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One of my absolute favorite things about teaching in a Montessori school was the outdoor classroom. Children were able take almost any work outside and we also had work specifically designed to be done outside.


It was truly amazing to see how being in nature calmed certain children and helped them concentrate more fully than they ever did inside a classroom.

Giving children this time outside so many benefits. It sparks their curiosity and encourages creativity and imagination as they engage in open-ended play with twigs and rocks. It allows them to fall in love with their world and inspires them to take care of it.

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The best part is, you can easily recreate this at home! If you live in a more urban area and don’t have a yard, try these at your nearest park.

Here are 12 fun outdoor learning activities to get you started:

1. Channel your child’s inner-Monet

Bring an easel outside and watch your child paint the beauty of nature. There is something about being outdoors that can really bring out the introspective part of a child’s personality, and painting outside can be so peaceful. Plus, you don’t have to worry about getting paint on the couch. ;)

Pro tip: hang a little clothesline for their pictures to dry in the sun. The backyard can also be a fun place to explore with messier art like finger painting or working with clay.

2. Start a nature journal

Get your child a special notebook (these work especially well for this purpose). Find a comfortable spot outside and ask him to choose something he finds interesting or beautiful and draw it. If he’s old enough, he can then write about what he saw. If he can’t yet write on his own, ask him to tell you about it and write it down—seeing adults write is a great example for young children.

Try sitting next to him and working on your own nature journal. This is a really nice way to spend quiet time together. Plus, it might end up being the most relaxing part of your day!

3. Organize a nature scavenger hunt

Create a list of things for your child to look for. Or, take pictures of different birds, plants, and animals in your backyard, laminate them, and make a little booklet of things for her to find.

This takes a bit of work upfront, but can be reused many times and is a great activity kids can do independently, perhaps while you weed the garden…or sit on the porch for a glorious five minutes with a hot cup of coffee.

4. Count the acorns

Most backyards are full of so many little objects, perfect to practice counting. Try playing a “bring me” game:

Ask your child to bring you one rock, two acorns, three sticks, etc. This is a great mental exercise, because he has to remember the number in his mind while he searches. Or, see how many of something your child can find. Say something like, “I wonder how many acorns are in our yard. Can you count them?”

5. Classify or sort objects by size, shape or color

Young children often have a strong sense of order and are fascinated by organizing things. The outdoors offers so many opportunities to hone these skills and to practice classifying things.

One of the first classification exercises in Montessori is exploring what is living versus non-living. You could easily do this in your backyard!

Help your child make a poster of all of the living and non-living things she sees in the backyard. Bring out a big piece of paper or poster board and divide it in two columns. Ask her to draw all of the living things she sees in one column and all of the non-living things in the other.

See how many ways you can classify objects by size, by shape, by color, by texture—get creative!

6. Create a habitat

Does your child love ladybugs or pill bugs or frogs? Instead of bringing some inside in a little jar, create a little habitat for them outside. Help him research what the bugs need and make a little ladybug paradise in a corner of your yard. He will love maintaining it and checking if more little critters come.

7. Research and identify

If your child is interested in bugs or flowers, find a book on local wildlife and help her identify what she sees. You could start an ongoing list and add to it over time to see how many species you can find.

8. Plant a garden

This is of course a bigger project that takes more time, but gardening is such a beautiful way for children to connect with nature and to experience the joy of taking care of something and watching it grow.

9. Study the clouds

Use a book or some online images and help your child identity the types of clouds you see in the sky. Using just cotton balls, glue and construction paper, she can create pictures of the different types of clouds to help her remember.

10. Trace and label your child

Break out the sidewalk chalk and take turns tracing each other on the patio or driveway. You can talk about body parts, adjectives and get creative!

11. Craft a story

Children are so creative, but it can be hard staring at a blank page. Sit with your child outside and make up a story inspired by your surroundings, perhaps about a squirrel or a very big tree, then write it down.

Then it’s your child’s turn!

If she enjoys this, you could save her stories and make a little book, complete with photos of what inspired the stories.

12. Go camping—and have your child plan the whole thing

Backyard camping can be a great way to test the waters before taking things a little further from home. Help your child plan this mini-adventure.

Help him think through everything you’ll need–supplies, pj’s, food, books. Help him decide where the perfect spot in the yard is for the tent. Help him look at the weather forecast and pick a good night to be outside. He will feel so proud and will get some great practice with planning and organizational skills.

Just being in nature is a beautiful gift you can give your child. But if you’re looking to mix it up from the usual game of tag, give these a try! Your child will learn something new while also learning to love the outdoors in a whole new way.

