My kids taught me something I never expected—how to be my true self

It took me years to learn what they already know.

My kids taught me something I never expected—how to be my true self

I am a mom to two very different kids. My six-year-old daughter has always been a force of nature. She is loud, determined, and strong-willed.

This little lady knew from the moment she could dress herself that she was a tomboy. She soon became “allergic” to all things pink, and decided superheroes would be the preferred toys of choice.

As hard as it might be, I’m trying to let my kids be whoever they want to be.

Another mom once asked me if I was sad that my daughter wasn’t a “girly girl.” I honestly had never considered my feelings on the topic. I never thought being “sad” was something I should be able to feel, just because my kid wanted to be herself.


That’s not up to me, and I am happy my kid is happy being herself. I actually think it’s cool she knows how she wants to dress and acts differently from her friends—that took me years upon years to figure out for myself.

I’d say she’s on the right course to staying her true self, which is so hard to do.

My son, on the other hand, has more influences forming his little personality. He imitates his sister most of the time, which can be good and bad. It’s perfectly fine that he’s into all things “boy” like my daughter. I actually look at it as an investment when I get her toys, since I know he will use them—same thing with her clothes from the boy’s section.

I also feel like he does things he wouldn’t do if he hadn’t learned the behavior from the six-year-old. He used to be such a sweet little man, but lately, his attitude is right on par with the Kindergartener. Is it him, or is it his environment and the modeling after everything he sees? I’m not completely sure.

I love to see my son when he is alone, away from his sister’s influence. It’s in these moments I can see what he will be like once he decides to be himself.

He is kind and calm. He will sit for an hour playing alone, talking nicely to dolls and Legos equally. I only hope he can become a little less impressionable, like his sister. He’s the one getting in trouble at preschool, just because he follows what the other boys are doing. My daughter never had this problem.

The other day we were on vacation and my son did something I truly loved. He was playing dress-up with his cousins and sister. He chose his Elsa gown and a necklace and wanted help putting them on. I didn’t skip a beat and helped him right into the dress.

He was beaming with pride, wearing that gown, and I loved seeing him make a decision for himself and follow through.

He wore gowns and dresses our entire trip to my sister’s house. I love the fact that no one questioned it or made him feel odd for his choices. He wasn’t imitating his big sister—I can barely get dresses on her for weddings—he was just being himself.

These kids are teaching me lessons I should have learned years ago.

Be true to you! Don’t care what other people think, they don’t dictate your happiness, and they shouldn’t have a say in what you want to do in order to be happy.

From watching these two, I’ve learned that the whole “dance like no one is watching” phrase isn’t exactly accurate. It should be “dance like everyone’s watching, and you DON’T care.”

Let kids be themselves and someday those kids will grow up into confident adults who not only stay true to themselves but also encourage others to do the same.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall 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 outside-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.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden 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.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective 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.


    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.


    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!


    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.


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


    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

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