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My name is Jill and I am a neat freak. A few months ago, I spent an entire morning in my son’s bedroom repairing and repositioning half a dozen Lego creations into a pleasing arrangement on a set of shelves solely dedicated for the purpose. I took it as a sign that I was powerless over my neatness addiction.

I had been doing so well, too. I hadn’t even entered the boys’ play zone for a whole week just to avoid the temptation to hyper-organize. But that day, I relapsed. And it was not pretty. I’m not sure how it happened. The day started out with such resolve…

After making fastidious work of assembling lunches, packing backpacks, hustling my sons into their jackets and hats, and watching them trundle down the front walk to the car with Dad, I stood on the deck in the sharp morning air with the satisfaction of a child-rearing woman who has accomplished astonishing things (shower not included) between the hours of 5:45 and 7:30 a.m., all without once scolding or breaking a sweat.

I took in the oak leaves still clinging assertively to their wind-tossed limbs and envisioned the day before me unfolding the way an Olympic athlete paces out a gold medal-winning 400-meter dash. That day, I decided, would go something like this:

Take 10 deep, bracing breaths. Step back inside. Hydrate with 16 ounces of suitably refrigerated water. Top off coffee mug and add small dollop of honey. Report directly to uncluttered desk, stepping right over mud-and-food-streaked boy garments still moldering where they’d been tossed before last night’s bath. Ignore mountain of unfolded clothes literally casting a shadow in the corner. Pretend rumpled confusion of unmade beds is not in the least distracting.

Sit down. Stay there.

I was hitting every mark in record time. At this rate, I’d be logging hours before the clock struck eight. But at the top of the stairs, things took a turn for the worse.

The light in my eldest son’s room was still on. I reached inside the doorjamb to flick the switch, and that’s when it happened: All the little Lego people started calling to me – their legs back-bent, helmets misaligned, lightsabers, shovels, nunchucks, and daggers unhitched from c-shaped hands…

“Jedi Master of Order Restoration!” shouted “A New Hope” Luke Skywalker from beneath the dresser. “Thank God you’re here. I’m so uncomfortable right now. Could you please do me the courtesy of picking me out of the large child’s dirty underwear and return me to the cockpit of my X-wing Starfighter? But I’ve lost my helmet. And where’s R2? I can’t fly without R2.”

Unable to resist Luke’s plaintive call, I stepped into the room. That’s all it took. Before you can say 12-Step Program, I was swiftly grouping the assembled kits into like themes – Ninjago Morro Dragons with Chima Rumble Bears, second-generation Moon Landing relics with the comparatively glossy 21st-century City sets (police SUV, construction trucks, family camper van). The Star Wars ships, naturally, got a whole shelf to themselves. And every single Minifigure, reunited with his or her corresponding vehicle, lined up from left to right in episodic order.

Two hours later, back aching, hair unkempt, eyes wild, I reemerged. For five full minutes I stood bewildered in the hall contemplating my mental acuity.

“What the hell just happened?” I said out loud. 

At first, it felt good to wrest order from the jumbled multitudes. And then it felt weird, and wasteful, and ultimately futile, because these are toys, woman! Not museum pieces.

In a matter of hours, these very same meticulously constructed wonders of interlocking-brick-system engineering would be pitted against one another in epic intergalactic mega-battles, inevitably dropped on wood floors to scatter in a million sonically unnerving directions, and then rebuilt by little brother into asymmetric bat-lizard-robot-rocket-boats with no means of egress, color consistency, or landing gear to speak of.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m not a crazy Kragle-mom. I have never super-glued any toy whose chief objective is to be deconstructed and reconstructed. I simply like structure. I respect sequences. I appreciate design.

In much the same way I enjoy the secret chemistry of successful recipes, I also enjoy the aesthetics of things built as they were meant to be built. I delight in the purposeful details: the specially crafted levers allowing wings to flap and cockpit hatches to open; the ball-and-sockets for Republic Gunship blaster articulation; the spring-loaded laser shooters that release with a gratifying click.

And yes, I’m highly distractible. I have a thing about crumbs. And hygiene routines. And pididdles (touch ceiling before the other car passes, touch seat if they’ve already passed). I try to say “Rabbit, Rabbit” before anything else on the first of each month. I brush my teeth excessively, in the same pattern every time. I bite my nails so I can file them smooth again.

