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'Start early' and 15 other ways I made bedtime my family's favorite part of our day.

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Healthy Essentials

As many parents know, preparing the kids for bed can be the best part of a parent’s day — or the most challenging.

As a mom who had three sons in four and a half years, I had to have a nighttime routine when the boys were little. At first, the tedious process of helping three young boys get ready for bed stressed me out. Who didn’t brush their teeth yet? Who can’t find his teddy bear? Who needs a cup of water at the exact moment when I finally sit down after they’re all tucked in?

Image via iStock.


Getting my sons to do all the things they needed to do was harder than herding cattle until I learned to make the best of it. Adding a ritual that had plenty of room for learning, bonding, fun, and error made bedtime the best part of our day. But we also didn't do the same thing every night because that would have made it predictable and boring and therefore more difficult to get them to cooperate.

For us, getting ready for bed became a time that enhanced the boys' sibling bond: helping each other find their favorite stuffed animals. Making sure they put their favorite toys away so they could grab them first thing in the morning. Sharing one good thing that happened that day and one thing they hoped would happen the next day. Sometimes they had realistic hopes, like "I hope we finger-paint at school," and sometimes it was "I hope the Polar Express comes to our house!"

Image by Tina Plantamura, used with permission.

It became a time for them to learn how to care for each other, to share stories of their day and their hopes for the next day, to create good hygiene habits (!), to laugh with each other — all things I hoped they'd carry into their teenage years and beyond.

But the biggest learning may have been mine: to enjoy these tender moments of childhood and trust, which help sweet little boys become loving young men.

In the hopes that it will be helpful to other families, here are 15 ways we made getting ready for bed something to look forward to:

Hint: Start early! I learned early on, what could possibly go wrong when putting three boys to bed? (Answer: everything!) Starting early makes time for mishaps and unexpected setbacks and surprises.

1. Bedtime starts at dinner time!

At the table, in the car at a drive-through (yes, you can still be an amazing parent while resorting to fast food), or in front of the TV, dinner time is wind-down time. We did our best to keep noise and excitement to a minimum.

2. Next up: bath time. Or quick shower time?

Three in the tub can be a project in itself. Tub time is full of lessons in taking turns. Who sits near the faucet? Who turns it off? Who washes the baby’s hair with JOHNSON'S® Baby Shampoo?

Image by Tina Plantamura, used with permission.

When we got home later than planned after visiting grandma’s house, sometimes the bath would become a quick shower instead. My boys always loved a long bath, but there isn’t always time for the tub and JOHNSON'S® Baby Bubble Bath.

3. Unless it’s too late for a bath or a shower.

Washing three sets of hands and three faces in the sink one after the other can take nearly as long as a bath sometimes. A quick wipe-down with JOHNSON'S® HEAD-TO-TOE® baby cleansing cloths can do the trick on those nights when the kids are tired and cranky after a long, fun day.

4. Towel time! (And pajamas and diapers and pull-ups and underwear.)

Getting three giggly boys dry and dressed was easier when they all helped each other. Each took turns putting the towels away and getting what the others needed.

5. Toothbrush time!

Photo via iStock.

Three kids means three different skill and patience levels with brushing teeth. If each one teaches the other a little (here are some tips and tricks they can use), it helps take the pressure off the parent who has to be the tooth-brushing police.

6. Last call!

...for water and sippy cups. As each child got old enough, they took turns getting the last call drinks of water or filling sippy cups for their brothers.

7. Put favorite toys to “sleep.”

Image via iStock.

That tiny wooden train and that favorite action figure can get lost in bed pretty easily. So they each had special places to sleep, and each child said goodnight to them.

8. Get in one bed. Whose bed?

We always snuggled up in one bed all together for a little while. Each child felt special when it was their turn to be the "host" on their bed.

9. Pick a story.

Photo via iStock.

Each night, a different child got to choose a story. Often, they requested the same story night after night until we all had it memorized.

10. If that drives you crazy, make up a story.

We took turns and made up stories together — one would begin the story and say “pass,” then another would develop the story for a couple of minutes and say "pass," then the next would add more to the story. Sometimes these stories were worthy of retelling night after night as well!