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It's time to go shopping for your little ones mama. Not long ago we shared the super sale on Hunter boots for us moms, and now the super colorful and water proof boots are on sale for kids! Perfect timing as Spring is approaching and there will be a lot of puddle jumping in our futures.

The sale is up to 50% off in select styles, but in all the colors of the rainbow! We don't know how long the sale will last so act fast because some sizes are already on low stock!


Here are our favorite styles to shop from the sale:

The original grab handle boot in light blue

Original Kids First Classic Grab Handle

Originally $55, the original Grab Handle boot is 50% off right now.

$28

The classic gloss boot in blue

Original Kids First Classic Gloss Rain

Originally $55, the original Classic Gloss boot is 40% off right now.

$33

Chelsea boot in yellow 

Original Big Kids' Gloss Chelsea Boots

Originally $75, the Chelsea boot is 40% off right now.

$45

The original grab handle boot in pink

Original Kids First Classic Grab Handle

Originally $55, the original Grab Handle boot is 40% off right now.

$33

The classic gloss boot in yellow

Originally $55, the original Classic Gloss boot is 40% off right now.

$33

The camo boots

Original Little Kids Storm Camo Rain Boots

Originally $75, the camo boot is 50% off right now.

$35

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Jessica Simpson's life seems perfect. She has three beautiful kids, a wildly successful career, a seemingly solid marriage...she has it all, at least as far as we can see. But recent revelations prove that no one really knows what anyone else is secretly dealing with—and Jessica, by her own admission, has been struggling with alcohol issues.

The singer-turned-business-woman recently sat down with TODAY's Hoda Kotb, and it will air on NBC's TODAY Wednesday morning.

"I had started a spiral and I couldn't catch up with myself…and that was with alcohol," Jessica explained. "I would say it openly to everyone. 'I know. I know, I'll stop soon. I'll cut back'," Jessica continued when asked if she realized things were getting out of control. "For me to cut back, like I'm an all or nothing girl, and so I didn't know it was a problem until it was...I completely didn't recognize myself…I always had a glitter cup. It was always filled to the rim with alcohol."

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She's hardly alone. The rise of #winemom phenomenon is well documented and many parents struggle with substance abuse problems. But Simpson's story proves there is a way to get your life back.

Simpson quit drinking in 2017 after she found herself unable to get her kids ready for a Halloween party. She says she'd started drinking before 7:30 in the morning, before accompanying her husband, Eric Johnson, to a school assembly for their oldest daughter. Later that night she was unable to get her kids dressed in their Halloween costumes. The next morning she was so ashamed. Feeling like she had failed her kids she slept until they left the house, then got up and drank some more.

That episode was her tipping point. She quit drinking (as did her husband, Eric Johnson, who supports her in her sobriety.)



As parents, we know how overwhelming the demands can be...and how easy it is to sink into habits that don't ultimately serve us well. For Jessica, the way to heal was to sever her relationship with alcohol.

"I had to give [drinking] up," Jessica said. "I'm not going to miss another day. I'm not going to miss another Halloween. I'm not going to miss another Christmas. I'm going to be present."

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Babies come with a lot of stuff. And when you're out and about, a roomy, comfy diaper bag is the place for everything you need to be prepared for whatever the day throws your way. But is a cute, trendy diaper bag that doesn't scream, well... DIAPER BAG, too much to ask? It's not, mamas.

We've rounded up our favorite diaper bags that don't actually look like diaper bags, but instead like the cute, super stylish bags you might have carried before the days of finding crushed up puffs at the bottom of your purse.

These bags prove you can get the job done, mama—and look darn good while doing it.

Freshly Picked City Pack

Freshly Picked City Pack

This simple, modern backpack can easily take you from a day at work to dinner with the kiddos. We love the hardware details, the lightweight design, and the hidden back pocket.

$150

Vogshow Waterproof Bag

Vogshow Waterproof Diaper Bag

A sleek look, plus a padded laptop compartment, anti-theft and insulated pockets and magnetic buttons instead of zippers. 🙌

$34.99

Skip Hop Travel Bag

Skip Hop Travel Bag

With a large zippered main compartment, there's plenty of room to keep all of the things. We love the adjustable straps—you can wear as a backpack, cross-body, messenger bag, or attach to the stroller.

$99.99

Companion Quilted Backpack

companion quilted backpack diaper bag

Are you off to sit on the beach for a few hours, or taking your toddlers to the zoo? No one will be the wiser, mamas. We love the quilted look, padded straps, and roomy interior.

$178

Mommore Diaper Backpack

Mommore Diaper Backpack

With a water resistant exterior, wet clothes pocket and a main compartment that completely opens up, you'll love having this to tote around.