I eat Ritz crackers down to perfect crescent moons, nibble by miniscule nibble. I count the steps of the stairwells I frequent and associate the number with that place. Whenever I do jumping jacks, I count out 100 then add one for each family member to send good health their way.

Unfortunately though, these habits don’t really jibe with being a parent. Consider the spit-ups, the diaper blowouts, the fistfuls of peas and cottage cheese flung madly about the kitchen. The sticky fingers and snot-slicked faces, the yogurt bubbles and juice dribbles, the blueberry barf. The excess toys spilling over the edge of milk crates and bins even though you made a pact with your husband while pregnant never to let any “cheap plastic crap” across the threshold.

Basically, as a parent, you have to let go of organization as you knew it. It’s all an illusion anyway. Kiss your aesthetically calming décor good-bye and welcome a couch you don’t mind disinfecting every few months. When you find Mr. Potato Head teeth and ears in the Magna-Tiles box, let them lie. When a Popsicle stick gets lodged in the slot-car track, trust that your child will dislodge it somehow. You’ve got to roll with the chaos for the sake of your sanity, your children’s sanity, and your partner’s, as well.

Here’s why. My sense of orderliness has nothing to do with my children’s healthy development. What’s more, I think it actually inhibits my ability to enjoy being with them when they’re having the time of their lives shoving child-safe finger paint up each other’s noses. And that shit is funny, believe me.

My OCD also got in the way of the boys taking responsibility for their own stuff. They would ask me where they left Kit Fisko, Boba Fett, or “Anakin’s Dark Side head” and I would actually know. The precise location. It became clear in about year five of motherhood this was a losing proposition if I ever expected not to feel like a servant waiting on two tiny unrelenting masters.

I’ve improved immensely. These days, I don’t maniacally clean up after them. Not as often, anyway. They know to bus their own dishes to the kitchen and put their dirty clothes in the dark and light hampers. They flush the toilet after number two and switch off lights when leaving a room. When they ask what happened to Sensei Wu’s paddy hat, I do my best to reply, “Probably where you left it.”

Four out of five days of the week, the kids actually remember their backpacks. The fifth day we gawk at each other in the drop-off line and say oh well. “Try to remember tomorrow.” And they do. Sometimes. 

That said, I’ve left my mark – or my genes anyway. As anyone who’s been a child or parent knows, those marks are indelible. Last night, my youngest woke up calling for me. When I went in to check on him, he said with a trace of panic, “My aminals are not where they’re zupposed to be.”

And because the tree stays rooted by the apple, I helped him rearrange them – Lion on the far side as protection from any monsters approaching through the window, Elephanté next to offer backup. On the door side, Bunny Sniff-Sniff, Owlie, and Niño resting where he always does in the palm of my son’s hand.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99


2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98


3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99


4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25


5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99


6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95


7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com


8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79


9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99


10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99


11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95


12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19


13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99


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

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While you're gearing up for (or in the middle of) back to school season, Halloween may seem like it will never get here, but it's only a couple of months away. And if you can barely wait for the leaves to fall and temperatures to drop, Disney and Amazon are here to get you in the spooky spirit.

Enter: Disney's Halloween shop on Amazon. 🎃This curated collection features tons of items for the season and we love that many are nods to some of our favorite festive movies. Think: Hocus Pocus and A Nightmare Before Christmas.

From Halloween costumes for kids to ghostly mugs for mama, these are the best items for the entire family:

1. Disney Jack Skellington Mug

skellington mug

If you're a fan of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, this will be your favorite mug to sip your coffee or tea from.

Price: $12.99


2. My First Halloween Board Book

disney amazon halloween shop

Halloween doesn't have to be scary, mama. This touch and feel board book introduces baby to the season.

Price: $8.99


3. Anna + Elsa Costume

anna else costume

Get a head start on your costumes by adding this one to your cart. Bonus points for having accessories that can be used for playtime year-round.

Price: $16.01-$28.99


4. Minnie Mouse Sequin Ears

minnie mouse ears

If you don't want to fully dress up to trick or treat, add on these ears to feel festive for less.

Price: $11.99


5. Hocus Pocus Women's Tee

hocus pocus tee

Hocus Pocus will always be a favorite. For a humorous take on being a mama, add this one to your wardrobe.

Price: $16.99


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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Ashley Graham is having a baby! The supermodel recently shared the exciting news on social media — and it didn't take long for her to make an important statement about pregnant bodies.

