Ignore the mess and come outside to play, mama

Nothing lost, but memories were gained. And you can never have enough memories.

Ignore the mess and come outside to play, mama

Allow me to paint a picture of my 3-year-old’s room from earlier this afternoon. There isn’t a thing in this picture that doesn’t drive me absolutely crazy… unmade bed, random orange dish towel I had no idea he even had, blankets piled in a heap on the floor, and the rug turned into a safety hazard rolled every which way on the floor. Oh, and Legos. The ever-present, teeny-tiny Legos.

I had to run back to his room to grab a hat for him on our way outside to play and opened the door to this. As I stood in the doorway and wondered how he’d even had the time to make such a mess, I heard a little voice:


“Sorry, Mommy. Sorry”

I looked down and saw my son standing beside me. He must’ve felt the need to defend himself because he immediately explained that he had built a huge construction site and that his ‘friends’ had helped him.

The orange towel was a loading dock for the giant dump truck, the blankets were huge mounds of dirt and the Legos were rocks that needed to be cleared in order to smooth the ground.

The more he explained, the more I started to see the mess through his eyes. Each item was in a specific place for a specific reason and my son had a plan for each one.

(Except for Pikachu. Not sure what purpose his creepy face served at this site.)

I thought back to his words—

“Sorry, Mommy. Sorry.”

All I could think was… sorry? Sorry for what?

For being creative?

For having an imagination?

For being a kid?

I realized he was looking up at me with his big, brown eyes, a look of disappointment on his face. He knew what was coming. He knew what I was going to say. He knew he wouldn’t be allowed to go outside unless his room was clean. And let me tell you, I wanted it clean too. I really, really wanted it clean. In my head, I was already down on my hands and knees scooping up every last Lego into the bucket.

But instead of giving him an ultimatum, I decided to do something else.

I closed the door.

I closed the door, went outside in the sunshine, and played with my kids.

I watched them as they smiled and waved at the semi-trucks who drove past our house, in an attempt to get them to honk their horns and listened to them laugh when the driver would oblige.

I turned on the bubble machine and watched my 1-year-old as he stumbled all over the driveway, hands in the air, trying to pop the hundreds of bubbles as they floated around him.

I laughed out loud as I watched my toddler zig-zag all over the back yard, leaping and diving to snatch a butterfly, and falling short every time.

I loaded both of them up in the wheelbarrow and pushed them around on the driveway because my toddler thought that it was ‘a really good idea.’ Five minutes and a thousand drops of sweat later, I realized that it was really not a good idea and told my son that Daddy would be so much better at the wheelbarrow game than I was. I may have only made it five minutes, but as I lifted my son out of the wheelbarrow, he said that those five minutes were ‘super fun.’

And all of this happened while the bed was still unmade, the blankets were still in a heap, and the Legos were scattered all over the floor. The world didn’t stop turning and nothing was lost in that hour.

Nothing lost, but memories were gained. And you can never have enough memories.

I don’t want to look back at these days, filled with regret because I was so caught up in the little things that just. don’t. matter. Some days it’s still a challenge, but I’m learning. Every day, I’m learning.

As a mom, there are a lot of things I get wrong. And I mean, A LOT. But this? This I got right.

So whether it’s a messy room, a sink full of dirty dishes, furniture that needs cleaned or loads of laundry that need folded…

…sometimes it’s better just to close the door.

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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