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3 essential parenting habits to build confidence + self-love in your child

It first starts with how you treat yourself, mama.

3 essential parenting habits to build confidence + self-love in your child

I usually try to do something productive during my son’s long morning nap, but sometimes, if it’s been a rough night, I am just too tired.  Last week I was having one of those days and decided it was the perfect time to watch Finding Dory.  I love children’s movies and was way too excited when I saw that this was available on Netflix.


I absolutely loved the movie, but one line has really stuck in my mind for some reason: “Don’t be such a Dory, Dory.” The main character says this to herself when she is frustrated by her inability to remember something.

Maybe it was just my sleep deprivation, but this line made me so sad and really got me thinking about the importance of cultivating confidence and self-love.

Here are three things I’m trying to do to help my son develop a positive self-image:


Model positive self-talk

I see my son watching me constantly, and know that he is taking in everything around him.  What an awesome and terrifying responsibility to be someone’s role model for how to be in the world.

With this in mind, I’ve been trying to be intentional with how I talk about myself.  I admit this feels a bit silly sometimes. For example, I might say to him, “I’m proud of myself for running this morning when I felt really tired.  I feel so strong now.”

Negative self-talk is so prevalent in our society, and I want to show him that it’s okay—even great—to feel proud of himself and to be confident.

Along similar lines, I try to mention when I’ve failed at something, or made a mistake, and state that it’s okay.  For example, “Whoops, I left too late for story hour and now we’re late.  That’s okay, I’m sure they’ll still be happy to see us.  We’ll just leave earlier next time.”  I personally have a huge fear of failure, which has definitely held me back from trying new things at times.

I want to do what I can to show my son that mistakes are a part of life and the important thing to do is to learn from them.

I also absolutely love a music company called Growing Sound.  Their goal is to spread positive self-talk in children through song. I loved using their songs in the classroom when I taught, and I love playing them and singing them for my son. (It’s definitely worth it to buy their CDs, but you can also stream for free all of their music online, which is pretty amazing.)

They have a song called I Can Do It, and I actually heard one of the girls in my class singing it to herself when she was struggling with something one time—it was pretty incredible!


Praise effort to build a growth mindset

We talked a lot about growth mindset in my Montessori training, and we also used the concepts in the school where I taught.  I can't do this justice without making this a ten page post, but the basic idea is that it is important to praise effort rather than results.

This helps instill in children the belief that they can improve and the understanding that making mistakes is part of that improvement.

I have found this to be more difficult with my own son than it was in the classroom—I want to tell him he is wonderful and amazing all of the time! But I do try to focus on acknowledging his effort.

I tell him I see him working hard at learning to crawl and that he should be proud of himself.  I am obviously proud of him every day for ridiculously simple things, but I don’t want him to get the idea that he needs to do things to make me proud.


Avoid name shaming

A child’s name is a key part of his identity and should be protected to avoid having negative associations with his own name. To protect his name, you would avoid using it in a negative way or when correcting behavior. For example, I would try to say, “We walk in the grocery store,” instead of, “Stop running, James!” Honestly, this hasn’t come up yet, as my son is much too young to misbehave.  I do think it is important, though, and plan to try my best to avoid it as he grows.

I don’t know how much of a difference any of this makes at this point, but I do know that I am forming my parenting habits and language now, and that it will be easier to start these practices from the beginning than to change habits later on.

I want to do whatever I can to keep my son smiling when he sees his reflection in the mirror.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're 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 toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop 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.

$100

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

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

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

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.

$33

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.

$88

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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