Ashley shared a beautiful photo featuring something nearly every woman on the planet has: stretch marks. The photo, which features Ashley nude and seemingly unfiltered, is kind of revolutionary—because while it's completely normal for a woman to have stretch marks (especially during pregnancy), we don't often get to see celebrities rocking this reality on magazine covers or even in social media posts.

That's probably why Ashley, who will welcome her firstborn with husband Justin Ervin, is earning so much praise for the photo, which she posted on Instagram. The images shows the model's side with the caption "same same but a little different".

One follower who is loving this real look at a pregnant body? Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who writes "My Lord, THANK YOU for this."

Ashley's post touches another user in an unexpected way: "I'm such a wimp. I'm pregnant, hormonal, and going though so many body changes. This made me tear up. I really needed this today," she writes.

Another user adds: "I showed my husband this photo and he said, 'See! She's just like you' I am almost 21 weeks pregnant and I've been struggling with my changing body. I love how much you embrace it. I've always looked up to you and your confidence. ❤️ Congratulations on your babe!"

Yet another follower adds: "This is what girls need to see. We need this as a reference for real and relatable. Women young and old. Thank you!"

Of course this is social media we're talking about so a few hateful comments make their way into the mix—but Ashley's many advocates shut that down. We have to applaud this stunning mom-to-be for showing the world how pregnancy really changes your body.

Women everywhere can see themselves in this photo of a supermodel (and how often does that happen?). That's powerful stuff—and it just might make it a little bit easier for the rest of us to embrace the changes we see in our own bodies.

One follower sums it all up best, writing: "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be a mother and teach another human being that ALL bodies are beautiful. You're going to be such an amazing mother."

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For a lot of families, summer is a season where rules relax and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting, weekday mornings are about to start a lot earlier for many kids, and parents might be wondering how to reset the clock on bedtimes.

According to Terry Cralle, an RN, certified clinical sleep expert and the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, a new school year is a good opportunity for families to get a fresh start on sleep routines.

"We have to start with really making sufficient sleep a family priority [and] having some discussions about the importance of sleep with our children," Cralle tells Motherly. "It shouldn't be at bedtime when everyone's cranky and tired. It should be during the day that families really discuss the importance of sleep for all family members."

If you need to have a conversation about getting enough sleep for school, try the following tips from Cralle.

1. Be positive about sleep

Make sure that younger children, especially, understand that sleep is a positive, not negative thing, and don't use the threat of bedtime as punishment.

"What we want to do is, ideally, change how children perceive sleep because children can see sleep as a great big timeout where they're missing out on things," Cralle explains, suggesting that parents instead try to present sleep and bedtime routines as "with positivity and as just a non-negotiable part of our lives."

Cralle wants parents to make sure they're talking with their kids about how a lack of sleep can impact one's mood, health and academic ability. Just as we teach our kids about the importance of eating healthy, we should be teaching them about the importance of sleeping healthy, and from an early age.

2. Empower your children with choices

According to Cralle, it's really important to empower children with choices around bedtime, because the one thing they can't have a choice in is the fact that they do need to go to sleep.

"They're going be more accountable, more responsible, and hopefully, develop good sleep habits and practice good hygiene early in life," if we empower them through simple choices, Cralle suggests.

"So we can say, what pajamas do you want to wear to bed tonight? What book do you want to read? Let them participate. If they can pick out their color of their pillowcase, let them do it. Whatever's age appropriate."

3. Let them do their own bedtime math

Instead of just telling kids when they need to go to bed, involve them in figuring out an appropriate bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists how much sleep kids need depending on their age. Have them look up how much sleep a kid their age needs, and then show them the National Sleep Foundation's online bedtime calculator. Kids can choose how many hours of sleep they need and when they want to wake up, and it will show them when they need to go to bed.

It's not an arbitrary decision mom and dad made, it's science and math, and you can't argue with that.

4. Add one sleep item to the back-to-school shopping list

Cralle says adding one sleep-related item to the back to school shopping list can really help children understand the importance of sleep as they head back into the classroom. A conversation about how getting a good night's sleep is important for school success, combined with a shopping trip for a new pillowcase or comforter can really help children see sleep as an important priority, and give them something to look forward to using at bedtime.

