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Summer is full of opportunities to stay up later than usual; from firefly sightings to backyard barbecues and the additional hours of daylight, there are a million reasons why your kids’ sleep patterns have likely changed over the summer.

If you’re lucky, staying up later in the evening has also meant sleeping later in the morning – a parent’s dream. But don’t get too used to it.

In some parts of the United States, school has already started. The rest of us know that the regular morning routine is looming around the corner. My own son has to catch the bus at 7:20 and he has been regularly sleeping past 7:30 this summer. As much as I’d love to stay on that schedule, we’re planning to introduce him to the concept of an alarm clock at least two weeks prior to school starting. 

That gut instinct, it turns out, is backed up by science. Not only is it challenging for kids to change their sleeping patterns, but if they keep staying up late even when they have to wake up earlier they’ll lose precious hours of sleep that could impact more than just our morning stress levels.

The impacts of less sleep

It has long been argued that the sleep needs of adolescents can directly compete with the school schedules and wake-up times that society imposes on them (as this long-term Stanford University Study explains). Just as the teenager’s natural bedtime and rising time shift later, school demands often shift earlier. Unfortunately studies like this have not changed school schedules in many communities.

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Letting kids stay up later, while forcing them to rise earlier leads to sleep deprivation that can have harmful effects on academic performance and behavior. This is not only true for adolescents but for younger children as well. The more sleepy our kids are when they are in school, the more likely they are to suffer negative impacts on memory, learning, and school performance (Dewald et al., 2010). Consider the following studies as examples:

A 2005 experiment (including 74 kids between the ages of 6 and 12) found that sleep restriction was connected to academic performance and attention among children as rated by their teachers, even among children who exhibited no symptoms prior to the experiment. 

A 2003 study that monitored children’s neurobehavioral functioning during their normal sleep routine and then asked them to limit sleep by just one hour had similar results. Students slept more deeply during their limited sleep but exhibited reduced alertness during the day. 

Likewise, a 2002 study found that connections between sleep quality and neurobehavioral functioning were even more prevalent among younger children. These children were also more likely to have behavioral problems, as reported by their parents.

Changing sleep patterns and transitioning to school

The importance of a consistent bedtime routine is often stressed in parenting literature as a means for addressing the struggle to get children to sleep. But getting children to sleep is only part of the reason why this schedule is important. Research also suggests that a predictable sleep routine is essential as we prepare students to transition to school. For example:

A 2002 study of over 200 incoming preschoolers found that children who had disrupted sleep patterns, defined as “variability in reported amount of sleep, variability in bedtime, and lateness of bedtime” had a harder time transitioning to preschool. 

A 2005 study of adolescents during the change from summer schedule to school time found that high school students can lose up to 120 minutes of sleep per night during the two weeks just after school starts compared to their summer sleep schedule. This loss of sleep resulted in poor performance in the earlier part of the day for most students. 

Plenty of research has demonstrated the potential positive benefits of changing to a later school schedule, especially for adolescents (Wahistrom, 2002; Kirby et al., 2011). But most school systems have not made the change to a later school day due to a plethora of competing factors, such as after-school schedules and transportation issues. 

Until we can figure out a way to align school start times (and our work schedules for that matter) with the circadian rhythms of our children, we’re going to have to do our best to help our children adapt to the start of school. 

Tips for adjusting bedtime

Helping your child transition to an earlier bedtime and wake-up time is something you should attempt gradually, especially if summer has changed the regular schedule drastically. Give yourself at least two weeks before school starts, if possible. 

Learn how much sleep your child should be getting. 

Before you decide on the best bedtime arrangement for you and your child, think about how much sleep your child needs. You might have a good idea based on experience, but these guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation can also be a good reference point.

Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day

(Including naps)

Newborn

14 – 17 Hours

 

 

infant

12 – 15 Hours

Toddler

11 – 14 Hours

 

Preschool

10 – 13 Hours

 

School age

9 – 11 Hours

 

 

 

Teenager

8 – 10 Hours

 

From the National Sleep Foundation

If you need to change to an earlier bedtime, do it gradually. 

Pediatric sleep expert Judith Owens notes that it is much easier to ask a child to stay up later than to get them to go to bed earlier. She suggests working in 15 minute intervals, moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier every two or three days until you get back to the desired bed time.  Remember to also move the other parts of the bedtime routine (like dinner and bath time) earlier, too. 

Overemphasize the quiet pre-bed mood. 

Any strategy for encouraging sleep will emphasize creating a quiet, dark, technology-free bedtime routine. This might be especially important as kids are shifting back to school. Summer bedtimes often mean staying out late and falling asleep in the car, or rushing to bed after an exciting picnic. Children are naturally tired after these adventures and often fall asleep more willingly. 

