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Family

The Gen X 'stay at home mom' crisis is real, but what's the solution?

Some moms in their 40s feel like they were lied to about what their "resume gap" would mean.

mom with school-aged daughter

40-something moms who stayed home to be with their kids are finding themselves in uncharted waters.

A few generations ago, parents had pretty clearly defined roles, with the dad generally being the breadwinner and the mom being the homemaker/stay-at-home mother. Then women's rights movement came along, empowering women in the workplace, ushering in the era of two working parents and producing an entire generation of "latchkey kids."

Now those Gen X latchkey kids are parenting Gen Z, with the pendulum of working motherhood having swung somewhat to the middle. We were raised to believe we could be anything we dreamed of being and that we didn't have to choose between being a mom and having a career. Gen X also became mothers during the heyday of parenting self-help books that impressed upon us the importance of attachment and hands-on childrearing, as well as the era of super-scheduled kids, whose activities alone require a full-time manager.

As a result, those of us in our 40s have raised our kids straddling two worlds—the one where women can have all of the career success we desire and the one where we can choose to be stay-at-home moms who do all the things. At first, we were told we could have it all, but when the impossibility of that became clear, we were told, "Well, you can have it all, just not at the same time."

But as many moms are finding as their kids start leaving the nest, even that isn't the full truth.


A Facebook post by Karen Johnson, aka The 21st Century SAHM (short for "stay-at-home mom") nails the reality many stay-at-home moms in their 40s are facing as they find themselves floundering with the glaring gap in their resumes.

"This is for all the moms in their 40s who put their careers on hold to do the SAHM thing because you knew you couldn't do both—career you loved and motherhood—and do both WELL, so you picked, saying to yourself 'this is just for now and we'll see,'" Johnson wrote. "But now it's 15 years later and so much has changed in your career field that you know you can't go back. So really, when you 'took a break' all those years ago, you gave it up."

Johnson explained that yes, moms know they should be grateful for the time they've had with their kids. Most are. That's not the issue. Whether a woman chose to be a stay-at-home mom because she really wanted to or because childcare costs didn't work in the financial equation of the family, the transition out of it feels like completely uncharted waters.

"Okay, so you're looking for a 'career' with part-time hours and a 100% flexible schedule because you're still Mom-on-duty but you do have *just* enough hours during the day to reflect on the fact that you *do* have a college degree (maybe even 2) and although being a mom is the greatest and most important job in the world, you *might* actually want something more to your life than folding laundry and running hangry children to 900 events and remembering that they're all due for dental cleanings," she wrote.

Yup. The "default parent" role is real and weighted heavily toward moms as it is. For stay-at-home moms, it's 100% expected, and that doesn't suddenly end when it's time to start thinking about joining the workforce again.

And, of course, moms barely have time to try to figure all of this out. So, as Johnson says, "But for now, you cram yourself into the only pair of jeans you have right now that fit and find a t-shirt on the floor that isn't clean but isn't dirty and will pass for the 4 hours of mom-taxiing you're about to do and you tell yourself, 'I'll figure it out another day. Right now, I gotta get the kids to practice.'" Oof.

Johnson's entire post is worth a read, as it resonates with so many women at this stage of life. But just as telling are the comments from women who not only see themselves in Johnson's description but who feel like they were sold a bill of goods early in their motherhood. So many of us were led to believe that the skills and experiences of managing a family would be valued in the workplace simply because they should be and that the gap in their resume wouldn't matter.

"This hits hard. I am right there too. And all those volunteer hours & leadership positions people said would look good on my resume when I once again applied for jobs? Those people all lied. It means squat," wrote one person.

"Thank you! You spoke my heart. 42 this year, resigned from teaching almost 12 years ago, and never been more confused about my personal future, or exhausted in my present," shared another.

"I’ve never related to a post more in my life! THANK YOU. Your words perfectly summarize the loneliest, most important job in the world and how that perspective shifts in your 40s. It is confusingly beautiful," wrote another.

There is hope in the comments, too. Some moms have chosen to see their post-stay-at-home era as a fresh start to learn something new, which might lend some inspiration to others.

"I went back for my master’s degree at 47 years old. I’m now 50 in a new career I love and my husband is doing just fine pulling his weight with after school/carpool/dinner. Happy for the years I stayed home, happy with this new season too," shared one person.