11. Remember why we started early?

An unexpected phone call? A legitimate bathroom break? An “I forgot I need to bring ____ to school tomorrow!” A stumble and fall that requires cuddles, a healing kiss, and a BAND-AID® Bandage? We have time for that!

12. Share your heart!

Image via iStock.

We each took a turn sharing one good thing that happened today.

13. Share your hope!

We each shared one thing we hoped would happen tomorrow. Small hopes: chocolate milk with breakfast, a sunny day. High hopes: a trip to Disney, a ride on a pirate ship. It’s important to dream big.

14. Hugs and kisses!

Before you know it, kids will be using their final moments before bed to talk to friends on the phone, to get homework done, or to read and study. Hug and kiss them right before the lights go out while they still ask you to.

15. Lights out!

Image via iStock.

Whose turn is it to turn off the light? Whose turn is it to pick up the littlest one when it’s his turn to turn off the light?

Above all, don’t sweat it. The world won't come to an end if one or more of these doesn’t happen once in a while!

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

Health

Neuroscience learns what Buddhism has known for ages: There is no constant self

Buddhist Monks have known for thousands of years what science is just now learning: the mind can be changed by training it.

Ven. Thich Thong Hai prays by a statue of Buddha in the garden at the Ventura Buddhist Center.

Proving that science and religion can, in fact, overlap, University of British Columbia researcher Evan Thompson has confirmed the Buddhist teaching of the not-self, or "anatta," is more than just a theory.

"Buddhists argue that nothing is constant, everything changes through time, you have a constantly changing stream of consciousness," he tells Quartz. "And from a neuroscience perspective, the brain and body is constantly in flux. There's nothing that corresponds to the sense that there's an unchanging self."


This reality that nothing stays the same should be liberating, because if people believe it, they'll no longer define themselves by their thoughts or be limited by a fixed idea of who they are. Their possibilities will be endless.

Buddhist Monks have known for thousands of years what science is just now learning: the mind can be changed by training it. Neuroplasticity, as it's called, endows people with the ability to grow and evolve, triumphing over bad habits and becoming more like the individuals they want to be.

Buddha, religion, self awareness, evolution, enlightenment

Buddha GIF

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Still, exactly how consciousness relates to the brain eludes both Buddhism and neuroscience. Buddhists suppose there's an iteration of consciousness that doesn't require a physical body; neuroscientists disagree.

"In neuroscience, you'll often come across people who say the self is an illusion created by the brain," Thompson says. "My view is that the brain and the body work together in the context of our physical environment to create a sense of self. And it's misguided to say that just because it's a construction, it's an illusion."


This article originally appeared on 09.23.17

Images provided by P&G

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

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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.

A woman is sad after getting charged a huge junk fee.

Just about everyone has had the depressing experience of sitting through a long queue to get concert tickets, only to find when they were ready to check out, the price was 30 to 40% higher because of service fees added by the ticketing company.

People often have the same experience when ordering food through an app, only to see a massive service fee applied right before they're ready to place their order.

These service fees, known by many as “junk fees,” are popping up everywhere these days, from surprise resort fees charged when checking out of a hotel to a 4% surcharge on a dinner bill that the restaurant added so you can help pay for their employees' healthcare.


The good news for people in California is that a new bill will go into effect on July 1st that bans hidden or unexpected fees on everything from concert tickets to cruise packages. Senate Bill 478 (SB 478) makes it illegal for businesses to advertise or list a price for a good or service that does not include all required fees or charges other than certain government taxes and shipping costs.

“Our price transparency law is about clear and honest communication with consumers so consumers can make the financial choices that are best for them and their families. This new guidance provides information for businesses across California to ensure that clear answers are available, particularly for small businesses,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “The law is simple: the price you see is the price you pay. Laws work when everyone can comply. I am pleased that we can offer this guidance to help facilitate compliance with the law and make a more fair and level marketplace for businesses and consumers."

A 2023 survey of Americans found that 2 out of 3 said they were paying more in surprise charges now than they had five years earlier.

The bill is good news for consumers who want to make thoughtful decisions about how they spend their money, especially when inflation has made it a lot harder to stretch a dollar. However, the bill probably won’t make things any cheaper. Businesses most likely won’t stop charging these hidden fees; instead, they will be rolled into the listed price instead of popping up out of nowhere right before you hit the “pay now” button.

