the home edit tips for families

I'm not a super-organized person myself. In fact, as a Gemini, I thrive in chaos. My husband says my closet is a disaster, but that's not true. It's just organized in a way he doesn't understand. However, now that we are parents of three kids under 3, I crave a more simple, clear and organized life.

One night while pumping, Netflix recommended The Home Edit. Sure, why not, I thought, clicking through anything that would mute the bzz bzz bzz of my pump for the millionth time of the day. Enter: Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin to my life.

Three episodes later, I was buying boxes and label makers and planning how to tackle every single room in the house we recently moved into. They were exactly the people I needed to get me organized. First, Clea loves rainbows (I joke my favorite color is "rainbow") and because they're not only moms, but hilarious moms—the kind of moms you want to hang out all day with because they get you, but also hold you accountable to your messy junk drawers.

The pair say they've been so busy now that everyone is stuck at home due to the pandemic. "You are in your space so much now, more than everyone has probably ever been, so anything you might have written off like 'whatever, I'll get it to it' —those things really bother you now. Now they really irritate you because you look at them all day long," says Joanna.

Because 2020 is weird and nothing should surprise me anymore, I got the chance to chat with my new favorite duo about how to baby-proof your home in style, what to do with tiny newborn clothes, if we even really need to keep our toddler's artwork, and their partnership with SimpliSafe.


On childproofing

With twins who are starting to crawl and a curious almost 3-year-old, I asked the duo if there was a cute way to childproof that didn't look like (IMHO) ugly plastic latches over all of my kitchen doors. Basically, is it possible to childproof in style? According to Clea, the trick might be in not necessarily locking the cabinets but choosing what goes in them, "It's a challenge that all parents face because there isn't a great childproofing mechanism. I personally have found that I need to make my space as kid-friendly as possible within the realm of reason, because it is my home, and they get to live in it. I never really locked my cabinets I just made sure that things I didn't want them to access weren't down low."

On how to start organizing your house, and avoiding this one mistake everyone makes

I straight up asked what is the most common mistake parents make when they attempt to organize their homes—and yup, I'm guilty of it. They suggest we shouldn't start by organizing the hardest or largest space in the house—I started with our bathroom a week ago and it still looks like a glitter bomb went off in it—because there's a good chance you'll be paralyzed by how much there is to do. "It's like attempting calculus when you need addition," said Joanna. Start small, be bolstered by your victory and keep going.

On what parents should be constantly decluttering

It's weird how children's stuff multiplies without even you noticing. Mismatched socks, outgrown clothes, school stuff, you name it. They slowly start taking over your house. According to Clea and Joanna, who emphatically agreed on this, the one thing we should continuously purge is toys. "They break, you have missing puzzle pieces...You are holding on to this stuff and they can be quite bulky, especially when they are young. Those toys are big and bulky. The two of us, we are crazy, we declutter our house like every week," Joanna told us, which like... #goals. Clea's genius suggestion is to put toys in a little purgatory zone. If your child doesn't notice it's missing, it is time to part ways with it. If they do, you can return it to where it belonged. (In an organized fashion, of course.)


On if we should even keep kid's art forever

Well, it turns out they have a lot of feelings about this one. Yes, keep some, but not all. "You get less attached each year as they grow older. In the beginning, the first time they draw a heart or whatever you are like 'OMG' and save it. And then they draw 300 of them, and you just don't save another one," Joanna told us. "Something with a timestamp, like a handprint or something like that... yeah, I probably have a few of those. But other than that—brutal. You just have to be brutal."

Brutal it is, ladies. I guess I don't need a box full of half scribbled papers. If you are a bit more sentimental than I am, they recommend having a box for the school year to throw all their art in, and at the end, you can review what you really want to keep.

On how to keep all the layers that winter requires accessible for little ones but organized at the same time

Temps are dropping and winter is just around the corner, which means soon we'll have to break out mittens and hats and snow boots and jackets, and OMG, I'm tired just thinking about it. To me, all of that sounds like a recipe for a cluttered mudroom. Clea and Joanna both agree that the solution to this very universal problem is baskets. All the baskets. They're easy for little kids to take items in and out of and participate in keeping things neat and tidy.

On how to foster toddler independence without the mess

"Setting them up with systems that they can maintain is setting them up for success at a young age. Have large categories, so you can have all figurines in one basket and blocks in another basket," said Joanna. This is a straightforward method to help them understand how to put things away. At first, it doesn't matter if the kinds of blocks or figurines are mixed together. They'll level up to separating them later. They also emphasized how important it is to involve young children in the process of organizing because they're already doing it at school. (Yes, despite how messy they might be at home, chances are your kiddo cleans up at school!). Simple steps are key because they can easily understand see them through without getting frustrated or distracted in the process. (So no, don't wait for them to organize their own toys by colors of the rainbow, that's on you!)