"Yuuuup. I decided to go back to grad school at 45. It’s insane but every term I complete I’m like - omg I’m doing it! So don’t let sweaty out of shape bodies and carpool fatigue stop you. I take naps and write grad school papers and have meltdowns where I cry from the frustration of it all - but dammit I’m doing it!" wrote another.

One mom who is past this stage also offered some words of encouragement:

"So incredibly well written. I feel all these things and did throughout my 40s. Now I'm in my early '50s and I'm so glad I was able to stay home with my kids, but the guilt! The guilt of not using my education, the judgment of people who don't understand why someone would stay home with their kids, the social engineering... We just eat each other alive sometimes don't we? I wouldn't trade it for anything, but it is a very lonely road and one you always question. I can tell you that all three of my kids were so grateful to have a full-time parent. I might not have always been the best, but they were glad to always have someone to talk to if they needed it. It's hard to fill other people's buckets when your bucket isn't full, but the rewards do come back when the kids tell you thank you for everything that you've done. ❤️"

Being a mom is hard, period. Working moms have it hard, stay-at-home moms have it hard, moms who have managed to keep one foot in the career door and one foot in the home have it hard. There's a lot that society could do to support moms more no matter what path they choose (or find themselves on—it's not always a conscious choice), from providing paid maternity leave to greater flexibility with work schedules to retirement plans that account for time away from the workplace. Perhaps that would at least make the many choices moms have today feel more like freedom and less like choosing between a rock and a hard place.


This article originally appeared on 9.27.23

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Woman refuses to change seats for mom and kids

Traveling with preteens and teens is a breeze in comparison to traveling with little ones but as a parent you still want to sit near your kiddos in case they need you for anything. If you've traveled on an airline in the last several years, you know it's much cheaper to chose the basic seats in the main cabin.

There's nothing different about these particular seats other than the airline sort of randomly selects your seat and if you're traveling alone, that's really not a bad deal. The risk gets to be a little higher if you're traveling with a party that you'd like to keep together - like your children. One mom took the risk and banked on a stranger accommodating...that's not quite how it played out.


People sit in the wrong seats on planes all the time, usually because they read their ticket wrong or accidentally sit one row ahead. Takes no time to double check your ticket and move along, but when Tammy Nelson did a double take at her ticket after seeing the mom in her window seat, she realized she wasn't mistakenly staring at the wrong row.

This mom boarded the plane with her older children and had taken it upon herself to sit in the same row as her children, essentially commandeering a stranger's seat. Nelson assumed it was a mistake and informed the woman that the seat was in fact hers but the response she received was surprising.

"She said, 'Oh, you want to sit here?'," Nelson tells Good Morning America. "She said, 'Oh, well I just thought I could switch with you because these are my kids.'"

That's an interesting assumption when seats are assigned and many people, like Nelson, pay extra to have the seat they prefer. Now, there's no telling if funds were tight and this was an unplanned trip for the mom and kids which caused her to buy the more budget friendly tickets or if she was simply being frugal and was banking on the kindness of a stranger.

Either way, Nelson specifically paid for a window seat due to motion sickness and though she paid extra, she was willing to sit in the other row if that seat was also a window seat. But it turns out, it was a middle seat.

Surely there's someone out there that loves the middle seat. Maybe a cold natured person that enjoys the body heat of two strangers sitting uncomfortably close. Or perhaps someone that doesn't mind accidentally sleeping on an unsuspecting passenger's shoulder. But that person isn't Nelson, so when the middle seat was offered in exchange for her bought and paid for window seat, she politely but sternly declined.

@myconquering

Having had only 90 minutes of sleep the night before and knowing I had to give a presentation to 500 people, I desperately needed some sleep, so I did not agree to switch seats. 🤷‍♀️ Before anyone comes after me… the kids looked like they were about 11 and 15 years old. And the mom was in arms-reach of both of them from the middle seat in the row behind us. The mom proceeded to complain for at least 15 minutes to the person next to her loud enough for me to hear. But the woman actually defended me – several times. It was so kind and I appreciated it so much because I was feeling really guilty. 🤦‍♀️ ##airplaneseat##seatswitching##airplanekarens

Her refusal to give in to the mom's seemingly entitled request for Nelson's seat has resulted in parents and child-fee people cheering her on after she posted the details on her TikTok page, MyCONQUERing. The video has over 3.4 million views.

"Nope. If it's not an upgrade it's a sacrifice," a commenter writes.

