might have been denied access to a free public education. Forty years ago, we might have been advised to institutionalize her upon birth. But in recent years, parents, teachers, and legislators have worked to ensure a place for kids like Penny in our nation's classrooms. It isn't always easy or pretty. Plenty of kids still suffer the injustice of unequal resources, abusive classroom aides, the social ostracism that can come from peers and teachers as a result of their disabilities. But the doors are open to them, at least in legal terms. And countless families can attest to the value of including kids with special needs in our classrooms, both for the kids themselves and for their peers.

This morning, our whole family walked down our new street to wait for the bus. We stood alongside four other kids from our neighborhood, and when the bus finally arrived, Penny raced to board it, hand in hand with a third-grader who volunteered to be her buddy.

Six years ago, I wanted to run away with my little girl bundled up in her receiving blanket to keep her protected from the world of Individualized Education Plans and reading assessments and behavioral modifications. Today, with gratitude, I watched my little girl run away from me.

Originally posted on HuffPost.

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Keeping up with a skin care routine isn't as simple as it seems when you're a busy mama. When you're trying to bathe kids and get them to bed, or rushing out the door in the morning, the last thing on your to-do list is using a serum. Plus, figuring out which masks work for your skin type, or what is *really* worth that hefty price tag seems overwhelming.

Until now.

Amazon launched its first-ever skin care line in collaboration with New York City-based dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali called Belei. The launch features 12 products that can complete your skin care routine, from moisturizers and serums to cleansers and masks.

Our favorite features? (Aside from the fact that you can Prime these goodies straight to your door).

  • Clean—free of sulfates, parabens and phthalates
  • Affordable—everything is under $40
  • Dermatologist tested + not tested on animals
  • Offers satisfaction guarantee—if not satisfied, they'll refund within a year

Right now, each product has a 25% off coupon so it's the perfect time to try it out. Here are some we're adding to our cart:

1. Tripe-Peptide Eye Cream

Amazon skin care line eye cream

For those inevitable nights with little sleep. Complete with caffeine to reduce puffiness and ingredients like shea butter to minimize the appearance of fine lines and dark circles.

Buy at Amazon, $22.00

2. Charcoal Balancing Mask

Amazon skin care line charcoal mask

Have five extra minutes? Lather this on to absorb excess oil, deep clean, and balance your skin.

Buy at Amazon, $18.00

3. Retinol Refining Moisturizer

Amazon skin care line retinol moisturizer

Retinol has so many benefits, from smoothing your skin to helping it retain moisture, but it's often come with a price—not this one.

Buy at Amazon, $35.00

4. Blemish Control Spot Treatment

Amazon skin care line spot treatment

You can always stop breakouts from happening, but you can fight blemishes with this.

Buy at Amazon, $22.00

5. Dark Spot Solution

Amazon skin care line dark spot solution

Your body has gone through a lot and that usually means your hormones have fluctuated. For some, that causes dark spots or uneven skin tone. This is packed with rich ingredients to even everything out.

Buy at Amazon, $22.00

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Carrie Underwood and her husband, hockey player Mike Fisher, just welcomed their second child, little Jacob Bryan Fisher back in January, but as the face of a fitness apparel line, CALIA by Carrie Underwood, this mom of two is feeling a lot of pressure to get back in shape.

But she's recognizing that a lot of the pressure is coming from within herself, and so she's giving herself grace and time in her postpartum fitness journey, as it hasn't been as easy to meet her fitness goals as it was after her first pregnancy.

"As I was working out today, I realized that for the past 11(ish) months, my body has not belonged to me. It was a perfect home for Jacob. And even now it belongs to him every time he drinks his milk," she wrote in a recent Instagram post.

"I promise to stop analyzing every angle and every curve and every pound and every meal. I'm going to keep staying the path because it is a journey and as long as I'm always working towards my goals, one day I'll reach them. I'm going to take it day by day, smile at the girl in the mirror, and work out—because I love this body and all it has done and will continue to do!"

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Her words are inspiring, and so is her track record as a mom who cares about fitness, but cares about connecting with her family even more.

Back in 2018, before Jacob was in the picture, Underwood posted pics of her oldest, then 2-year-old Isaiah on Instagram, trying to work out with mom and dad. He uses a resistance band with his mom and tries push-ups with his dad, hockey player Mike Fisher. "My boys make workouts fun (and a bit less productive, but that's ok)! #staythepath" she wrote in her post.

It's totally okay to want to get back in shape after having a baby, but it's not okay to beat yourself up for being human. Pregnancy and birth transform a woman's body, and we cannot expect ourselves to run as fast as we did before or fit into our old jeans right away.

As Tone It Up co-founder Katrina Scott said on a recent episode The Motherly Podcast, Sponsored by Prudential, "We need to change the conversation with everyone and with ourselves and realize how cool it is that our bodies are different."

It's clear that Underwood is changing the conversation in her brain, and by sharing her thoughts with her 8.4 million Instagram followers she's also changing the way her community thinks about postpartum recovery.

Thanks for your honesty, Carrie.

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