As you remove these elements and ask kids to shift back to a more “normal” bedtime routine, they may be used to the excitement and energy-draining impact of summer schedules and won’t feel ready for bed. You might find that an added emphasis on creating a calm post-dinner environment is more important than normal during this transition period.

Create a wake-up plan together. 

When you know that waking up earlier is going to be a challenge, it can be useful to talk to your child about how you’ll work together to make it easier. Does your child want an alarm clock instead of you nagging at them? Can you set out clothes to wear the night before to make morning dressing easier? 

Younger children may benefit from a checklist that includes the tasks they need to accomplish before heading to school or starting the day. You could also consider some ideas to be more mindful and less chaotic in the morning, like choosing nature over technology or taking a 10 second breathing break before heading out the door. Talk to your child about the benefits of a happy morning routine and celebrate the mornings when everyone achieves that goal.

Change your own bedtime. 

As much as we know that we need to help our kids be prepared to wake up earlier, we’re going to have to wake up right along with them. Don’t underestimate your own need to make a gradual transition. Use similar strategies to move your own bedtime and wake-up time earlier, too.

Be patient. 

Asking our kids to change a schedule or routine to which they have become accustomed – and may be enjoying – will bring its own challenges. They may be resistant because they feel they’re losing a more fun daily routine. Emphasize the opportunity to spend quiet bonding time together, to do things together as a family, or to discuss what they are excited about when it comes to getting back to school. Let them know that you understand their feelings and may share them, but emphasize the positive opportunities that back-to-school brings.

So add “gradually shift bedtime routine” to your back-to-school to-do list. You’ll thank yourself when it’s easier to rise and catch the bus on that first school morning. At the very least you’ll have a much better first day of school photo.

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Did you hear that? That was the sound of Nordstrom and Maisonette making all your kid's summer wardrobe dreams come true.

Nordstrom partnered with Maisonette to create the perfect in-store pop-up shop from May 24th-June 23rd, featuring some of our favorite baby and kids brands, like Pehr, Zestt Organics, Lali and more. (Trust us, these items are going to take your Instagram feed to the next level of cuteness. 😍) Items range from $15 to $200, so there's something for every budget.

Pop-In@Nordstrom x Maisonette

Maisonette has long been a go-to for some of the best children's products from around the world, whether it's tastefully designed outfits, adorable accessories, or handmade toys we actually don't mind seeing sprawled across the living room rug. Now their whimsical, colorful aesthetic will be available at Nordstrom.

The pop-in shops will be featured in nine Nordstrom locations: Costa Mesa, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX; Dallas, TX; Bellevue, WA; Seattle, WA; Toronto, ON; and Vancouver, BC.

Don't live nearby? Don't stress! Mamas all across the U.S. and Canada will be able to access the pop-in merchandise online at nordstrom.com/pop

But don't delay―these heirloom-quality pieces will only be available at Nordstrom during the pop-in's run, and then they'll be over faster than your spring break vacation. Happy shopping! 🛍

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

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For decades, doctors have prescribed progesterone, one of the key hormones your body needs during pregnancy, to prevent a miscarriage. The hormone, produced by the ovaries, is necessary to prepare the body for implantation. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces progesterone, which suppresses uterine contractions and early labor.

But a new study out of the UK finds that administering progesterone to women experiencing bleeding in their first trimester does not result in dramatically more successful births than a placebo. Yet, for a small group of mothers-to-be who had experienced "previous recurrent miscarriages," the numbers showed promise.

The study, conducted at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham in the UK, is the largest of its kind, involving 4,153 pregnant women who were experiencing bleeding in those risky (and nerve-wracking) early weeks. The women were randomly split into two groups, with one group receiving 400 milligrams of progesterone via a vaginal suppository, and the other receiving a placebo of the same amount. Both groups were given the suppositories through their 16th week of pregnancy.

Of the group given progesterone, 75% went on to have a successful, full-term birth, compared to 72% for the placebo.

As the study notes, for most women, the administration of progesterone "did not result in a significantly higher incidence of live births than placebo." But for women who had experienced one or two previous miscarriages, the result was a 4% increase in the number of successful births. And for women who had experienced three or more recurrent miscarriages, the number jumped to a 15% increase.

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Dr. Arri Coomarasamy, Professor of Gynecology at the University of Birmingham and Director of Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research, said the implications for that group are "huge." "Our finding that women who are at risk of a miscarriage because of current pregnancy bleeding and a history of a previous miscarriage could benefit from progesterone treatment has huge implications for practice," he said.

