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As a Montessori teacher, I could never pick a favorite type of work in the classroom—but I must admit, I have a soft spot for "food prep" work. There is something magical about watching tiny people create their own culinary masterpieces with complete independence. Maybe it's the look of satisfaction on their faces or the way they offer to share their carefully prepared snack with a friend, but it's incredible to observe.

The best part is that this is something you can totally recreate at home. Children are naturally interested in preparing (and eating!) food so empowering them to help in the kitchen can be a wonderful first step in bringing Montessori into your home.

Creating a Montessori kitchen can sound daunting, but it can really be as simple or comprehensive as you like. Here are some easy ways to create an inspiring Montessori kitchen in your home.

1. Set up a workspace

Until your child is tall enough to reach the kitchen counter, they will need a work space. There are many ways to set this up, but the important thing is that it's comfortable for your child and they can access it by themselves.

Some Montessori families use a play kitchen (this site has beautiful options), but present it to your little as an actual workspace, rather than a toy for pretend play.

Another option is to use a child-size table in your kitchen area and let the kids do food prep work while sitting. The table should be small enough that they can get in and out of the chair independently.

Some Montessori families also use a learning tower or similar kitchen helper to helps kids work at the kitchen counter alongside the grownups. This works really well for smaller kitchens where a more elaborate child workspace may not be an option and is also useful for allowing you to work alongside your child to cook great meals together.

2. Implement child-sized tools

Providing your child with tools made just for their little hands will allow them to be both safe and competent in the kitchen. For Small Hands has a wonderful assortment of children's kitchen tools that you can pick out together. Some good ones to start with are a chopper, cutting board, vegetable scrub brush, spreading knife, small whisk, and mixing bowl.

Montessori classrooms also always have kids use an apron for food prep work. This keeps their clothes clean, but it also helps define the beginning and end of the work cycle. They'll put on an apron when they begin, and keep it on until they have completely cleaned up the work.

3. Clear out a low shelf or drawer for supplies

Encouraging independence and facilitating order are two guiding principles in any Montessori space. For a Montessori kitchen, this means giving your child access to the dishes and supplies they will need so clear out a low shelf or kitchen drawer.

Keeping their dishes within their reach will allow them to help set the table and help put clean dishes away. Similarly, keeping kitchen tools on a low shelf lets them complete the whole process independently from setting up to cleaning up.

Some families also choose to designate a refrigerator drawer for their child or include some shelf-stable snacks on their low shelf so they can choose a snack for themselves when they want.

4. Set up cleaning supplies

In a Montessori classroom, cleaning up and putting away a piece of work is just as important as the work itself. Children are expected to leave the work they use as they found it. The same goes for food prep—washing any dishes and tools used, folding aprons, and putting the work back on the shelf where they found it.

To be successful with this, children need you to show them how to clean up, and they need easy access to cleaning supplies that they're allowed to use.

The first time you present any skill, such as chopping fruit or spreading peanut butter, to your child, show them the complete process—where to find the supplies, how to carry them carefully to the workspace, how to do the work, and how to clean up.

Keep things like a sponge, a broom and dustpan, and small towels on the low shelf. Many young children take great pride in cleaning up after themselves when they are given the tools to do so freely.

While it can be hard, try not to jump in as soon as a spill is made. Watch and see what they do. If you ask them to wipe it up, they may resist, but if you just watch, they may do it of their own accord with satisfaction.

These four things are really all you need to set up a Montessori kitchen for your little one. Working in the kitchen is great for developing fine motor skills, independence, and concentration, and it can also be a wonderful bonding time for you and your child if you enjoy cooking.

As you begin, try to keep it simple. Introduce more skills as your child's abilities develop. Watch to see which parts of being in the kitchen they most enjoy. Do they love preparing snacks all by themselves? Do they prefer to bake alongside you? Each child is different and you can tailor your space to fit their unique wants and needs.

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

SHOP

Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

SHOP

Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

SHOP

Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

SHOP

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

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To the family who's just received a childhood cancer diagnosis,

I want you to know that I see you. All of you.

I am the nurse who admitted your child to the oncology unit to rule out "something serious."

