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Don’t worry about whether the kids will remember your vacations—because you will

Of course the kids aren’t going to remember in infancy or as a toddler, but you will. You will remember the smiles on their faces...

Don’t worry about whether the kids will remember your vacations—because you will

So often I hear people justify their lack of family travel because their children are not old enough to remember the vacation. This reasoning is so perplexing to me. Who would travel based on another person’s memory?


Of course the kids aren’t going to remember in infancy or as a toddler, but you will. You will remember the smiles on their faces when they see all those colorful toys in the gift shop. You will remeber them dancing along to popular songs or their sweet waves as floats pass by during the sardine-packed parades.

Those are the stories you will recall and retell when your child is going off to college or getting married. The ones they will hear over and over again and smile at the memories.

As humans, our retelling of the past is what makes our future. Why not start as soon as we possibly can?

Is the fact that they “won’t remember” really a valid reason not to experience… life?

My parents would take me to Guatemala as a child. I don’t remember a lot of the trips, but I do know that when I went back as a young adult, I felt comfortable in my surroundings. I didn’t spend my time there discovering a new way of life. I spent the time having fun with my family. The familiarity of previously visiting when I was younger allowed me to do that. My grandfather passed away when I was an adult so I remember him more than my grandmother, but I still love looking at these pictures that we took together when I was my son’s age. I don’t remember being here in front of this volcano with him, but that’s not the point. The point is, I was there with my family, and I know I was happy.

One of the last trips I took with my grandmother, very soon before she died, was to Disney and SeaWorld. Again, I don’t remember this trip at all, but I have the pictures and the stories from my elders to know how much my grandmother loved us. Since my grandmother passed away unexpectedly, I didn’t grow up knowing her. What I do know is that we had this time together, time she could look back on for the remainder of her short life and now time I know my parents are grateful for. Now that I’m a parent, I can’t help but be inspired to do the same.

Last year, we took our then-2-year-old son to Disney alongside his great-grandmother (Nana), uncle, aunts and cousins. He got to ride some of the same rides his Nana and father rode together when my husband was his age. It warmed my heart and will forever be a memory that I will carry for my son. I’m sure now, a year later, he’s forgotten how much fun he had with everyone, but I haven’t.

You see, his great-grandmother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (although we knew her decline began before our trip to Disney). That trip was unintentionally timed in the most magical and serendipitous way—right before my son was old enough to remember it and right before his great-grandmother began to forget.

The magnitude of this is really almost breathtaking and makes me want to cry for them both. How did we get so lucky to have this moment to share with each other before big changes impacted our family forever?

What memory would have filled its place if we had chosen to stay at home because my son was too young to remember Disney?

Realistically speaking, many families do not have the means or opportunity to travel internationally or visit pricey theme parks. (Hot tip: children under 3 are admitted free at most amusement parks.) I understand this more than you know, but I’m talking beyond that. Yes, they are young but these forgettable moments are still changing them. They are significant, and they will shape your child and mold them into who they will be tomorrow. The memories we absorb as their parents are also as impactful as we have not finished learning our truths either.

So my question is, why wait on the memories of your children to travel?

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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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