It's estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And while even a spot of blood no doubt increases the fear in every expectant mother's mind, bleeding is actually a very common occurrence during pregnancy, Coomarasamy said. Still, first trimester bleeding is particularly risky, with a third of women who experience it going on to miscarry.

So for women who have been through it multiple times, Coomarasamy's findings are an important avenue to explore. "This treatment could save thousands of babies who may have otherwise been lost to a miscarriage," he added.

The study is among a number of recent groundbreaking discoveries made by doctors looking to further understand what causes miscarriages and what can be done to prevent them. While about 70% of miscarriages are attributed to chromosomal abnormalities, doctors recently learned that certain genetic abnormalities, which exist in a small group of parents-to-be, could be discovered by testing the mother and father, as well as the embryo.

Doctors have also discovered that even knowing the sex of your baby could predict the complications a mother may face, thus helping medical professionals to assist in keeping the pregnancy viable.

But while there is no sweeping solution to stop miscarriages, for some couples, the use of progesterone does offer a glimmer of hope. "The results from this study are important for parents who have experienced miscarriage," Jane Brewin, chief executive of Tommy's said. "They now have a robust and effective treatment option which will save many lives and prevent much heartache."

Brewin added that studies like this one are imperative to our understanding of how the creation of life, which remains both a miracle and a mystery, truly works. "It gives us confidence to believe that further research will yield more treatments and ultimately make many more miscarriages preventable," she said.

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It's never easy to give up a career and launch a whole new one, but when I decided to end my time as an opera singer and move into the field of sales, I knew I could do it. After all, I had the perfect role model: my mom.

When I was growing up, she worked as a dental hygienist, but when I started college, she took some courses in sales. She was single with two kids in college, which was a driving force to make more money. But above that, she truly had a passion for sales. In no time, she got jobs and excelled at them, ultimately earning her the title of Vendor Representative of the Year at her electronics company.

When I entered the field of sales, an unusual and unexpected twist followed. Several years into my career, I was hired by a different electronics company. My mom and I ended up selling similar products to some of the same businesses. (Neither of our companies realized this, and we have different last names.)

But rather than feeling uncomfortable, I saw this as a great opportunity. She and I were both committed to doing our best. More often than not, she beat me when we went after the same piece of business. But in the process, I learned so much from her. I was able to see how her work ethic, commitment and style drove her success. I had even more to emulate.

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Here are some of the biggest business lessons I learned from my working mom:

1. Use your existing skill set to differentiate yourself.

As a dental hygienist, my mom knew how to talk to people and make them feel comfortable. She had also served as a youth leader at three different churches where my dad preached. In each town, she found at-risk kids, brought them together and developed programs for them. She had learned how to help people improve themselves and make their lives better.

In sales, she did the same thing, focusing on how the products or services she was selling could genuinely make a difference in the lives of her customers. Those skills translated seamlessly into her new career.

2. Start strong from day one—don't wait for permission to launch your full potential.

From day one at a job, my mom showed up with energy and vigor to get going. She didn't take time to be tentative. Instead, she leaned into her tasks—the equivalent of blasting out of the gate in a race. Having seen how well this worked for her, I strive to do the same.

3. Have empathy, it's essential.

Many women have been falsely accused of being "too emotional" in business. However, empathy is a necessity and drives better results. As a businesswoman, my mom set herself apart by demonstrating genuine empathy for her clients and her colleagues. She loves getting to know people's stories. That understanding is a key component in her finalizing deals and helping her company reach higher levels of success.

4. Learn often—you're never done building your skill set.

My mom is the reason I spend at least three months out of each year getting a new certification or learning a new skill. She's always working to improve, harness new technologies or develop new competencies—and she's passed on that eagerness to learn to me. She knows that to stay on top, you have to keep learning.

5. Bring on the charm.

By nature, I'm analytical. I like to present the numbers to clients, showing the data to help sway their decisions. And that has its place, but charm is universal. Being someone people want to do business with makes a huge difference. If I had a nickel for every time a prospect told me, "I love your mother," I could retire now! Business, especially sales, is about the connections you make as much as the value you bring.

Our paths have taken our careers in different directions, but along the way, I've done my best to incorporate all these skills. Thank you, mom, for teaching me all this, and much more.

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Every mom has her own list of character traits each of she hopes to instill in her children, but there is one that stands out as a big priority for the majority of millennial mothers.

Motherly's 2019 State of Motherhood survey revealed that kindness is incredibly important to today's moms. It is the number one trait we want to cultivate in our children, and according to stats from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, this emphasis on kindness couldn't come at a better time.

In recent years kids and parents have been straying from kindness, but these Ivy League experts have some great ideas about how today's moms can get the next generation back on track so they can become the caring adults of tomorrow.

