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The ‘bad’ sleep habit I love

I give him the two-minute warning before we are to head upstairs for bedtime preparations. He always says, “OK, Mom” but when two minutes has elapsed, he dilly-dallies to the staircase. Nine times out of ten, I say, “Would you like to walk up the stairs yourself or should I pick you up and carry you?” before he will get to the bottom step. He then races to beat me upstairs.


We wrestle through bath time, and I try to contain the mess-making waves splashing from the tub as my son pretends to teach his toy dolphin how to swim. I chase him around the bedroom to wrangle him into his pajamas, brush his stuffed puppy's teeth and pretend the puppy has told me that it's his turn for teeth brushing now. Sometimes, my patience wears thin, and I snappishly tell him to stop messing around.

He is only 6, I remind myself. When he is testing me, I take a deep breath and refocus.

Once we climb into the oversized, overstuffed glider I insisted we needed before my son was born—the same chair that my husband pretends to hate but secretly loves—we read. We read three books or more, and bedtime stretches over an hour. First my husband, and then me. I love to watch them together, the daddy and the little boy, discussing the finer points of Clifford's antics or counting the firemen in a Little Golden book.

At lights out, we begin our nightly version of the fireside chat—what my friend Rachel calls Talk Time—with the two of us, my son and I, wedged tightly into that overstuffed chair. We talk about what he did at school, and for what and whom he is thankful. We dream about visiting his grandparents, and his aunts and uncles and cousins and friends. He names his school friends, and makes up stories that meander and stroll through the ever-connecting synapses of his little-boy brain.

Sometimes, we laugh at the silliest things I can make up.

Or we talk to his stuffed animals and pretend that we are all having a conversation.

Before I put him to bed, he drapes himself around me like a spider monkey and pulls his little hands through my hair. He kisses me and smiles right into my eyes, and it's at that second that I take a mental picture. Snap. Don't forget this moment. Snap.

It won't be long before we're discussing the birds and the bees and baseball scores and the kinds of cars he wants to drive. It won't be long before he will not squeeze next to me for these nightly talks.

I hope that the door will stay open for talking.

I hope I will do a good enough job building the foundation that he will be comfortable enough to come to me with questions much more serious and consequential than why the Raphael, the Ninja Turtle, wears a purple eye mask. I want to be an askable adult. Someone he comes to with questions.

It will be up to me to keep talking, but more importantly, to keep listening. When the questions start sounding more subtle, I must listen for the undertones, and be there to answer them the best I can.

This is why our monthly date nights are during the AARP special hours from 5:00-8:00, so we can get home and put our son to bed. This is why we haven't taken a vacation away from our son yet. This is why I try not to overschedule our evenings and say no sometimes to plans that take place during bedtime.

He is growing before our eyes—he is changing every night and every bedtime is a little bit different.

I understand that bedtime can be very challenging when you're juggling two or more kids with different bed times or different habits or preferences—bedtime with one child is easy. It has its moments of GET OVER HERE AND STOP DANCING ON YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY and STOP SPLASHING ALL OF THE WATER OUT OF THE TUB but it also has a trajectory of relaxation. By the time we get to that big recliner for our chat every night, we're both wound down and sleepy, snuggled in close together.

After all of that, he will still wake me in the middle of the night, and he'll call me to come and get him and bring him to bed with us. I half-sleep, waiting for his voice. He will snuggle in and we will all breathe the same night air as a family, until he doesn't want to join us anymore. Some parents have given me ‘The Look’ and admonished me that it's a bad habit—I shrug and ignore them. These are OUR memories and OUR time together, and we're doing it our way.

Throw away all of the books on sleeping and decide what works best for you.

I never thought I wanted to have a squirmy child in bed with us, and we started it out of desperation to get some sleep. He would keep us awake all night anyway, taking up half the bed by creating the crossbar in an "H" between my husband and me. Over time, it became a "bad habit" I learned to love.

When I awake before him and see his long lashes brushing his cheeks in the morning light, or when he wakes before me, throws a little arm around my neck and says, "You're the greatest mama in the whole world," I wouldn't trade a second of it. Bad habits be damned.

I don't want to miss one day—or one night—of this.


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Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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.

$30

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!

$75

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.

$30

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.

$100

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.

$45

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.

$40

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.

$121

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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

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Pop culture might lead us to believe that single people are having all the good sex and us married folks are lucky to get anything at all. But, for a lot of couples, sex gets better after a walk down the aisle.

I'll put it like this: The escapades I had before my husband were a lot like fast food—quick and unsatisfying. On the other hand, married sex is like having a five-star, live-in chef. So, why is it so hard to sell the idea married people are having the best sex of their lives?

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