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Winter with children can be tough. Outside time is often cut short as it gets dark earlier and little hands get chilly in the cold. That coupled with cold and flu season can often mean lots of time cooped up inside.

While unstructured free time is a wonderful way to encourage children to exercise their creativity and discover their own unique interests, it's also nice to have a few special wintertime activities up your sleeve for those days that just seem to never end.

Try these Montessori-inspired winter activities to make all of that quality time together a little more enjoyable.

1. Bake bread together

Winter is a perfect time to experiment with baking, as it warms the whole house and fills the air with wonderful, cozy smells. Bread is especially fun as children marvel at how it rises and how just a few, simple ingredients can transform into something so delicious.

Baking bread is also a great choice because children of all ages can participate. The youngest child can help dump and mix pre-measured ingredients while older children can measure and knead. Try including a book about bread to make it even more memorable.

2. Make family picture cards

If you visited, or plan to visit, extended family during the winter holidays, try making some simple picture cards for the different family members you'll see.

Simply print and laminate a photo of each family member and collect them in a basket on a shelf in your child's room. Spend time looking at the photos and talking about each person. Not only will this help familiarize your child with family they don't often see, but it is a great opportunity for you to share stories about your family and your own childhood.

For an older child, try adding labels with each person's name and let them practice matching the names to the pictures. If you're a close-knit family, have them match their favorite foods or something more specific.

3. Write cards for family

Invite your child to help create special cards to send to family. You can send holiday cards, thank you cards for gifts received, or even Valentine's Day cards if the holiday season is too hectic.

Younger children can help decorate while older children can help write messages and address the envelopes.

4. Grate cinnamon or nutmeg

Give your child a mini grater and show them how to grate cinnamon or nutmeg into a little bowl. They will enjoy the wonderful aromas of freshly ground spices and become more familiar with some of the ingredients that flavor winter food.

Your child can then help sprinkle the spices on apple slices or transfer them to little jars to bring as host or hostess gifts to holiday gatherings. The perfect blend of sensory details.

5. Host a tea party

Not only is tea a warm and cozy beverage, but a tea party is also a wonderful time to practice how to set a table, how to serve others, and how to keep a conversation going.

This book shares ideas on how to make the most of tea time, but feel free to keep it as simple as you wish. Practice the etiquette with your child and then invite a loved one or friend over to join you and let your child practice being a host.

6. Explore ice

Winter is a fun time to do some basic science experiments with ice. If it's below freezing outside, help your child fill a pot of water and put it outside. Check on it in the morning to see if it froze. Experiment with different liquids and see what freezes at different temperatures. If you don't live somewhere cold, you can, of course, use the freezer instead!

7. Study hibernation

Many children know that bears hibernate, but they may not be aware that other animals like hedgehogs, snails and snakes do as well. Talk to your child about how you have a warm house to keep you cozy when it's cold outside, but animals use different strategies, like migration and hibernation, to stay warm. There are many great books on animals in the winter and hibernation that can add to your discussion.

8. Rake leaves and plow snow

While these tasks can seem like arduous chores to us, many young children will delight in helping, especially if given tools just their size. Most children will enjoy this the most if they are working alongside you, so you're not totally off the hook.

9. Go bird or animal watching

As the leaves fall off of the trees and bushes, it can be easier to spot animals as they're less hidden. Talk to your child about how to walk quietly so they don't scare the animals away and what animals and birds they might see. If it's snowy, keep an eye out for animal tracks as well. Write down a log of the animals you see together this winter. You can use drawing, words or photos to make this more fun.

10. Celebrate holidays around the world

So many cultures have different winter holidays. Check out a book from the library or see if your city has any open celebrations from other cultures and introduce your child to the many ways people around the world celebrate the season. Making different foods traditional to these holidays can be a fun way to bring them to life in your own home.

Winter days can seem long, but they can also be magical. It can be a great time to slow down together and notice the wonder of the changing seasons. Next time your kids are getting stir crazy and you're longing for the summer sun to return, try one of these activities to brighten up your day and make this winter a little more memorable.

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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[Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's emotional journey with postpartum anxiety.]

I see you, mama.

