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The new iPhone 8 is scheduled to be released on September 15, but insider tips have been rampant on Twitter. Rumors have it this baby might run you about $999 but with add-ons could get up to $1500! For that price it better help me parent. With that in mind, I bring you six ways the new phone can up your parenting game:


1 | Your kid can’t break it using their usual techniques

There’s a possibility that it’s waterproof, not just water-resistant and shatterproof. I don’t even think this requires an explanation. You can’t seem to hurt this one. So hand it to your kids when they’re bored! Bring it in the bathroom where you spend most of your time anyway. Stop worrying about your phone and start using it more.

2 | You can use your hands for something else

Supposedly it’s got wireless charging capabilities. So even when your cat has chewed up the cords and your baby just fell asleep in your lap, you can charge your phone. The rumors also say that this feature might be an add-on, so make sure you save up for it.

3 | You now have a parenting assistant

It tells your partner or friend where you are. If you aren’t a parent, you won’t get how great that is. How many times have you been like, “To be honest I don’t have any idea where I am. Hold on while I stop my toddler from freaking out on the floor, and move my diaper bag to a non-dirty location, and wipe the glaze off my hand, and then I’ll tell you where I am.” Siri has been upgraded to use “on-device learning” to become more contextual. This means that if somebody messages to ask where you are, for example, Siri is now clever enough to serve up your location.

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4 | You don’t have to flip it around to turn it on

This is still just a rumor, but some sources say the new iPhone 8 will have the touch ID in the back of the phone. For a parent, this may prove much better. A fingerprint scanner on the back of a phone isn’t hard to reach. You cannot pick up a phone without placing some of your fingers on its back, so they’re already in the right position to use the scanner. Anything that reduces the amount of moves required to get the job done is okay in my parenting book. If you can’t even be bothered to pick up your new assistant, don’t worry – it’s also going to have face-scanning technology. Not kidding.

5 | You can keep your text messages coded

My need to keep something about my adult life secret from my kids loves the idea of the new multi-lingual texting feature. Type in two languages at the same time without having to switch keyboards. This phone recognizes any pair of the following languages: English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Spanish. So now I can text my husband, “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” anytime I want!

6 | You can finally use every app you hear about

This iPhone is faster. Don’t know about helpful parenting apps? You should. Every parent should be making use of the built-in apps and downloading several awesome apps as well. Make your iPhone work for you.

Built-in apps

You don’t even have to buy these helpful apps. Use them to up your parenting game.

Camera

The iPhone 7 gave us an amazing new camera. Parents should be using it to document their child’s life and to create memory books using other apps (see below). The new iPhone 8 has vertical dual cameras on rear to make your pictures better than a professional. Who has time to book photo shoots in matching outfits anyway?

Music

Adding music to your life has never been easier with iTunes. You can set up a lullaby playlist to loop over and over until that baby of yours finally falls asleep.

Maps

The GPS Mapping app helps you stay in the car when your kids are strapped in and finally napping. No need to run into a store to ask for help. In fact, the iPhone is so intuitive you can even google where you are going at home and when you launch your map app, it’ll ask you if you want directions there. Love this!

Calendar

Make sure you’re using its calendar capabilities to make your parenting day easier. Your iPhone intelligently picks up on scheduling details in your conversations. So if you type something like “I’m free today at …” you’re presented with available times on your calendar. This time saver is fantastic for parents who have 17 things going on at once – so that’s all of us, right?

Health

The new iPhone can suggest apps you might like to use based on your location and the time of day. When you walk with your stroller, for example, it may suggest your favorite personal-training app to help you get the most out of your walking workout.

Apps to download

Any app can be downloaded, but the secret to upping your parenting game is in using the apps.

  • Kids Eat Free: Find places where you don’t have to pay for your kid to eat
  • Net Nanny: Make sure you know what your child is doing on the internet
  • Family Locator: Know where your kids are whether they remember to let you know or not
  • Family Organizer: Now everyone can share task lists, grocery lists, and calendars
  • Chores Rewarder: Assign each chore a point structure and let your kids check in when they’ve done one
  • Reduce Distractions: Block out social media when you need to
  • Meet Parents: Get to know other people with similarly aged children
  • Save Kids Artwork: Now you can save your kids artwork without purchasing a storage bin
  • Owlet Baby Care: Put a sock on your baby and your phone will tell you she’s okay
  • Keep Track of Meds: Scan your meds and medical needs and keep them safe and ready
  • Travel Planner and Manager: Stop trying to remember all the details of your family trip
  • Find a Sitter: This is better for city families, but nice to have a resource to find screened sitters
  • Manage Your Money: Start figuring out how you spend your family money and make it work for you
  • Breastfeeding Places: Find out where can you pump or breastfeed without gawkers
  • Photo books: Use your new amazing photos well by making photo books to record your child’s memories and for great gifts
Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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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 ✨

After a pregnancy that is best described as uncomfortable, Jessica Simpson is finally done "Jess-tating" and is now a mama of three.

Baby Birdie Mae Johnson joined siblings Ace and Maxwell on Tuesday, March 19, Simpson announced via Instagram.

Simpson's third child weighed in at 10 pounds, 13 ounces.

Birdie's name is no surprise to Jessica's Instagram followers, who saw numerous references to the name in her baby shower photos and IG stories in the last few weeks.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to experts.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

At this moment in time, Simpson and her husband, former NFL player Eric Johnson, are probably busy counting little fingers and toes , which is great news because it means Simpson's toes can finally deflate. She's had a terrible time with swollen feet during this pregnancy, and was also hospitalized multiple times due to bronchitis in her final trimester.

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We're so glad to see Simpson's little Birdie has finally arrived!

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Spring is officially here and if you're looking for a way to celebrate the change in the season, why not treat the kids to some ice cream, mama?

DQ locations across the country (but not the ones in malls) are giving away free small vanilla cones today, March 20! So pack up the kids and get to a DQ near you.

And if you can't make it today, from March 21 through March 31, DQ's got a deal where small cones will be just 50 cents (but you have to download the DQ mobile app to claim that one).

Another chain, Pennsylvania-based Rita's Italian Ice is also dishing up freebies today, so if DQ's not your thing you can grab a free cup of Italian ice instead.

We're so excited that ice cream season is here and snowsuit season is behind us. Just a few short weeks and the kids will be jumping through the sprinklers.

Welcome back, spring. We've missed you!

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The woman who basically single-handedly taught the world to embrace vulnerability and imperfection is coming to Netflix and we cannot wait to binge whatever Brené Brown's special will serve up because we'll probably be better people after watching it.

It drops on April 19 and is called Brené Brown: The Call to Courage. If it has even a fraction of the impact of her books or the viral Ted talk that made her a household name, it's going to be life and culture changing.

Announcing the special on Instagram Brown says she "cannot believe" she's about to be "breaking some boundaries over at Netflix" with the 77-minute special.

Netflix describes the special as a discussion of "what it takes to choose courage over comfort in a culture defined by scarcity, fear and uncertainty" and it sounds exactly like what we need right now.

April 19 is still pretty far away though, so if you need some of Brown's wisdom now, check out her books on Amazon or watch (or rewatch) the 2010 Ted Talk that put her—and our culture's relationship with vulnerability and shame—in the national spotlight.

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

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If Marie Kondo's Netflix show got people tidying up, Brown's Netflix special is sure to be the catalyst for some courageous choices this spring.

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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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