You watched me draw your child's blood, and help them change into their first of so many hospital gowns, and lift them onto the stretcher so they could get their CAT scan.

You probably don't know that I had to steel myself in the bathroom for a minute before I could walk into your room to be with you as the doctor told you that it was, in fact, something serious.

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You probably didn't know I was even there. How would you? Time warped, your vision tunneled, your breath left your body, and finding a way to inhale it back in was close to impossible.

You probably didn't see me. But I saw you.

You watched as I hung the first bag of chemotherapy, and I gave your child medicine for the pain—and the nausea, and the itching, and the heartburn. You worried about side effects. You asked 100 questions but couldn't hear the answers. You stared at that bag of chemo, simultaneously hating it and willing it to work.

We stood together in the bathroom. Your child between us, all three of us looking into the mirror as together we shaved your child's head so that the hair loss wouldn't feel so dramatic.

I want you to know that while you were watching your child in that mirror, I was watching you.

I watched you choke back tears, and smile bravely at your baby, and tell them how cool they looked with a shaved head. And when your child went back to bed, and you scooped the trimmings into your hands and wept over them, I watched you then, too.

The truth is that I watch you a lot.

Because while of course, it is my job is to take care of your child, it is also my job to take care of all of you. Because the reality is that childhood cancer is a family diagnosis. The child is going through something really difficult. It's okay to acknowledge that you are too.

The parents. You want to absorb every part of this diagnosis so it becomes yours, and not your child's. You would give anything to take the pain away from them. Please hear me: You already hold mountains worth of angst, worry, pain. You make your child's burden lighter every day. I promise you this.

You reflect on how two weeks ago, you had the annoying disagreement with a co-worker that made you upset all day—and that you would do almost anything to have that be the worst part of your day again.

You watch people walking on the streets outside the hospital, and you wonder how they can just go on with their lives while this is happening. You look at the sun and wonder how it has the audacity to shine.

You worry about the bills. You worry about your job. You worry about your other children, your sanity, your partner.

Your child carries this illness, but you carry the world.

The siblings. Who are scared and confused. Who knows that something is wrong, even though we try to shelter you as much as possible. You're too smart for that, I know. You understand more than we share, and I see you.

You want your brother or sister to be better because you love them, and because this is really hard for you. You're just a kid, too, after all. It stinks that you had to drop out of basketball because no one could take you to practice this season. It is not fun to spend your afternoons in the hospital, and weekends with a babysitter. Everyone around you is kind of on edge, and it doesn't feel fair right now. You know what? You're right. It's not fair, and it's okay to be mad.

I want you to know that it's also okay to be happy. If you go to school and forget about what's going on for a while, or if you find yourself laughing a deep kid belly-laugh, it's okay. It's great, actually.

The grandparents. Who hurt for multiple generations—for the child who has been diagnosed, and for that child's parent who is reeling, who will always be your baby.

The village. Who wants desperately to help and has no idea how. Who goes to bed at night and stares at the ceiling, unable to shake the onslaught of emotions. Who feels guilty and blessed and terrified as they look at their own healthy child, and murmur the words, "what if?"

To all of you. Your child is my inspiration, and you are my heroes. Your child's journey is made infinitely better by your presence in it.

Bravery is not the absence of fear and strength is not the absence of struggle. You are scared and struggling, and you are the bravest and strongest people I know.

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Life

Kid's birthday parties can be great: There's lots of playtime for little ones to wear themselves out, the entertainment is free and it's the perfect time to bond with other mamas. But when it comes to gift-giving, everyone's interpretation of these unwritten rules is different which can create unwanted stress.

You know the scene: Some mamas prefer to give handmade gifts, others like buying popular toys and some only contribute to the child's college tuition.

If you haven't already heard, the trending theme for kid's birthday parties is "the fiver" and it takes the guesswork out of gift-giving. Rather than spending $20 on a toy they probably won't play with in a month the hosts ask for a $5 bill. The money is pooled together and can be put towards one big, much more significant gift, instead of many smaller, less meaningful things. The idea is simple, and it turns out, hosting one is similar to throwing a traditional birthday party.