On how to organize tiny clothes

In one episode, they organized Eva Longoria's son's closet and opted to hang every single piece of clothing to make it easier to visualize what he had. I attempted to do the same with my son. I ran out of closet space after hanging all of his jackets, hoodies, sweaters and snow gear. Perhaps he needs a bigger closet, but more importantly, I shouldn't be buying any more garments in those categories because he already has too much. When it came to my twins' clothes, I felt like hanging them was kind of a waste since it's mostly footed pajamas and plain onesies. It turns out, you don't have to be a hanger. You can also be a folder. It just depends on your preference and your folding skills. "Whatever is easy to maintain, that's the right system," says Joanna.

On 2020 making us reevaluate everything

I told Clea and Joanna how I had all these plans for my maternity leave with the twins; I wanted brunch dates and being out and about with them all day long. Instead, I got a quarantine and spending a lot of time at home, which has made me prioritize things I wouldn't have thought about before (like our bathroom closet or my toddler's clothes). They both agreed that home is the most important thing we have right now, and focusing on making spaces more useful or organized so that you don't drive each other bonkers is what we all need right now. Their one advice to parents is this: Tackle projects with realistic expectations for yourself and realistic expectations on how your children can maintain it.

Here are some recommended products for you to start organizing your life:

'The Home Edit Life' book

The Home Edit Life: The No-Guilt Guide to Owning What You Want and Organizing Everything

This will be basically your bible for keeping everything and everyone organized, so go ahead and start by ordering it now.

$17.10

Labels on everything

The Home Edit Kids' Labels

You must put a label on every box to keep you accountable for what goes in it, and to help you pull out the right one when you need it. This font is Clea's handwriting, so you can feel she wrote them just for you.

$6.99

Bins bins bins

The Home Edit Organizer Bins

Everything goes in its own bin. Everything. Trust me, it's truly satisfying.

$5.99

Alternative storage boxes 

YAMAZAKI  Favori Storage Box

You can get cute boxes from Yamazaki for toys or books that you want to display.

$33

Display clothes with a ladder

YAMAZAKI  Tower Leaning Ladder with Shelf

Great way to have what you use every single day neatly organized and easy to access.

$95

Keep your desk organized while you WFH

YAMAZAKI  Tosca Pen Stand

And by your desk I mean your kitchen table, or your toddler's room—wherever it is you are working from these days.

$22

A smart lock

Simplisafe Smart lock

Keys are so 2019. This smart lock will give you peace of mind that your family is protected, plus not carrying keys means one less thing to spray sanitizer on when you come home.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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When you ask any two mamas to share their experience with breastfeeding, you are bound to get very unique answers. That's because while the act of breastfeeding is both wonderful and natural, it also comes with a learning curve for both mothers and babies.

In some cases, breastfeeding won't be the right path for everyone. But with the right tools, resources and social support systems, we can make progress toward the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation to continue breastfeeding through the first year of a child's life. After all, breastfeeding helps nourish infants, protects them against illnesses, develops their immune systems and more. Not to mention that mothers who breastfeed experience reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

With National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this month, it's a great time for mamas (and expectant mamas!) to gather the supplies that will support their feeding journey—whether it looks like exclusively breastfeeding, pumping or combo-feeding.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Designed for regular use, this double electric breast pump allows mamas to customize the cycle and vacuum settings that work for them. The 100% SoftShape™ silicone shields on this pump form-fit to a wide range of breast shapes and sizes—which means more comfortable, more efficient pumping. And every pump comes with two complete Dr. Brown's Options+ bottles, giving you everything you need to go from pumping to feeding.

$159.99

Dr. Brown’s™ Breast Milk Collection Bottles

There's no need to cry over spilled milk—because it won't happen with these storage bottles! Make the pump-to-feeding transition simpler with Dr. Brown's Milk Collection Bottles. The bottles adapt to Dr. Brown's electric pumps to easily fill, seal and transport, and they work with Dr. Brown's bottle and nipple parts when your baby's ready to eat. (Meaning no risky pouring from one bottle to another. 🙌)

$9.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

With an extra-durable design and double zip seal, your breast milk will stay fresh and safe in the fridge or freezer until it's needed. Plus, the bags are easy to freeze flat and then store for up to six months, so your baby can continue drinking breast milk long after you are done nursing.

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump with Options+™ Bottle & Bag

Here's something they don't tell you about breastfeeding ahead of time: While feeding your baby on one side, the other breast may "let down" milk, too. With this one-piece Silicone Breast Pump, you don't have to let those precious drops go to waste. The flexible design makes pouring the milk into a bottle stress-free.