"You did the RIGHT thing. Folks need to plan their travel together. Lack of planning on their part does not constitute an inconvenience on yours," one person says.

"I have 3 kids and have sat in different rows when they were passed toddler age. I agree, book your flight earlier," another writes.

"You were right. As a woman with 3 children, I always pay extra so we're sat together," another mom says.

Nelson is also a mom so she knows how important it is to sit next to kids on flights. But since airlines have made that a luxury, as the parent, you have to plan to pay extra or accept that you likely won't be seated next to your children. Hopefully in the future, this unnamed mom is seated next to her children or pays extra to make sure it happens. In the meantime, people continue to support Nelson standing her ground.

This article originally appeared on 7.28.23

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

'Dumb' things people say to moms sparks words of support

When people have children there is all sorts of unsolicited advice and comments that seems to just spring out of people's mouths. In most cases the people making the remarks are attempting to be helpful, but that doesn't mean that it actually is helpful. Sometimes what is meant to be a kind word comes out sounding more hurtful than helpful.

Jimmy Knowles recently uploaded a skit that humorously highlights some of the unsupportive things people say to moms. The man plays all the parts in the skit, alternating between different moms and their "helpful" commenters. The video opens up with a mom sounding overwhelmed about how hard some of the days are with the kids. Immediately someone rebuts, "just remember, you chose this when you had them."

Not helpful. It seems that sometimes people forget that moms are also humans who have bad days and a full range of emotions. But the next person who popped up to give out a little commentary wasn't much better. Each advisor seems to be worse than the last.


Moms were completely on board with the message in Knowles' video. Many shared their own experiences while others shared more helpful things people could say that are actually supportive.



"I’ve never heard someone say 'you can’t complain about your work, you accepted their offer. Be grateful.' Parenting is the only place this is the norm and it’s so delusional," one person writes.

"I am the middle of 5 sisters. I’m all about supporting moms. Helpful things to say: - I’ll take the kids to the bookstore for a couple hours. - When can I come help out with housework? - I made dinner. 350 for 30 minutes. Salad isn’t dressed. - I’ve got 3 hours and I’m all yours. What can I do? Kitchen cleanup? Walk the dog? Bathroom duty? Feed the kids lunch while you go for a walk? Help!! Do something. Words are cheap. Actions are love," someone shares.

"Here’s a great response- You work so hard honey. Thank you. Or from mom- you are such a good mom. I know it can be hard. How about you bring them over here and go have a date night or a quiet night at home," another says.

"We. Just. Need. Validation. Y’all," someone declares.

People aren't asking for much, just actual help either when they're feeling overwhelmed or before they reach the point of overwhelm. Validation and simply listening empathetically can go a long way.

via Rob Dance (used with permission).

CEO Rob Dance holds a list of things he's "sick" of hearing from his employees.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted workplaces worldwide, there has been a greater push for improved work-life balance and many companies are taking notice. The exciting thing is that when companies become more flexible, their employees become happier and more productive.

It’s a win-win for all involved.

Rob Dance, the CEO of ROCK, a technology consulting company in the UK, recently went viral for posting about his approach to work-life balance on Instagram. What, at first, appeared to be a CEO reprimanding his employees revealed a boss who knows how to get the best out of is team by treating them like adults.

The post was of Dance holding a whiteboard that reads:


Things I’m sick of hearing from my employees:

- Can I leave early today

- I’ll be late in the morning

- My child is sick, can I rush off

- I’ve got a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, is that okay

- I’m going to be late back from lunch, I’ve got some things to sort.

I don’t care.

I hired you for a job and I fully TRUST you to get it done.

I don’t need you to account for every single hour.

Times have changed, and the workplace is different these days.

People are sick of being treated like children.

All that should matter is that everyone is happy, and that the work gets done.


He also shared his advice for companies on how to treat their employees. “Treat your staff like adults. That’s it, that’s the big secret,” he wrote. “Give them autonomy. Respect that they have lives outside of work. Don’t gaslight them into being grateful for not being fired every day.” Because in the end, the only thing that matters is if they get the job done. “Output should always trump hours,” he concluded.

Upworthy contacted Dance, who explained why managers still hesitate to treat their employees like adults.