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Here are six ways to throw a seamless (and fun!) fiver party:

1. Don't do it alone

Many moms tend to plan everything for their kids' parties all by themselves. They write down a list of things that they need to do and feel accomplished after checking off every single item. But, when the special day finally comes, moms stress over the details for fear that something might go wrong.

When planning a fiver party, delegate tasks and responsibilities during the planning process. Having a helper or two for the big day cuts down on having to clean up a big mess afterward.

2. Create a distraction-free environment

Though this sounds like a tip for doing homework, it applies to throwing a party, too. If you book a show for 3- or 4-year-olds, it's better to hide all the toys and snacks beforehand so they can sit longer and focus better on the activity you planned. Best of all, with fiver parties, you don't have to worry about designating an area to open a bunch of gifts.

3. Remember that hand painting is better for toddlers

Many children like to get their faces painted for their birthdays or for special events. Though face painting is a popular activity, children who are less than 4 years old will often start moving, fidgeting or crying in the middle of it and turn the beautiful butterfly on their faces into a mess. Because of this, try hand painting for the younger ones.

4. Always keep them busy

Fill your fiver party with activities so that the guests will always have something to do. Maybe this sounds a bit difficult, but you don't necessarily need to book 10 shows for one party. Simply prepare a few easy games (like a treasure hunt, musical chairs and sack race) for them to play beforehand. Keeping the children occupied will make your fiver party fun and memorable.

5. Less is more

A shortlist of guests will keep your little one from feeling overwhelmed by the attention. For toddlers, a party that lasts about an hour and a half is perfect. If they're a bit older, add another hour. Just remember children don't need much to feel happy and loved.

Bonus! Here are two ways to save money while making your kids' fiver party memorable:

1. Host the party at home.

Sure, venues are great, but they can be pricey. Having a party at home is inexpensive and intimate. Also, kids are more likely to interact with each other if the space is smaller.

2. Only serve snacks.

A common way to stay on budget is to invite people between meals and prepare snacks, not a full meal. Most kids are usually so busy playing they'll just graze anyway.

This article was originally published on Partify by Natalie Wong and it has been republished with permission from the author.

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Learn + Play

When your toddler is screaming for milk, a toy or a snack in the middle of the grocery store, it may feel like your world is closing in on you. It might not seem like it in the moment, but tantrums are a normal part of your child's development—it's a child's way of expressing how they feel.

But regardless of why little ones throw fits, it can be tough to navigate. We looked to the parenting threads on Reddit where mamas discuss the ins and outs as well as ups and downs of child-rearing. We were all ears.

Here's the best tantrum advice Reddit mamas swear by:

1. Wait it out

"Tantrums are a toddler's way of venting excess frustration, energy and emotion. Just wait it out and once it's dying down, offer some comfort. After, talk with them and verbalize and validate their emotions."— StayAtHome478936

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2. Don't entertain it

"Do not engage with them at all during a tantrum. It's tempting to try to calm them down and introduce some reason to the situation, but don't give in to that. Screaming is a one-way ticket to being completely ignored. They're allowed to be frustrated and upset, but you're not obligated to listen to it."— VoteyDisciple

3. Give yourself a mommy break

"I give myself mommy time outs if I'm getting frustrated or angry and even though no one is enforcing me, I still get the benefit of calming myself down, and my daughter sees me proactively taking care of my mood/behavior."— ChandrikaMoon

4. Let them explore their world

"If you have patience with misbehavior, you open the door to your child escalating until she has your full attention. I let my toddler explore her world and do anything I deem safe, but I am strict about enforcing safety rules and I do not allow her to misbehave without consequences."— soMuchToFind

5. Focus on the real issue

"Rather than punishing the symptom of the issue, work on the actual issue. For my 4-year-old son we are working on breathing and counting as a coping mechanism for when emotions become too overwhelming. For him, it works well. He responds to most minor and medium emotions by breathing now."— Hiitskai

6. Say 'no' less

"There is a school of thought that if the child reacts terribly every time you say 'no,' say 'no' less. Instead of no cookie you say you can have carrots or cheese now. Always offer one or two good choices when you can and it will head off at least some of the fits."— toasterchild

7. Take away things

"My kid started showing signs of being low-level obsessed with a game so we took it away cold turkey. We explained that the game makes him behave in a way we don't like, so we are going to take a break. Sure he wasn't happy about it, but we are the adults and he is entitled to feel any way he wants to."— greenpotatoes9