I know you don't want to feel this way. I know you're terrified of everything in the world right now. I know you want to wrap your baby in a bubble and keep them safely in your arms forever. I know you can't "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you are too nervous to drift off in case they stop breathing. I know you don't want to let anyone near your little one because they could be carrying an illness. I know you've cried in the bathroom and begged for the voice to stop. And I know you love your child more than anything in the world.

I know because I was you.

I was in the 10% of estimated women who are affected by Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but had no idea what I was experiencing. I worried about EVERY little thing but just brushed the fears aside, thinking this was just normal of first-time motherhood. But it was something more.

I lived in constant fear that my son was either going to get hurt or he was going to die.

It started the first week of being home from the hospital. I was so scared of SIDS that I actually googled "How much sleep do I need in order to survive?" I would only get two to three hours, not because my child was keeping me up, but because I was scared he would stop breathing and I wouldn't be awake to save him.

I would religiously wash all of his clothes with baby detergent and if I thought I mistakenly used regular detergent, I would rewash everything. I was afraid he would get a skin rash if I didn't. If my husband had the slightest hint of a cold, I would banish him to the guest room and handle all of the baby duties on my own until he was fully recovered.

I would wash and rewash bottles because I was afraid they weren't clean enough and convinced myself if I didn't then he would catch a rare illness. When we supplemented with formula, I wasted multiple cans because I was so scared I didn't measure it correctly, so I would dump it and start over.

I didn't want to be this way. I didn't want to let PPA be the thief of my joy, but anxiety doesn't care who you are or what you've been through. I knew my previous miscarriages attributed to my PTSD, which manifested into anxiety.

I knew I needed help.

I cried so many nights as my husband and baby boy slept because I just wanted to feel "normal." I didn't want to overanalyze every bump or rash or cough, I wanted to enjoy being a first time mom, but I felt like I was drowning.

On top of the anxiety was guilt. I had wanted this baby so badly—I wanted to feel joy, happiness, and gratitude, and yet I felt overwhelmed, sad, and miserable. What was happening?

I would tell myself not to worry, I'd try to convince myself a regular cold was just a cold. But then a voice would come into my head and make me second guess myself. What if it was a serious infection and became fatal if I ignored it? So I rushed my baby boy to the doctor every time I thought something was wrong.

I went to the pediatrician over 20 times in my son's first year of life. One time I went because I thought he had a cancerous mole, which turned out to be a piece of lint stuck to his hair. I felt like I was losing control of myself.

Eventually, when my son was 3 months old, I went to a therapist for help. I needed someone to hear me and give me the tools to overcome this. I am not without daily anxiety, I still have many fears and I have to bring myself back to reality, but I work on it every day. I cope and I make an effort to continue with my therapist so I can beat this.

Even though this topic is hard to write about, I have no shame in my story. Carrying a child is hard, giving birth is harder, and jumping onto the roller coaster of motherhood is one hormonal, wild ride.

Mamas, we are allowed to not be okay and we have every right to make that known. I wasn't okay and it took every ounce of strength I had to get myself out of the darkness.

If I could tell you anything about struggling with this, it is this: PPA is real, it is not normal, and getting help is okay. Do not feel ashamed, do not feel embarrassed, and don't for one second think you owe anyone an explanation.

Do not let a single person make you feel like you are less of a mother. You are a magnificent human being, a loving mama bear, and you will get through this.

I see you, and I'm holding space for you.

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Ready to bring a baby on board? Feelings of excitement can often be met with those of financial concern as you prep for this milestone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2015, the cost of raising a child is $233,610—a number that can make anyone's jaw drop to the floor.

But before you start to worry, here are ways you can become more financially savvy before the baby is born:

1. Budget for healthcare costs

The cost of delivering a baby can vary by state, but suffice it to say it can be thousands of dollars. Castlight Health found that the lowest average cost of delivery was $6,075 in Kansas City, MO and the highest average cost $15,420 in Sacramento, CA. Costs are even higher for a Cesarean delivery.

The first thing you want to do is check your insurance and see what they will cover so what you will be responsible for. Then create a separate savings account so that you can cover any costs that you're on the hook for. You can set up automatic savings after each payday up until the baby is born to help assist with any healthcare costs associated with delivery.

2. Cut your expenses

Before the baby arrives, do a spending audit and see where you can slash some expenses. Free up any leftover money to help cover the increased costs that will come, such as food, clothes, and formula.