“Many bosses don't trust their employees and keep extremely close tabs on them because of past experiences and a desire for control. They might believe that micromanaging ensures productivity and prevents issues,” he told Upworthy. “Additionally, the pressure to meet business targets can drive bosses to monitor employees obsessively, thinking it will lead to better outcomes. This approach, however, only undermines trust and destroys morale in the workplace. It creates a toxic environment where employees feel undervalued and stressed, leading to higher turnover rates and decreased overall performance. Instead of fostering a culture of accountability and growth, this behavior only promotes fear and resentment.”



Dance says that technology has helped drive demand for improved work-life balance.

“Mobile technology definitely started to blur the lines between one’s professional and personal life, making it tough to switch off from work,” he told Upworthy. “As a millennial leader, I've always valued work-life harmony for my staff, helping them to achieve both flexibility and finding purpose in their work.”

The ROCK CEO also has advice for employees who’d like to gain their employer’s trust.

“Always deliver quality work and aim to meet or exceed expectations. Keep communication lines open by regularly updating your manager on your progress, challenges, and successes,” he told Upworthy. “Take the initiative to go beyond basic requirements, showing your willingness to contribute more. Act with integrity by always being honest and ethical. Seek honest feedback and make tangible improvements based on it, demonstrating your commitment to growth. Finally, a big one is building positive relationships with everyone you work with, as strong connections are what help to build real trust.”

A school street in Paris, France.

The people of Paris have made a bold move by transforming their city into one that puts kids first. Under the leadership of the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, the School Streets initiative has a mandate to transform 300 streets into pedestrian walkways that cater to families walking to and from schools by 2026.

"About 180 School streets have been redesigned and completely pedestrianized. The idea, of course, is to cut the through traffic to get people to go to school on foot, children and parents," Paul Lecroart, Senior urban planner for the Paris Metropolitan region, said in a video by Streetfilms.


Streetfilms produces short films that show how intelligent transportation design and policy can improve places to live, work, and play.

Paris School Streets: Safe for Children, Safe for Everyoneyoutu.be

"You're creating a totally different experience for the students. You're reducing traffic noise, you're reducing traffic pollution, and you're giving the children a play space and a gathering space at the beginning and end, in the middle of their school days," says Marcel Moran, PhD.

The new streets are adorned with greenery and fun, kid-friendly designs. Some have large, red storage sheds filled with toys and games for kids and their parents to play after school.

School Streets are created in two phases. In the first, they close the street to cars to see if it negatively affects traffic or causes problems for residents. Then, if it works out, the city does the proper planning and design to turn it from a road for cars to a school street by adding lush greenery and repaving it for pedestrians.

Residents sometimes hesitate to shut down the roads in front of their homes. But many enjoy the new transition to a place that encourages community. After the streets are repurposed, what was once a dangerous road now becomes a place where families congregate and kids can come and go as they please in an area designed to promote safety and mental health.

Health

Want to fall asleep faster? People share their favorite hacks for nodding off quickly.

These mental and physical tricks may help you drift into dreamland.

Want to fall asleep faster? Try these tricks.

Sleep is a biological imperative for every human being, so it doesn't seem like it should be a hard thing to do. For some people, however, falling asleep is a challenge, no matter how tired they are.

Experts have some advice for good sleep hygiene that helps lay the foundation for falling asleep, such as keeping a regular sleep schedule, following a consistent before-bed routine, dimming lights, avoiding screens late in the evening, getting sunlight early in the day and basic health habits like exercising, eating well and avoiding smoking.

That's all well and good, but what about when you're actually in bed with the lights off and simply can't fall asleep because your body is buzzing or your mind is racing?


That's where some simple tricks to help yourself drift off to sleep can help. Some tricks are physical and some are mental, so what sounds helpful may depend on what's preventing you from falling asleep. As with most things, different things work for different people, so it's worth experimenting with a few, but here are some hacks people on Reddit swear by to fall asleep quickly.

Listen to boring bedtime stories

"On Spotify there is a podcast called 'Nothing much happens: bedtime stories to help you sleep.' Each episode is around half an hour but the storyteller tells the story twice and the second time she tells it with a slower pace. I am really curious how she tells the story slower but I was never able to make it to the second half. Sometimes I try to focus and promise myself that I will remember the story when I wake up the next morning. However, I can't recall anything. Nothing much happens, so it's extremely boring and my brains shuts down pretty quickly."

"There's also one called 'I Can't Sleep' where the host reads random articles from the internet, mostly Wikipedia pages. His voice is super soothing and I rarely make it past the first 15 minutes or so of an episode."

