5 ways to banish boredom for your toddler—and yourself, mama

Not all toddler boredom busters are created equal

Toddler boredom busters

My children's toddler years have been some of my favorite thus far. I loved watching both of my kids' personalities and interests develop. But that time period can also be an incredibly difficult one for parents as we try to figure out how to educate and entertain our kids, while also staying involved and interested ourselves.

There are many great typical toddler activities that are critically important for development, but I often found that those weren't the most interesting to me personally. Plus, baby yoga doesn't take all day!

As I share in my book, Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids That You'll Actually Enjoy, I've found that one of the best ways to help young kids develop their own interests is to actually start with activities that interest you as a parent. Then as you watch your kids develop their own ideas of fun, you can adapt accordingly.

Sure, I understand that one- and two-year-olds aren't just going to pipe up and tell you about their burgeoning interest in pop art, but these suggestions for activities should get you started!

Don't feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing.

Parents constantly feel pressure to compete and conform. Resist! Think about what you like to do and start doing them with your children. One of my favorite things to do is visit modern art museums and I found our kids really enjoyed going with me even as toddlers. Take a pack of crayons and some paper along and let them make their own art afterwards in the café or roam about a sculpture garden while you're getting your art fix.

Aim for a variety of activities to expose your child to different things.

Mix it up with activities both in and outside of the home, and get outside of your own comfort zone. I love art, but history is not high up on my list. However, I learned early on that I have two little history buffs, so I take them to all kinds of historical places, many of which have programs for even very young kids. And if not, it's another good place to let them practice those walking skills. Also, you just might learn something new yourself!

Keep things simple.

Toddlers have a limited attention span and behavioral needs that usually require smaller scale activities. If you plan something elaborate, chances are you'll be disappointed. I favored very basic art projects when my kids were toddlers—set them up to have fun and explore with something like finger-painting or basic printmaking with paint.

Don't underestimate them.

Be realistic, but see what happens when you stretch your kiddos a little. I love to do outdoor activities with my kids. And while they couldn't tackle a huge hike in the woods, they could certainly handle a paved looped trail close to a nature center. Give it a try!

Balance being engaged with encouraging independent activities.

You do not always have to be on, mama. Toddlers learn valuable lessons from small periods of independent play time. Prioritize safety and oversee them, but don't feel obligated to actively entertain them 24/7.

I loved to set my kids up in a highchair with a few containers of colored water they could mix and play with. It gave them the confidence to entertain themselves and gave me the time to make my 500th cup of coffee for the day. ☕

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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Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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