If you're struggling with how to do that, take a look at all of your expenses and write next to each either"want" or "need." Look at your "want" list and see which expenses are ones you can either eliminate or cut back on. If it doesn't bring you joy or add value, ditch it! You might even find subscriptions that you didn't know you had.

3. Go for second-hand goods

Of course, there are some things you definitely want to buy new for baby, but things like clothes and toys you can get second hand and save a lot of money. Your baby will grow so fast and buying new clothes every few months can add up. If your family members or friends have old baby clothes or toys they're willing to part with, it will save money and you can pay it forward down the line.

4. Look for sales or coupons

Clothes and toys are items that you can buy second hand, but products, like a car seat and crib are best new. You want to be up-to-date with safety and know what you're getting. Before going shopping, search for sales or coupons before you head out. A little research online can go a long way and save you hundreds.

5. Have a garage sale

If you need to make room for baby, it's time to get rid of items that you no longer use or need. Take all of the stuff you are planning to get rid of and have a garage sale to make extra money. You can also try selling online on Craigslist, Poshmark and OfferUp too.

Take the money you earn from selling your stuff and put it in your savings account earmarked for your baby.

6. Get a 529 plan

It's never too early to save for your baby's college. You can open a state-sponsored 529 plan which is a tax-advantaged savings account for education-related costs. Instead of asking for gifts or toys from family and friends, you can request money to go toward a 529 plan. It will be an impactful gift that will help your child in the future and help lessen the financial burden on you.

7. Prep now instead of later

Your whole world will change when your baby arrives, so in order to save money, time and stress, create a plan now. Is there a family or friend close by who can babysit if you need some rest or have to run an errand? Ask them now if they can help out.

Start preparing meals in bulk that can be in the freezer and easily made so you don't have to think about food. Put your bills on autopay so that you don't miss any payments and get hit with late fees. Know how long you can get maternity or paternity leave and understand how that will affect your income and budget. Getting all of this ready ahead of time can help you in the long run.

8. Purchase life insurance

While thinking about why you need life insurance can be a bit stressful, preparation is essential, especially when you're adding another member to your family. Life insurance will provide financial support if you had a loss of income due to something happening to either you or your partner.

9. Understand any tax benefits

The birth of your baby will affect your taxes, which can actually end up putting more money back into your pocket. Do some research online and see how a dependent will change your taxes in your state, such as new exemptions available. Or, find a trusted accountant or tax specialist in your area who can walk you through your options.

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We've had some struggles, you and me. In my teens, we were just getting to know each other. It was a rocky road at times, like when people referred to you as "big boned." I was learning how to properly fuel you by giving you the right foods. How to be active, to keep you strong and in good shape. I wish I knew then what I do now about you and what a true blessing you are. But that's something that has come with the gift of motherhood.

In my 20's, we became more well-acquainted. I knew how to care for you. After I got engaged, we worked so hard together to get into "wedding shape." And, looking back now, I totally took that six pack—okay, four pack—for granted. (But I have the pictures to prove it.)

Now that I'm in my 30's (how did my 30's happen so fast, btw?) with two kids, I'm coming to terms with my new postpartum body.

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If there are two things a mama is guaranteed to love, it's Target plus adorable and functional baby products. Target's exclusive baby brand Cloud Island has been a favorite destination for cute and affordable baby clothing and décor for nearly two years and because of that success, they're now expanding into baby essentials. 🙌

The new collection features 30 affordable products starting at $0.99 and going up to $21.99 with most items priced under $10—that's about 30-40% less expensive than other products in the market. Mamas can now enjoy adding diapers, wipes, feeding products and toiletries to their cart alongside clothing and accessories from a brand they already know and love.


The best part? The Target team has ensured that the affordability factor doesn't cut down on durability by working with hundreds of parents to create and test the collection. The wipes are ultra-thick and made with 99% water and plant-based ingredients, while the toiletries are dermatologist-approved. With a Tri-Wrap fold, the diapers offer 12-hour leak protection and a snug fit so parents don't have to sacrifice safety or functionality.

So when can you start shopping? Starting on January 20, customers can shop the collection across all stores and online. We can't wait to see how this beloved brand expands in the future.

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.

You might also like:

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