5. Provide an environment conducive to sleep

When our kids are infants we're really good at setting up rooms that can help them sleep. But as our children age out of cribs and start to accumulate a lot of possessions and playthings, their rooms can become a less ideal sleeping environment.

According to Cralle, it's not uncommon for kids to get up after bedtime and start playing with toys in their room. She recommends removing stimulating toys or storing them in another area of the home, and never putting televisions, tablets or smartphones in a child's room.

6. Enact a media curfew

At least an hour before bedtime, screen time should come to an end and other, more relaxing activities can begin. Cralle says families can designate a certain hour as DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, or move from away from brightly lit screens and towards a board games or puzzles, "things to do to get that blue light out of their eyes."

A family-wide media curfew can be a good thing, says Cralle, as it helps parents "walk the walk" when it comes to sleep hygiene. "Don't be looking at your iPad and tell your child to put it away," she explains.

7. Remember: It's never too late for good sleep habits.

According to Cralle, age 3 is the ideal time to start reinforcing the importance of sleep for a child's health, but older kids and even mom and dad can reverse bad bedtime habits if the whole family buys in. That may mean curtailing your kids' (and your own) caffeine consumption, says Cralle.

"We're seeing younger and younger age groups of school children walking around with their Starbucks cups, with coffee, late in the afternoon," says Cralle, who thinks a lot of parents just don't have good information on how caffeine consumption can impact sleep—for our kids and ourselves.

She recommends limiting the number of caffeinated beverages available in the house if you've got tweens and teens at home, and watching your own consumption as well.

"We have to say 'Here's how we're all going to approach it.' It's sort of like seat belts with children, we never would buckle them in and get into the car, and not do it ourselves."

This may be the season to tweak your own sleep habits mama. Here's to a well-rested September.

[Correction: August 24, 2018: The sleep calculator was created by the National Sleep Foundation, not the Better Sleep Council.]

[A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Learn + Play

Finding out that you are having multiples is always a surprise, but finding out that you're in labor with triplets when you didn't even know you were pregnant, well that's the mother of all surprises.

It happened to Dannette Glitz of South Dakota on August 10. The Associated Press reports she had no idea she was pregnant and thought the pain she was experiencing was kidney stones.

"I never felt movement, I never got morning sickness, nothing!" Glitz explains in a social media post.

"Well this was a huge shock"

When Glitz posted photos of her triplets to her Facebook page last week one of her friends was confused. "What? You really had triplets?" they asked.

Glitz (who has two older children) started getting pain in her back and sides in the days before the birth, but it felt like the kidney stones she had previously experienced so she brushed it off. Eventually, she was in so much pain all she could do was lay in bed and cry.

"It hurt to move and even breath[e]," she wrote, explaining that she decided to go to an Urgent Care clinic, "thinking I'm going to have to have surgery to break the stones up."

A pregnancy test at Urgent Care revealed Glitz was pregnant—that was the first surprise. The second surprise happened when a heart monitor revealed the possibility of twins.

'I need another blanket, there's a third'

Glitz was transferred to a regional hospital in Spearfish, South Dakota. "And in about 2 hours they confirmed twins as there was 2 heart beats," she writes.

Glitz was 34 weeks along and four centimeters dilated. She was transferred again, rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Rapid City and prepped for a C-section. When the C-section was happening she heard the doctor announce that Baby A was a boy and Baby B was a girl.

"Then [the doctor] yells 'I need another blanket, there's a third' ....I ended up having triplets, 1 boy [and] 2 girls," Glitz writes.

Glitz and her husband Austin named their surprise children Blaze, Gypsy and Nikki and each of the trio weighed about 4 pounds at birth. Because the couple's older children are school-aged, they didn't have any baby stuff at home. Friends quickly rallied, raising over $2,000 via a Facebook fundraiser to help the family with unexpected expenses.

A family of seven 

The family is getting used to their new normal and is so thankful for the community support and donations. "It's amazing in a small town how many people will come together for stuff that's not expected," Glitz told KOTA TV.

Her oldest, 10-year-old Ronnie, is pretty happy about a trio of siblings showing up suddenly.

"One time I seen a shooting star and I wished for a baby brother, and I wished for like two sisters for my little sister because she always wanted a little sister, I knew this day was always going to come," Ronnie told TV reporters.

Ronnie may not have been surprised, but everyone else in this story certainly was.

Congratulations to Danette and her family! You've got this, mama.

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