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With baby girl #2 due to make her arrival on April 12th, I’ve been busy adding the finishing touch to her nursery, washing all her pretty pink clothes and organizing the older kids belongings so that grandma and grandpa know exactly where everything is. One of the questions I get asked the most about parenting 6, almost 7 kids soon, is how I keep it all together. It certainly takes a whole village to raise them, but when it is just me and the kids I heavily rely on a routine. I wasn’t always that way with my older kids, but as my crew became bigger, and my work load a little busier, I realized that a routine was essential in making sure things go smoothly for me and the kids. Scroll down for tips on establishing five ways to create an enjoyable bedtime routine right from the start.

A solid bedtime routine for me is essential and only works if the kids entire days schedule is on point but I’m realistic in knowing that that is not always easy to maintain. However, I’ve found that as long as you can at the very least stick to it on most days, you’ll be fine and on days that you can’t, simply try to use their favorite items of choice to create the same environment. Since I’m in total nesting/baby mode, I decided to share my top five ways to create an enjoyable bedtime routine right from the start.

1. Pick a bedtime that works for you and your baby. Everyone has their ideal bedtime, but for me it’s whatever works for YOU. I remember when I worked retail for many years and my boys bedtime was always on the late side. That worked because I got to spend more time with them and we all got to sleep in a little later. Now that I work from home, their bedtime is much earlier, giving me and my husband some much needed time to ourselves. Push aside all the advice and do what works for you!

ive ways to create an enjoyable bedtime routine right from the start

2.***Whether you’re breast feeding or bottle feeding, finding the right bottle is the most important part of any bedtime routine when your baby is born. I’ve tried dozens of bottles but I always went back to what worked best for all of my kids;Playtex Baby Nurser® with Drop-Ins® Liners! As babies feed, the soft disposable liner inside the bottle gently collapses (like the breast does naturally when breastfeeding) to prevent air from mixing with the milk and getting into baby’s tummy. Another plus: I’ve bottle fed and breast fed with all of my kids and the Most Like Mom® NaturaLatch® Nipple has a natural wide shape and a raised texture which helps the baby latch on naturally, promoting easy switching between breast and bottle. It’s priceless!

ive ways to create an enjoyable bedtime routine right from the start

The liners (my favorite part) are pre-formed, pre-sterilized and are easy to use. Simply match the liner size (4oz or 8oz) to the size of your bottle, place liner into Nurser bottle and fill it with milk or formula. You can recycle and use again or discard after each use. Either way, they’re super convenient to take along with you in a baby bag on the go. The air-free feeding that the Playtex Baby Nurser® provides help to reduce colic in breast and bottle fed babies, and I couldn’t praise these bottles enough, they really do work and it’s the biggest reason I just bought them again for my seventh baby! FYI: Playtex also makes the equally amazing VentAire that we’ve also used and they too provide complete tummy comfort.

ive ways to create an enjoyable bedtime routine right from the start
3. Make bedtime something they look forward to. Include a book, song or playing with a stuffed animal. This can be applied as soon as the first night you get home with the baby. The sooner, the better! Your baby will recognize and look forward to the routine you create for them. Each one of my kids liked the whole package so we started with a bath, followed by having them select which stuffed animal they’d like to be cuddling up to that night while we read. To include older kids and babies: simply bring along their feeding pillow and blanket so you can prop them up. Also make sure to include them in the bedtime routine with their siblings. The idea is to do the same thing every night at the same time to ease the all too common bedtime meltdowns.

ive ways to create an enjoyable bedtime routine right from the start
4. Save the last bottle for bedtime. It’s the perfect time to cuddle and that last bottle can be the start of your very first nightly routine. Just make sure to lay the baby down before they’re completely asleep so that you don’t disturb them as you lay them down and they learn how to put themselves to sleep.

ive ways to create an enjoyable bedtime routine right from the start
5. Keep an extra binky nearby. If you have a binky using baby, keeping a spare on the nightstand can be a lifesaver! There have been nights where I find myself crawling all over the place looking for a binky, and the longer it takes you to find it, the more awake baby gets. It can make or break the rest of the night. Keep a stash and thank me later! During the day I use a paci clip and even keep them on for the first month or so where the baby isn’t able to move much. **Once baby can roll over and starts grabbing things utilize clips during the day to keep binky off the floor

There you have it! My top five ways to create an enjoyable bedtime routine right from the start! Looking to give Playtex Baby Nurser® with Drop-Ins® Liners a try or gift them to an expecting mom? Target now has a Cartwheel offer with 15% Off All Playtex Baby Bottles starting 4/2-4/8.

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with The College Board and DiMe Media. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

We have just about every age group right now at our house. I have a son who has a great job with the Board of Education, a teething princess who’s about to start walking and a high school senior who works full time and is about to graduate early with a high GPA (I had to throw that in there because I’m really impressed at how effortlessly he pulls everything off). Back when I was their age and looking into what college I wanted to attend, I was on my own and I was clueless as to how the process worked. To be honest, my focus wasn’t where it should’ve been. Although, it was for good reason. I  had Evan right after I graduated high school, so I was juggling a much heavier, cuter load than the average person my age. But if I had these three important tips for getting financial aid for college and the tools that are readily available now, I’m positive it would have been easier for me to navigate.

three important tips for getting financial aid for college

Evan (my oldest) and my dad.

three important tips for getting financial aid for college

Up next William (center) who graduates early this January.

Even though I made it out okay, and I have a job that I absolutely love, I don’t exactly want that sort of struggle for my kids. I learned that a little preparation goes a long way and seeing how focused my older boys are, I know we’re already a few steps ahead! There’s really no reason for any student not to seek any help! Did you know that most full-time college students will receive some type of financial aid? I sure didn’t, and it motivated us to really do our homework and learn everything we needed to. Below are three important tips for getting financial aid for college that we’ll be putting into action and hopefully help those who may have college-bound children as well.

  1. Get a jump start on filing your fafsa (you can apply online at fafsa.gov ) and other financial aid application that may also have early deadlines (some of these even require that you have filled out FAFSA first click here for a easy to follow instructions). **Keep in mind that you will need to create a FSA ID beforehand.
  2. Search and compare colleges using BigFuture.There you can find scholarships and really get a good understanding of financial aid (so crucial considering theres almost $184 billion in financial aid available), and really priotize and organize the entire application process.
  3. Download and put the helpful  CollgeGo mobile app to work! this app will guide students through every essential step in the long college application process (trust me its overwhelming, but manageable). It allows students to interact using fun games and videos and even has a search feature to help guide them through their journey.

• Family Action Plan_11th Grade Spanish
• Family Action Plan_12th Grade Spanish

FYI: College Board has also created Spanish language resources for parents and their families in order to help them plan for their children’s college.  

Take the first step. Complete the FAFSA today!