$14.99

Dr. Brown’s® Manual Breast Pump

No outlet in sight? No worries! With this powerful-yet-gentle Manual Breast Pump, you can get relief from engorgement, sneak in some quick midnight pumping or perform a full pumping session without any electricity needed. With Dr. Brown's 100% silicone SoftShape™ Shield, the hand-operated pump is as comfortable as it is easy to use. Complete with Dr. Brown's® Options+™ Anti-Colic Wide-Neck Bottle, a storage travel cap and cleaning brush, consider this the breastfeeding essential for any mama who has places to go.

$29.99

Options+™ Anti-Colic Baby Bottle

With the soft silicone nipple and natural flow design of these bottles, your baby can easily switch between breast and bottle. Clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to the vent, your baby can enjoy a happy tummy after feeding sessions—without as much spit-up, burping or gas! By mimicking the flow and feel of the breast, these bottles help support your breastfeeding experience.

$7.99

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

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7 hacks for simplifying after-school snacks

Prepping delicious and nutritious foods shouldn't take all day.

When you're in the middle of the school year and managing a family, each minute of time becomes very precious. Sometimes that means healthy food choices in the household can take a backseat. But don't stress it, mama. Prepping delicious and nutritious choices for the kids to munch on doesn't need to take all day.

Remember to keep it fun, simple and interactive! Here are tips for simplifying after-school snacks once and for all:

1. Prep snacks on Sunday

This simple trick can make the rest of the week a breeze. Tupperware is your friend here, you can even write different days of the week on each container to give the kids a little surprise every day. I really like storage with compartments for snack prep. Personally, I slice apples, carrots or cucumbers to pair with almond butter and hummus—all great to grab and go for when you're out all day and need some fresh variety.

2. When in doubt, go for fruit

Fruit is always a quick and easy option. I suggest blueberries, clementine oranges, apples, frozen grapes or even unsweetened apple sauce and dried fruit, like mixed fruit. It's fun to put together a fruit salad, too. Simply cut up all the fruit options and let the kids decide how they'd like to compile. Prepped fruit is also great to have on hand for smoothies, especially when it's been sitting in the fridge for a few days—throw it in the blender with some nut milk and voila.

3. Pair snacks with a dip

Hummus is a great dip to keep on hand with lots of versatility or you can grab a yogurt-based dip. Easy and healthy dippers include pre-sliced veggies, baby carrots and multigrain tortilla chips. Plain hummus is a great way to introduce seasonings and spices too—shake a little turmeric, add fresh basil and you'd be surprised what your kids will take to.

4. Have high-protein options readily available

Snacks with high protein, like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs and jerky will fuel kids for hours. One of my favorites is a turkey stick, which is a fun addition to the hummus platter. Just slice into bite-sized pieces. I love cottage cheese because it can go savory or sweet, use as a dip with your prepped veggies, or drizzle pure maple syrup and sprinkle with berries.

5. Always keep the pantry stocked

Monthly deliveries keeps the pantry updated without a trip to grocery store. Many kids are big fans of popcorn, granola and pretzels. We like to DIY our own snack packs with a little popcorn, pretzels, nuts and whatever else is in the pantry so there's always something different!

6. Make cracker tartines

I love the idea of replicating popular restaurant dishes for kids. Here are some of my favorite snack-sized tartines using any crisp bread, or favorite flat cracker of your choice as the base. There are no rules and kids love adding toppings and finding new combinations they love.

  • Avocado crackers: Use a cracker and then layer with thinly sliced avocado, a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese topped with roasted pepitas or sunflower seeds.
  • Tacos: The base for this is a black bean spread—just drain a can of black beans, rinse and place into a wide bowl. With a fork or potato masher, lightly smush the beans until chunky. Spread onto your cracker and top with tomato, cheddar cheese and black olives. Try out a dollop of super mild salsa or some lime zest to introduce some new flavor profiles.
  • A play on PB&J: Smear peanut butter, almond or a favorite sun butter on the cracker. I like to get a mix it up a bit and put fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries and tiny diced apples) and a little bit of dried fruit sprinkled on top.

7. Pre-make smoothie pops

The easy part about meal prep is the prep itself, but knowing exactly how much to make ahead is tricky. Freeze a smoothie in popsicle molds to have a healthy treat ready-to-go snack. They're super simple to make: Add any fruit (I like apples, berries, pineapples and mangoes) and veggies (carrots, steamed beet and wilted kale) to a blender with your favorite nut milk until you have consistency just a bit thinner than a smoothie. Pour into your trusty reusable popsicle molds and then into the freezer to make an ice pop so good they could eat them for breakfast.

Family Foodies

15 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Stomp Racers

As longtime fans of Stomp Rockets, we're pretty excited about their latest launch–Stomp Racers. Honestly, the thrill of sending things flying through the air never gets old. Parents and kids alike can spend hours launching these kid-powered cars which take off via a stompable pad and hose.