Between 2013 and 2014, as part of Harvard's Making Caring Common project, researchers surveyed 10,000 middle and high school students across the nation. They found that no matter what race, class or culture the kids identified with, the majority of the students surveyed valued their own personal success and happiness way more than that of others.

Why do kids value their own success so much more than things like caring and fairness? Well, apparently, mom and dad told them to.

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Eighty percent of the 10,000 students said their parents taught them that their own happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for others. (So much for sharing is caring.)

The folks at Harvard say that valuing your own ambition is obviously a good thing (in moderation) in today's competitive world, but prioritizing it so much more than ethical values like kindness, caring and fairness makes kids more likely to be cruel, disrespectful and dishonest.

So how do we fix this? Here's Harvard's four-step plan for raising kinder kids.

1. Help them practice being nice

Giving kids daily opportunities to practice caring and kind acts helps make ethical behavior second nature. They could help you with chores, help a friend with homework or work on a project to help homelessness.

All those tasks would help a child flex their empathy muscles. The key is to increase the challenges over time so your child can develop a stronger capacity for caregiving as they grow.

2. Help them see multiple perspectives

The researchers want kids to “zoom in" and listen closely to the people around them, but also see the bigger picture. “By zooming out and taking multiple perspectives, including the perspectives of those who are too often invisible (such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn't speak their language, or the school custodian), young people expand their circle of concern and become able to consider the justice of their communities and society," the study's authors' wrote.

3. Model kindness

Our kids are watching, so if we want them to be kinder, it's something we should try to cultivate in ourselves. The Harvard team suggests parents make an effort to widen our circles of concern and deepen our understanding of issues of fairness and justice.

4. Teach kids to cope with destructive feelings

According to the researchers, the ability to care about others can be overwhelmed by a kid's feelings of anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings. They suggest we teach our kids teach that while all feelings are okay to feel, some ways of dealing with them are not helpful, or kind (for example, “Hitting your classmate might make you happy, but it won't make them happy and isn't very kind. Counting to 10 and talking about why you're mad is more productive than hitting.")

While the folks at Harvard are concerned that so many kids are being taught to value their own happiness above all, they were also encouraged by the students who do prioritize caring and kindness. One of the students surveyed wrote, “People should always put others before themselves and focus on contributing something to the world that will improve life for future generations."

If we follow the advice of Harvard researchers, the world will see more kids that think like that, and that's what future generations need.

[A version of this post was originally published November 8, 2017. It has been updated.]

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These days more women are having babies into their 40s, but the idea that women are facing down the biological clock is pretty pervasive—once you're over 35, you automatically receive that "advanced maternal age" classification, while your male partner's age may never even be mentioned. The pressure on older moms is unfair, because according to new research from Rutgers University, men may face age-related fertility decline too and America's dads are getting older.

It's a new idea, but this finding actually takes 40 years worth of research into account—which, coincidentally, is around the age male fertility may start to decline. According to Rutgers researchers, the medical community hasn't quite pinpointed the onset of advanced age, but it hovers somewhere between ages 35 and 45.

The study which appears in the journal Maturitas, finds that a father's age may not just affect his fertility, but also the health of his partner and offspring.

Based on previously conducted research, the team behind this study found evidence that men over 45 could put their partners at greater risk for pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Babies born to older fathers also have an increased likelihood of premature birth, late stillbirth, low Apgar scores, low birthweight, newborn seizures and more. The risks appear to exist later in life, too: Research suggests children of older fathers have greater risk of childhood cancers, cognitive issues and autism.

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There's been plenty of studies surrounding advanced maternal age, but research on advanced paternal age is pretty slim—scientists don't quite understand how age correlates to these factors at this point. But researchers from Rutgers believe that age-related decline in testosterone and sperm quality degradation may be to blame. "Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, in men, sperm also tend to lose 'fitness' over the life cycle," Gloria Bachmann, director of the Women's Health Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, explains in a release for this news.

As we've previously reported, more and more men are waiting until later in life to have children. According to a 2017 Stanford study, children born to fathers over 40 represent 9% of U.S. births, and the average age of first-time fathers has climbed by three-and-a-half years over the past four decades —so this research matters now more than ever, and it may represent the first step towards setting certain standards in place for men who choose to delay parenthood.

The biggest thing to come out of this research may be the need for more awareness surrounding advanced paternal age. This particular study's authors believe doctors should be starting to have conversations with their male patients, possibly even encouraging them to consider banking sperm if they're considering parenthood later in life.

Women certainly tend to be aware of the age-related risks to their fertility, and many regularly hear that they should freeze their eggs if they're not ready for motherhood. And while it's still too early to say whether we'll ever examine paternal age this closely, this research may set a whole new conversation in motion.

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