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Summer is a more relaxed time that often brings more quality time with your kids. Whether you have full days at home with them or just fewer sports and structured activities, there is definitely a lot more "empty" time to fill.

While for some this brings a sigh of relief, for others it leads to a mild sense of panic. How are we supposed to fill all of that time? How are we supposed to entertain our children all day long without school and ballet class?

There are many creative ideas for boredom busters out there, but the Montessori way takes a slightly different approach to boredom. In Montessori, the role of the adult is to prepare the environment, rather than to entertain the child. This means setting up a space filled with simplicity, beauty, and interesting things with which a child can engage themself.

How to set your child up for success this summer—Montessori style

You can do a lot to help your child successfully entertain himself through how you set up their environment. Montessori environments are simple, extremely organized, and allow children to access all of the activities they may want to complete on their own.

To replicate this at home, look around your child's room and try to identify anything they haven't played with in the last two weeks. Then put it away in a closet. Bring it out a few months later when it will seem new again.

It can seem baffling when children say they're bored when they have so many toys, but sometimes they are just overwhelmed by choice or clutter. Fewer toys can often be more engaging.

Next, take a look at how the room is set up. Can your child reach his toys and books by himself, or are they too high on a shelf? Are things organized in a logical way? Does everything have a specific place where it belongs?

These things may seem insignificant, but many young children have a strong sense of order and it can be hard for them to concentrate or really delve into playing if things are too chaotic.

One strategy that can be helpful is organizing the room by category. Every Montessori classroom is organized this way, with all of the language work together, all of the math together, and so on. The categories would look different at home. Try putting all of their puzzles on the same shelf and art supplies in the same bucket.

Here are some examples of Montessori-friendly areas you might include in your child's space:


Designate a small shelf or corner for an art area for your child. For a young child, it can be helpful to have each art activity on its own tray.

You might have a tray with oil pastels and black paper, a tray with two or three paint colors, paper, a paintbrush, a water cup, and an apron to protect their clothes. Then a tray with a bowl full or paper scraps, a small container of glue, and some paper.

You can switch out the art supplies throughout the summer as you notice their interest waning.

The first time they choose the activity, give them a lesson, showing each step, including how to clean up and where to put the picture when they're done. After you've shown them how they should be able to choose the activities and do them independently whenever they want.

For a slightly older child, you could set up a maker space with various supplies.

Food prep

Many children love preparing food and there are so many fun food prep activities that toddlers and older children can complete by themselves.

Clear off a small shelf or drawer in the kitchen for your child's kitchen tools and food prep activities so that they can choose what they want. A simple one to start with for young children is peeling an orange. All you need is a small tray with two bowls, one for the orange peel and one for the orange slices.

Other activities include carrot or cucumber slicing using a wavy chopper, egg peeling and slicing, banana peeling and slicing, and cherry pitting.

Older children can do things like make guacamole or bake bread using a toaster oven. If you show your child how to use the tools safely and how to clean up, these are all things that they can do independently.

Science and nature

Choose a small area of your home to serve as a science and nature center. This could simply be a little table in your child's room. Include books about plants, animals, geography, and whatever else you notice your child is interested in.

Find a little box or basket to use for a nature collection—where all of those little pebbles and feathers they gather outside can go. When the box is full, it's time to return some things to nature. Bonus: Include a magnifying glass so they can examine everything.

You can also include things like these fun insect specimens or a selection of magnets for open exploration.


A well-stocked and cozy book corner is always a wonderful place for a child to spend time.

For a younger child, consider a set of interesting picture cards for building vocabulary. Don't use them as flashcards to quiz your child, just talk about each one together. For an older child, include some story writing paper and colored pencils and encourage him to write his own stories as well.

Other areas that you won't find in a classroom but might want to include at home are pretend play and a building area with various kinds of blocks and legos. You can really set up a small area for anything your child is interested in.

Lazy summer days are a great time to play with your child and do special activities together. Setting up a few areas in your home where your child can play independently will allow your child to have fun playing on his own too so that you can recharge as well.

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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