State Senator Bill Dodd from Napa, the bill's co-author, stated its goals: “A consumer shouldn’t discover hidden fees made up by a business when they pay their bill.”

As the old saying goes, “As goes California, so goes the nation,” and when companies are forced to alter their pricing and marketing in America's most populous state, it’s bound to create changes for consumers across the country. The new law could be the first shot in a larger war against junk fees.

In 2023, President Biden called out Ticketmaster and others who charge "junk fees" in his State of the Union address, claiming he’ll get “rid of junk fees, those hidden fees at the end of your bill that are there without your knowledge.” In his 2022 State of the Union speech, Biden criticized the hotel industry for surprise fees at checkout. "We’ll ban surprise ‘resort fees’ that hotels tack on to your bill. These fees can cost you up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts,” Biden said.

This Federal pressure led several companies, including Live Nation, SeatGeek, xBk, Airbnb, the Pablo Center at the Confluence, TickPick, DICE and the Newport Festivals Foundation, to make their pricing more transparent.


All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.


You know how a picture is worth a thousand words? I'll just let these images sum up the daddy-daughter bond.

A 37-year-old Ukrainian artist affectionately known as Soosh, recently created some ridiculously heartwarming illustrations of the bond between a dad and his daughter, and put them on her Instagram feed. Sadly, her father wasn't involved in her life when she was a kid. But she wants to be sure her 9-year-old son doesn't follow in those footsteps.

"Part of the education for my kiddo who I want to grow up to be a good man is to understand what it's like to be one," Soosh told Upworthy.

There are so many different ways that fathers demonstrate their love for their little girls, and Soosh pretty much nails all of them.

Get ready to run the full gamut of the feels.

1. Dads can do it all. Including hair.

relationships, fathers, dads

I’ve got this.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

2. They also make pretty great game opponents.

daughters, daughter, father

Sharing life strategy.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

3. And the Hula-Hoop skills? Legendary.

bonding, dad, child

Tight fitting hula-hoop.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

4. Dads know there's always time for a tea party regardless of the mountain of work in front of them.

family bond, parent, child-bond

Dad makes time.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

5. And their puppeteer skills totally belong on Broadway.

love, guidance, play

Let’s play.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

6. Dads help us see the world from different views.

sociology, psychology,  world views

Good shoulders.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

7. So much so that we never want them to leave.

travel, inspiration, guidance

More dad time please.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

8. They can make us feel protected, valued, and loved.

protectors, responsibilities, home

Always the protector.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

9. Especially when there are monsters hiding in places they shouldn't.

superhero, monsters, sleeping

Dad is superman.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

daddy-daughter bond, leadership, kids

Never a big enough bed.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

Seeing the daddy-daughter bond as art perfectly shows how beautiful fatherhood can be.


This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


Categories are great for some things: biology, herbs, and spices, for example.

Image via

But bodies? Well, putting bodies into categories just gets weird. There are around 300 million people in America, but only 12 or so standard sizes for clothing: extra-extra-small through 5x.


That's why designer Mallorie Dunn is onto something with her belief — people have different bodies and sizing isn't catching up.

Dunn has found that the majority of clothing sizes stop at an extra-large, yet the majority of women in America are over that. "And that just doesn't make sense," she says.

All images via Smart Glamor, used with permission.

Human spice rack, only, a LOT more variations of flava. ;)



That's why she started a project around her clothing label, Smart Glamour, to document the bodies of models according to their sizes — and to show how one size can look very different on different bodies.

In pursuit of creating a fashion environment that's kinder to all bodies, Dunn has dedicated herself to educating consumers about sizing.

First, she found 60 people of 12 different sizes and took their pictures.

Then, she put five women at a time in the same size of skirt and shirt to show how diversely beautiful human bodies are and to prove that everyone looks different in clothes no matter what size they have on.

She hoped to show people that 12 sizes don't even come close to capturing the beauty of the human form.

All these models are wearing the same size ... but do they look the same?

"No matter what size you are that's not what dictates your worth or your beauty."