$34.99

JJ Cole Brookmont

JJ Cole Cognac Diaper Bag

As stunning as it is functional. It has 15 pockets and a removable liner on the inside so you can easily clean up messes in no time.

$99.99

Little Unicorn Boardwalk Tote

If you're looking to keep things simple + stylish, mamas, this is the bag for you. It's versatile, functional, and will get tons of use well past the diaper days.

$69.95

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

This stunning tote would make the perfect on-the-go bag. It comes with a changing page and a couple pockets on the inside to keep everything organized. Don't forget to personalize it!

$99

Ticent Tote

Ticent Diaper Bag

With nearly 500 reviews, this one has incredible ratings. It offers multiple pockets, including an insulated one for snacks or bottles. The waterproof cotton material is ideal for those inevitable spills.

$30.99

Fawn Design Original

Stylish and versatile, this bag can be worn as a cross body or as a backpack. It's roomy without being bulky, and has a total of 10 pockets for awesome storage.

$159.99

Skip Hop Greenwich Backpack

No one would ever know this bag is packed full of baby's items. 😉

$69.99

Rosie Pope Highbury Hill

Highbury Hill Diaper Backpack

If you're looking to up your style, this chic backpack will help you get there. Lots of inner pockets and zippered compartments make it simple to organize your stuff, and the top flap and wide opening make for quick + easy accessibility.

$159.99

Babymel Robyn

Babymel Robyn Diaper Backpack

We love everything about this effortlessly stylish faux leather backpack. It's easy to wipe down, converts to a cross body bag, and even comes with a changing pad and drawstring bottle holder.

$90

Petunia Pickle Bottom Pathway

Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Tote

This two-tone canvas bag could not be prettier. We love that it easily stands upright when set down, and that it's super functional as a diaper bag yet super stylish as an everyday purse.

$159

Skip Hop Duo

Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag

The timeless stripes on this 11-pocket bag means it will never go out of style, and the durable cotton canvas means it will stand up to years of use.

$70

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

Shop

Frustrations and emotions were at an all time high for both us. I was worried that my lack of patience would get the best of me, leaving her feeling let down and frustrated with me on her new journey of becoming a “big girl." And selfishly, I was tired of washing wet underwear. For her part, my daughter was tired of being asked for the hundredth time if she needed to use the potty.

We both were feeling a little defeated in this new adventure.

I have found too often as a mother that I expect my child to respond new things, like to potty training, as fast and as close to the last blog post, book or opinion I heard or read. What I have learned is that no two children are alike and the moment I release my expectations for where mine should or should not be, we are both brought back to peace and patience.

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So maybe a break was all we needed to start fresh the next day. We headed to our favorite spot by the lake and had a picnic. My daughter munched on popcorn and chatted away about the weather and pinecones, and listened for the sounds of helicopters—which you hear quite often living on an aviation military base.

Sometimes in the daily struggles of motherhood I have noticed that I can forget who I am and the strength we possess as mothers. It may not come easily at first, but I grow with each new day. Even potty training—this mundane human activity that is emotional and (quite literally) messy, teaches me much about the meaning and purpose of motherhood.

Potty training has taught me a huge lesson on patience. Patience to be present, to pay attention to what is right in front of me. To be encouraging, to not rush the process, to not place expectations on timing or play the comparison game we often play as mothers.

Patience is needed in every area of parenting and potty training is just one way where we can see as parents where our patience is wearing thin.

I have found that it's when I come from a place of patience and presence that I can then glean wisdom from those messy, mundane, time-consuming tasks of potty training, and find that the waiting, sitting and hours of time spent in the bathroom gives me an opportunity to be present in my child's world.

Whether it be the grocery line, a traffic jam, or cleaning up wet bedding, I learn the art and joy in the small and big moments in motherhood. Giving our children space to fail and try it again as many times as it takes encourages them that they too can cultivate the gift of patience in there own tiny lives.

My daughter speaks to me everyday, inviting growth that sometimes feels really hard and frustrating, she provokes patience to be felt and sensed through every minute of the day. And for this I am grateful. Because to truly live and be present in my child's world means “I learn from her, and she learns from me." Even in potty training.

Our children have so much to offer to who we are as individuals and they have so much to teach us. In fact, I have come to live for these exhausting, beautiful, and downright messy moments in time. When I push myself to embrace them, rather than just find them frustrating, I stretch and grow and evolve. I become the mother I hope to be.

And to you mama, whether in the midst of sleepless newborn nights or toddler tornados or the midst of potty training, may you find strength as a mother, as a wife, and as a person to let go of any expectations or judgements you place upon yourself.

May love and gratitude fill our hearts and peace be with all of us on the journey that motherhood is.

Life
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