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Hello world: When is it okay to bring my newborn baby outside?

Being a good mother doesn’t mean hiding my daughter from the world, but rather helping her navigate it, together.

Hello world: When is it okay to bring my newborn baby outside?

I’ve never been afraid of an adventure, of challenging endeavors.


Or if I was daunted, I generally did it anyway. I’ve lived on four continents. I moved to New York City, CapeTown, and Stockholm without ever having visited these cities, and when I found myself stranded in Istanbul with no money, I found a job in a language I didn’t speak. Most recently, I moved to the west coast of Norway for work, where my partner and I decided to start a family.

My pregnancy was easy, and the birth, although intense and overwhelming, left me feeling powerful.

I share all of this to contrast with what happened after bringing my brand new baby girl home from the hospital.

I was terrified to bring my newborn baby outside.

Leaving the house felt both irresponsible as a parent and unimaginably daunting. And I found many, many reasons why I shouldn’t do it. The weather is terrible (it is winter in Norway after all...) and it’s too cold to take such a fragile little creature out. The stroller seems so bulky and unwieldy, the baby carrier doesn’t fit under my coat and she’s too small for it anyway. What if she’s too cold? What if she’s too hot? What if the carrier/blankets/rain cover smothers her? What if she starts crying on the street? What if she needs to breastfeed when we’re out in public?

What if, what if, what if...?!

Three weeks passed. I would plan to go outside, even tell my (amazing and supportive) partner my strategy for a walk or trip to the grocery store. And then it would rain, or she would be sleeping and I didn’t want to wake her, or she would be awake and I wanted to wait until she fell asleep.

I love our attic apartment; it’s cozy and sunlit, but it is also very, very small. When not staring at the gorgeous new human in my life, I would find myself standing by the window in the kitchen looking out over the rooftops of nearby houses.

In a single stroke, my life shrank from traveling the globe to traversing the path from the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen.

I moved to Norway from New York fairly recently, and so when my daughter was born, I had very few friends and no family nearby to visit me. I felt isolated. Getting out of the house was essential, but I just kept imagining all of the things that could potentially go wrong and would decide to put it off until tomorrow.

I felt foolish, cowardly and overprotective. This was not the kind of brave, powerful Mama I pictured myself being! But I kept hearing/reading/thinking “give it time,” and “you’re still recovering.” But as the weeks wore on, I became more entrenched, rather than less, and the fears about going outside loomed larger than ever in my imagination.

What if she catches the flu while we’re out? What if she ends up in the hospital? What if I slip while I’m holding her, or the stroller tips over? I finally confessed my fears during one of many (tearful) Skype sessions with my own Mama back home. An emotionally supportive and infinitely practical Midwesterner, she both soothed me with her words, gave me a pep-talk consisting of “just keep peckin’ at it”, and ordered a baby carrier for me as an early birthday present (with express delivery).

Bless her.

Even so, I couldn’t quite do it. Where would I go? I wore the carrier around the house for practice, and even picked out what clothes I would dress my daughter in to stay warm outside.

A few days later, on yet another Skype call, my mother told me to go outside. I promised her I would. And she said, “No, go outside right now. Just go outside. Just to the front step if that’s all you can do.” So I got dressed, got my baby dressed, put her in the carrier, put on a hat, winter coat, and gloves, and stepped out the front door.

I took a big breath of cold, fresh winter air, walked about 7 feet to the mailbox, checked the mail, and went back inside. Victory and relief!

I felt as though I had just finished the NYC marathon.

The next day we walked around the block. And the next, to a nearby park. And finally, all the way downtown for her first doctor appointment. And guess what? It rained, she cried, and I had to breastfeed her in public... and the world didn’t end.

I realized then that being a good mother doesn’t mean hiding inside and making sure my child never cries. It’s about being there for her when she does – not avoiding the tears that life will inevitably bring on, but helping to dry them both now and 20 years down the road.

It’s still daunting for me, it may always be, but being a Mama means I’ll step outside of my own comfort zone to be there for my daughter through the teething, skinned knees, first loves, and first heartaches.

Being a good mother doesn’t mean hiding her from the world, but rather showing her the world while I'm still here to help her navigate it. And so this week we have a coffee date, three art openings to attend next week, and trips to Oslo, Berlin and New York planned in the coming months.

The next problem: How to get somewhere on time?!

We’re working on it. . .

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In This Article

    Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

    Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

    Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

    In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

    Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

    Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

    Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

    Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

    After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

    With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

    We’re embracing off-season deals.

    With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

    Vacationing is a way to give back.

    If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

    Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

    While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

    This article was sponsored by Vrbo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall 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 outside-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.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden 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

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective 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

    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

    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

    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

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.

    Mama,

    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

    You are my everything.

    When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

    I trust you.

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