"'Sleep with Me' podcast by Scooter. Same concept as what everyone else said. But wow! There’s a lot of sleep podcasts!!"

Make up your own bedtime story

"I used to have bad insomnia when I was younger, and the only thing that seemed to work for me was imagining a story. I would set the setting, the premise, the characters, and start coming up with it. Basically, I was kick starting the dreaming process. I'd be asleep within a few minutes."

"This has been my trick for years…I’m not even that creative, I’ve probably restarted the same 3 or 4 narratives hundreds of times, but never get anywhere close to the end."

"I scrolled and scrolled because I knew I'd find something like this. I create crazy ass stuff in my head. Sea levels rise 100 feet and I built a bunker and have to save people I know. Lead singer of a killer band. Qb of a team. I invented a machine that does all your daily grooming as you sleep. Just weird shit. Usually out in a few minutes."

Create an alphabet-based list

"Trying to find 5 names with each letter. I usually fall asleep by K or L."

"I do this with animals: aardvark, antelope, etc. I usually fall asleep by B or C."

"Similarly I pick a category. Countries, cities, street names, etc and run through the alphabet."

"This one is foolproof for me. Never gotten the whole way through the alphabet."

Imagine you're on a boat or in a hammock

"The boat technique. A military buddy told me about it when he was stationed in Mali. Imagine yourself in a small boat, on a stream running through a forest with the canopy above you and the sun shining through, or drifting on a lake under a starry sky. Let yourself drift."

"I figured out the boat one myself as a child, except it was a raft on very gentle waves. And the Scooby Gang were hanging out with me."

"I sometimes picture myself in a hammock in a rainforest, with various animals snuggling around and on top of me. I love animals, so this is meant to relax me and make me feel safe. I use a weighted blanket, so I try to picture different animals draped over my legs to justify the weight of the blanket."

"Picture yourself on a hammock hanging between two palms on a beach at night, focus on the waves and electricity enveloping your body from each palm."

Breathe—but very, very slowly

"Breathing. Slow deliberate breathing. Count the same for in and out. And for every breath out, try and relax your muscles. I just keep doing that. Works most of the time."

"Came to say this. Breathing exercises have changed my life <3 started doing them after losing my dad and depression wouldn’t let me sleep. I read about it, was like uh whatever bullshit, but I tried it, and then… I woke up the next morning?! Been doing them for 7 years now. Even my man is like how the F do you pass out in 10min?! Breathe in……. Breathe out…. Think about nothing but the breaths, feel the oxygen in your blood increasing, think about your veins running alllll up and down your body. How your muscles relax into the bed… the pillow is so soft… breathe in… breathe out."

"My hack is similar as in I take the deepest breath I possibly can, then hold it for as long as I can, then release it as slow as I can. I never needed more than 3 reps of this to fall asleep. The heart rate slows down and the brain quiets down pretty fast with this."

"I breathe super slow to 10 and then force my left arm to relax and not move from now on like I shut it down. Then I do the same with my right arm, then left leg and right left. Then I do the torso and then finally try to shut off my head. I heard Marines use a similar technique to fall asleep."

More specifically, the 4-7-8 breathing technique

"When I really need to sleep, I use the '4-7-8' breathing technique. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7, exhale for 8. Works like a charm most of the time"

"I swear by the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. Works like a charm! 😴"

"I use 4:7:8 breathing : inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds. Count at the speed you are comfortable, my understanding is that it's the ratio that's important, rather than the amount of time. This breathing pattern effects the oxygen levels in your brain in a way that brings you into parasympathetic activation (sometimes called 'rest and digest mode.')"

Tensing and relaxing your muscles (aka "progressive relaxation")

"Progressive relaxation. Tense your toes, breathe in for a 5 count, hold for 5, and then relax as you exhale. Then your calves, then your thighs, your butt, your core, etc."

"Focus on a muscle group. Be it feet, calves, thighs, and just work your way up. Flex your muscles as hard as possible, get that adrenaline going. And after a bit, relax. Slowly work your way up to your head and face. You can feel the waves of calm wash over each section once they relax."

"My dad taught me something similar. While reclined, imagine creating a wave with your body by gently imagining you are putting downward pressure on your sleeping place starting with your head, then shoulders, then back, then legs and then your feet. I sleep on my side so I go head, shoulders, hips, knees then feet."

Hopefully trying some of these tricks will help you find what works to help you fall asleep more easily and quickly. Sweet dreams, everyone!