8. Offer breaks

"Daycare helped us so much with tantrums. They taught her the phrase 'I need my space.' So, when she has her tantrum, she goes away for a moment, and then comes back in a calmer state of mind. Often, the more we try to help her, the worse it gets."— dave moe dee

9. Play music

"The main thing that almost never fails is listening to music during a tantrum. I'm really into music myself so I guess this is no huge surprise but my girl just cannot cry while Beyonce is playing."— PavLovesDogs

10. Do something unrelated

"As long as the kid isn't actively endangering themselves while throwing the temper tantrum, I completely ignore it. I make a point of going about my business and doing something wholly unrelated to whatever lead up to the tantrum. It didn't take long for my kid to learn that the screaming and fussing won't get them what they want."— PerestroikaPal

11. Compromise

"If you give into a tantrum, find a way to make it seem like you're compromising for some other reason, but not because of the tantrum. I always tell my 3 year old 'You know how to ask. If you want something, use your words, ask nicely."—athaliah

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Learn + Play

When kids enter puberty we warn them about the change. We tell them their bodies are changing and that it's normal and natural and they're beautiful just as they are. But when women become mothers and their bodies—and brains—change, we are not offered the same affirmations and comfort as adolescents. Society tells children to accept the ways their bodies stretch, grow and shift to carry them through adulthood, but it tells the women who carry these children in their own bodies to fight change at all costs.

Luckily, that is changing. Women are standing up and saying what society should have been telling us all along: Yes, motherhood changes your body, but that change is beautiful.

And now, in a brilliant move that is both excellent marketing and empowering, hundreds of women are putting their postpartum bodies on display. The act is a powerful statement to themselves and to other mothers: Our bodies are meant to evolve and change, and you are normal and natural and beautiful just as you are.

Knix is selling underwear, but the brand is also creating real change with a project called The Life After Birth Project, which saw 250 photos of real moms exhibited in an NYC gallery before rolling into Knix's hometown, Toronto, Canada, this week.

The photos are refreshingly real and exactly what women need to see in 2019.

The Life After Birth Project shows the beauty and reality of postpartum healing 

One of the most damaging myths about postpartum recovery is that it is quick. It isn't. It actually takes about six to eight weeks for the uterus to shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size. The bump doesn't instantly disappear because it took 9 months to grow. A mother's body needs time to heal after birth, whether it was a vaginal delivery or a C-section, but too many mothers aren't given that time.

In the United States, so many working moms are back at their job within five weeks of giving birth, and even if paid work isn't a factor, unpaid labor and family obligations can have mothers doing too much too soon.

As Diana Spalding, midwife and Motherly's Digital Education Editor and Birth Expert, has said, "You would never expect someone to clean their house a few days after having surgery, or to run errands when they are getting over the flu—so why do we expect ourselves to snap out of giving birth? Pregnancy and birth are not ailments, but they are the real deal. Be gentle on yourself, and allow your body to heal."

Mothers should not be embarrassed by their changing bodies 

A recent survey found more than a third of women (37%) felt embarrassed by what their body was going through after birth. This is not okay, and it is why we need more projects like the The Life After Birth Project and more companies doing what Knix is doing.

That is why celebrities like Jillian Harris, pictured above, stepped up and shared photos of their own postpartum experiences for the Life After Birth project.

Yes, Jillian is wearing mesh panties and a giant pad in the above photo. But that's part of the journey and nothing to be embarrassed about.

We need to see our stories represented and know that this is normal.

More photos from #LifeAfterBirth

Four pregnancies in four years. This mama has been through so much and has some serious advice: "I wish our always busy culture recognized it more and gave new mothers patience and grace."

So do we Amy, so do we.

See the gallery in person

The Life After Birth Project is currently in Toronto but the next stop is Los Angeles on October 24.

The gallery will keep touring the US, too.

Stops are planned in Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Denver, Minneapolis. if you want to submit your own photos, tag @lifeafterbirthproject on Instagram and use the hashtag #LifeAfterBirth, or email your photos to lifeafterbirth@knix.com.

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