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

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.