"I had a convo with a friend of mine who was like 'Yeah, if I went from a medium to a large, I'd be fine with it, but if I went from a large to an extra-large, that wouldn't be OK' and I was like, 'Why???' And she had no rational reason behind that," Dunn said, describing a conversation we've all either had, started, or heard. "We've been taught forever that the bigger something sounds, the worse that it is."

Dunn's project also shows just how arbitrary and narrow-minded clothing sizes are.

Sizes really are just numbers.

Unlike the images we are presented both in clothing ads and in entertainment and media, human beings aren't, as Dunn remarked, "robots who come out on a conveyor belt ... we're all shaped differently."

The pressure to look one way is obnoxious. And kinda dangerous.

"We've been taught forever that the bigger something sounds, the worse that it is."

There's so much weight — no pun intended — on being the "right" size.

"You put an 'extra' on top of a 'large,' and suddenly it's the end of the world," Dunn said of her experience in fashion sizing. "... And it really doesn't mean anything, it really only means that there's an extra inch of fabric."

One extra inch of fabric.

3 in 4 girls report feeling depressed, guilty, or shameful after just three minutes of leafing through a fashion mag.

But I'd like to imagine a world where everyone can try on clothes and leave the emotional burden of worrying about fit to the clothes.

Instead, let's focus on what looks good on our bodies. Let the clothes handle the emotional roller coaster of not fitting, and you just live your life in the body you've been given.

Dunn, who has worked for fashion houses for her whole career, puts it bluntly: "Clothes are not made for all bodies. ... We shouldn't then think when something doesn't fit us that it's somehow our fault."

Dunn's models also have a group on Facebook where they support each other, compliment each other, and generally lift each other up. Model Stephanie describes it this way: "We see the beauty in one another and help each other to recognize our own beauty at the same time." Fashion leading to body optimism and confidence? Yes, please.

And Dunn herself drives a hard line when it comes to feeling good in the skin you've been given. Her philosophy is this: No matter what size you are, that's not what dictates your worth or your beauty.

Self-worth not based on appearances. That's a category we can all aspire to "fit" into!


This article originally appeared on 07.27.16

This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

Because you're a girl.

I was promoted a few weeks ago, which was great. I got a lot of nice notes from friends, family, customers, partners, and random strangers, which was exciting.

But it wasn't long until a note came in saying, “Everyone knows you got the position because you're a girl." In spite of having a great week at a great company with great people whom I love, that still stung, because it's not the first time I've heard it.


Every woman who works in tech — heck, likely every woman on Earth — hears “because you're a girl" dozens, if not thousands, of times in her life.

It starts young, of course:

Why can't I join that team? Because you're a girl.

Why can't I study physics? Because you're a girl.

Then, the comments age with you.

Why can't I manage that project? Because you're a girl.

Why can't I join that group? Because you're a girl.

And after you've reached any level of attainment in a profession you love, the comments are used to minimize your success.

Why did you get that award? Because you're a girl.

Why were you chosen to participate in that class? Because you're a girl.

Like so many women before me, I have shaken off the comment.

I've gotten angry. I've gotten sad. I've doubted myself and my abilities. I've ignored it entirely. I've challenged it. I've recruited support from men and women I respect. Yet every time it stays there in the back of my mind, screaming for attention after every failure or setback.

But today is the day I've decided to change that.

I did, in fact, get the job because I'm a girl.

A girl who was called "bossy" growing up.

A girl who wasn't afraid to play with the boys.

A girl who didn't hesitate to raise her hand if she knew the answer.

A girl who stood up for other kids.

A girl who was always the first one to volleyball practice and the last to leave.

A girl who was told she was too assertive and aggressive to advance in her career.

A girl who went to MIT anyway.

A girl who asked her company to do more on diversity and inclusion and won't stop pushing until it's truly remarkable.

A girl who has made big mistakes, both personal and professional.

A girl who swings for the fences even when no one is watching.

A girl who puts in hours when other people are asleep

A girl who tells young girls how smart and strong they are.

A girl who hates to lose.

And a girl who won't stand silently while people still use “because you're a girl" as any limitation for girls who want to grow, challenge the status quo, and be something, anything, greater than society tells them they could or should.

So yeah. I guess you could say I got my job because I'm a girl, but not for any of the reasons you might think.

This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.


This article originally appeared on 04.14.17