$19.99

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

$139

Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Sand play set

B. toys Wagon & Beach Playset - Wavy-Wagon Red

For the littlest ones, it's easy to keep it simple. Take their sand box toys and use them in the bath! This 12-piece set includes a variety of scoops, molds and sifters that can all be stored in sweet little wagon.

$17.95

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$19.95

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$79.99

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$24.75

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Even 5 hours of screen time per day is OK for school-aged kids, says new study

Researchers found screen time contributes to stronger peer relationships and had no effect on depression and anxiety. So maybe it isn't as bad as we thought?

MoMo Productions/Getty Images

If you've internalized some parental guilt about your own child's screen time usage, you're not alone. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to significant amounts of screen time in children leads to an increased risk of depression and behavioral issues, poor sleep and obesity, among other outcomes. Knowing all this can mean you're swallowing a big gulp of guilt every time you unlock the iPad or turn on the TV for your kiddo.

But is screen time really that bad? New research says maybe not. A study published in September 2021 of 12,000 9- and 10-year-olds found that even when school-aged kids spend up to 5 hours per day on screens (watching TV, texting or playing video games), it doesn't appear to be that harmful to their mental health.

Researchers found no association between screen usage and depression or anxiety in children at this age.

In fact, kids who had more access to screen time tended to have more friends and stronger peer relationships, most likely thanks to the social nature of video gaming, social media and texting.


The correlations between screen time and children's health

But those big social benefits come with a caveat. The researchers also noted that kids who used screens more frequently were in fact more likely to have attention problems, impacted sleep, poorer academic performance and were more likely to show aggressive behavior.

Without a randomized controlled trial, it's hard to nail down these effects as being caused directly by screens. The study's authors analyzed data from a nationwide study known as the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study), the largest long-term study of brain development and children's health in the country. They relied on self-reported levels of screen time from both children and adults (it's funny to note that those reported numbers differed slightly depending on who was asked… ).

It's important to remember that these outcomes are just correlations—not causations. "We can't say screen time causes the symptoms; instead, maybe more aggressive children are given screen devices as an attempt to distract them and calm their behavior," says Katie Paulich, lead author of the study and a PhD student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. Also worth noting is that a child's socioeconomic status has a 2.5-times-bigger impact on behavior than screens.

Weighing the benefits with the risks will be up to you as the parent, who knows your child best. And because we live in a digital world, screens are here to stay, meaning parents often have little choice in the matter. It's impossible to say whether recreational screen time is fully "good" or "bad" for kids. It's maybe both.

"When looking at the strength of the correlations, we see only very modest associations," says Paulich. "That is, any association between screen time and the various outcomes, whether good or bad, is so small it's unlikely to be important at a clinical level." It's all just part of the overall picture.

A novel look at screen time in adolescents

The researchers cite a lack of studies examining the relationship between screen time and health outcomes in this specific early-adolescence age group, which is one of the reasons why this study is so groundbreaking. The findings don't apply to younger children—or older adolescents, who may be starting to go through puberty.

Screen time guidelines do exist for toddlers up to older kids, but up to 1.5 hours per day seems unattainable for many young adolescents, who often have their own smartphones and laptops, or at least regular access to one.

Of course, more research is needed, but that's where this study can be helpful. The ABCD study will follow the 12,000 participants for another 10 years, following up with annual check-ins. It'll be interesting to see how the findings change over time: Will depression and anxiety as a result of screen time be more prevalent as kids age? We'll have to wait and see.

The bottom line? Parents should still be the gatekeepers of their child's screen time in terms of access and age-appropriateness, but, "our early research suggests lengthy time on screen is not likely to yield dire consequences," says Paulich.

Children's health

Mom and gorilla bond over their babies at the zoo: ‘It was so beautiful’

The new mothers shared a special moment at a Boston zoo.

Franklin Park Zoo/YouTube

Motherhood knows no bounds.

When Kiki the gorilla spotted a new mom and baby visiting her habitat at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, she immediately took a liking to the pair. Emmelina Austin held her five-week-old son Canyon to the glass so Kiki could get a better look.

The gorilla spent nearly five minutes happily pointing and staring at baby Canyon.


Emmelina's husband captured the sweet moment on his phone, in a video that's now gone viral.

Mother shares unique maternal bond with gorilla (FULL VIDEO) www.youtube.com

Why was Kiki so interested in her tiny visitor? Possibly because Kiki's a new mom herself. Her fifth baby, Pablo, was born in October.

Near the end of the video, Kiki scooped up Pablo and held him close. The new moms held their baby boys to the glass and shared a special moment together: just a couple of mothers, showing off their little ones.

"When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could've imagined that we would have had that experience," Austin told ABC News. "It was so beautiful, and we walked out just over the moon."

We can't get enough of the sweet exchange. There's something special about sharing your little one with the world. Mothers of all ages, races–and it turns out, species–understand.

Our favorite viral mama + kid videos