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The Importance of Setting Family Goals – and How to Do It

I’m willing to bet when January 1st came around, you had at least one or two personal goals bouncing around in your mind. Most of us do. It’s a natural time to reflect on the year behind us, and set our sights on the year that will soon unfold.

As common as personal resolutions and goals are for most of us, the vast majority of families I talk to have never given thought to setting goals for their family.

What could account for this disconnect? Well, quite possibly the craploads of work parents already have laid at their feet. Nonetheless, being intentional about our goals and vision for our family is a process no family should go without, and I’ll explain why.

If we don’t look ahead as a family we won’t move forward

When we take the time to reflect on how we’d like our family to grow, we invest in our family’s success. It’s highly likely that if we don’t take the time to develop goals for our family, we won’t take the steps necessary to move closer to them. When families come together to work toward a common goal, they’re more likely to succeed.

Thinking about goals prompts us to think about what matters

It’s far too easy to get caught up in the chaos of family life, moving from day to day without stopping to consider what’s of main importance to us. What do we want to emphasize as parents leading our family? What goals or accomplishments are of utmost importance in the upcoming year?

When we have conviction in the ‘why’ behind our goals, we’ll be more likely to follow through with them. Having a clear concept of our goals also increases our intrinsic motivation.

When we work together we strengthen our relationships

When family goals are set collaboratively, it provides space for the thoughts and concerns of both parent and child to be expressed. When we hear and understand the perspective of other family members, we’re more inclined to understand and empathize with each other’s ideas. This sets a tone of mutual understanding and respect, while building family morale when we work as a team.

When we develop goals our children learn important life skills

As we navigate through what’s important to each member of the family and deliberate goals, children learn valuable skills in what could be considered the most vital relationship skill of all: communication. Children also learn valuable skills of self-discipline, commitment, and perseverance when they strive toward a longer term common goal.

Goals help families feel a greater sense of personal agency

Many variables in our children’s lives are outside of our control, whether it be the children they choose to befriend or the teacher they get for third grade. Goal setting can leave both parent and child feeling that they have some sense of control in moving toward their intended direction.

Foolproof family goal setting

1 | Be S.M.A.R.T.

The popular SMART framework is the gold standard in business for breaking down goals, so why not use it for our family? It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and timely. In short, the guidelines will help to keep your goals realistic while focusing on the how as much as the what. It’s helpful to differentiate short term goals from long term.

2 | Everyone helps

Plan a time for the whole family to sit down and discuss goals together, whether it be a family meeting or pizza night. Parents can plan out ideas and main points ahead of time, and allow each family member to provide their own thoughts and suggestions as well.

3 | Visibility is key

Write down goals and keep them out in plain sight. For younger kids, drawing pictures aids in their processing of information and well as committing the goals to memory.

4 | Focus on process along with outcome

Of course, attaining a goal is success, but don’t discount all the other good stuff that comes along the way. Small efforts should be positively reinforced, and opportunities to encourage each other can be taken advantage of in order to keep spirits and motivation high. 

5 | Follow up

Research tells us that the more we review and reflect on our goals, the more likely we are to achieve them. Decide how often you’ll follow up, and stick with it. Strategize what’s working and what’s not, and adjust from there.

While it will take a bit of extra effort and what few brain cells you have left at the end of the day, taking the time to set family goals is well worth the investment. When we become intentional about what we’d like to accomplish as a family, we’re not only creating a more meaningful family life, but we’re also creating a road map for our family’s future.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).

In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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