My goal as a parent is not to make my kids happy—it’s to see them fulfilled

My ultimate objective as a parent is not to make my kids happy, it’s to see them fulfilled. 

My goal as a parent is not to make my kids happy—it’s to see them fulfilled

I’ve heard it so many times.

I’ve even thought and said it myself: “I just want my kids to be happy.”

But recently, I’ve decided “just being happy” isn’t what I want for my kids.

Lots of things make my kids happy. No rules and late nights watching Disney Junior makes them happy, a mountain of Skittles dropped into a tub of caramel popcorn makes them happy, setting them loose in a toy shop with sticky fingers and a hammer makes them happy.

My ultimate objective as a parent is not to make my kids happy, it’s to see them fulfilled.

Happiness will be the occasional side-effect. But happiness is a fickle thing and seeking constant happiness is just as numbing as none at all.


When I focus so intently on creating happy kids, I am implicitly teaching them that any time they’re not happy, life is bad.

It’s an attitude that offers them ice-cream sundaes to cheer them up when they’re sad. It’s more toys when they’re bored—or hours of TV to keep them entertained. But that only teaches them that a lack of happiness can be fixed with ‘stuff’ that comes from the outside.

No one has ever found happiness there.

I now believe that my job as a parent is not to make my children happy, it’s to keep them healthy and safe.

And if I get to want something for my children, it’s not going to be happiness.

What I want for my kids is to experience love in both its waxing and waning phases.

I want them to overcome challenges with intelligence and grace.

I want them to adventure through their hearts and minds, uncovering more exquisite treasure within them at every turn.

I want them to live in lifelong curiosity, to hunger for knowledge, to thirst for experience.

I want them to be rooted in empathy and compassion for the world around them. I want them to be kind and generous, full of humanity.

I want them to want to make a palpable difference to the lives they cross.

I want them to believe in who they are and the power of their tiniest contributions.

I want them to be confident.

I want them to meet fear often, and to find courage on occasion, because that means they’re working outside constant comfort and security.

I want them to explode with ideas and creativity, to explore, to experiment with whatever they can get their hands and minds on.

I want them to take risks, to fall, to fail and to learn what it is to stand up again with scrapes on their knees and scars on their hearts.

I want them to believe in the healing power of ‘again’ or ‘next time.’

I want my kids to be secure enough in themselves to go hunting when they’re hungry and to be big enough to share the catch when they make it.

I want all these things for my kids and most of them don’t come with the irrationality and flightiness of happiness.

Those things require effort and time and commitment from me as a parent.

They require me to continue to educate myself about first and foremost, myself.

They require me to be the best and most authentic version of ‘me’ every day, every minute, every ‘now’ that they’re around and that they’re not.

They require me to read and learn about education, nutrition, psychology, children, brains, candy making, costume jewelry, dinosaur species… whatever matters at that moment.

They require me to find the teachable moments in the endless milk spills and broken vases.

They require me to explore my own fears and limitations and breaks and beliefs.

They require me to be open and to hold space for them to be themselves.

They require me to be understanding of their differences and their quirks.

They require me to problem-solve on the spot when they come running to me in tears.

They require me to step back when they have their own battles to fight, when they have their own wounds to heal, and they require me to know when to fix, and when to hold.

They require me to have endless compassion, to rain love and understanding and acceptance on them whenever I have the energy left over, and especially when I don’t.

They require me to have courage and faith when they are dealing with something I have never come across and don’t know what to do.

They require me to say I don’t know, let’s look it up. And sometimes, simply not to know.

They require me to stare in the mirror for a good long time, they require me to admit my own faults, to laugh out loud as often as possible and also to cry out loud when crying is what’s needed.

They require me to ask for help and forgiveness and support and to live with as little guilt as I can possibly survive with.

Parenting is one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do. It is also one of the most soul-wrenching, heart-scoring, mind-bending, love-filling, confidence-scorching, self-esteem-building roles a human could ever play.

And it’s a lot of work because I want to be the kind of parent that my kids will want to be like.

I want to be the kind of parent my kids look up to and the kind of parent they turn to when they need a friend to listen. I want to be the kind of parent that knows deep in the depths of her secret soul that she gave what knowledge and wisdom and experience she had, went in pursuit of what she didn’t, and lived in peace with what was left in between.

Just wanting my kids to be happy isn’t enough.

Teaching then HOW to design lives brimming with meaning, connection and value is a monumental challenge.

I’m still learning how to get there myself.

Join Motherly

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.


Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less