Social media is her highlight reel—not real life

Just a friendly reminder not to beat yourself up over what you see online.

Social media is her highlight reel—not real life

Social media and I have a love/hate relationship. Since I have been on maternity leave, I have spent a lot of time scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to pass the hours while comforting my newborn who has yet to take up sleeping at night. While social media does keep me extremely entertained, at times it also makes me feel extremely inadequate.

Everyone splashes their beautiful family pictures, work out selfies and Pinterest birthday parties all over the internet. I have done this too: my child’s first birthday was a fabulous fiesta, and I always choose the best picture to post on social media; I work out, and I have posted about it on Facebook.


One evening, I was sitting in my car in the drive-thru at McDonald's and my 2-year-old was screaming “FRENCH FRIES!” from his car seat at a volume that could only be described as ear-splitting. It was the end of a really long work day, and his heckling was hard to ignore. Since the McDonald's lines in my city move very slowly, my car was in park, I decided to peruse Instagram. One of my friends was at New York Fashion Week, sitting at the show of a very well-known designer and posting pictures of the latest fashion trends...She was at Fashion Week. In New York. And, I was in the drive-thru at a McDonald’s. In Kentucky. With a toddler in the backseat screaming about fried potatoes.

I literally laughed out loud when I realized that crying wouldn’t make me feel any better. That’s when I decided it was time to write about real life.

Because it’s okay to show the hard side of life and being a parent and to admit that we don’t always do it perfectly.

Expectations for a modern parent are so high, and there are so many things we are supposed to do, like:

• Have a successful career while being a great free-range, non-helicopter parent

• Throw Pinterest-worthy parties with homemade piñatas that look like Minions or Moana

• Attend other Pinterest-worthy parties

• Actually remember to bring gifts to those parties

• Keep a clean house

• Pay the bills and keep the family on a balanced budget

• Have a hobby that involves something more than wine or napping

• Do the laundry and iron things so your family actually has clean clothes

• Attend church in those ironed clothes

• Drink protein shakes and work out 3-5 times a week

• Volunteer

• Garden, and join a garden club, and attend the monthly meetings during your lunch break

• Sign up your kids for at least three extra-curricular activities a year, and coach at least one of them or be team mom

• Hand out juice boxes and orange slices after these activities

• Have informed political opinions

• Replace all cleaning products with non-GMO -HPA -BTC -RGU -TMP products that could be safely consumed by your baby, if your house was not already completely baby proofed

• Wear the latest fashion trends and full makeup at all times

• Attend hot yoga without sweating

• Enjoy every moment with your kids and take them to the zoo or some sort of festival every weekend to make memories

• Learn to be a minimalist

• Never get sick

• Always be on time

• Be more like Joanna Gaines in every way possible

• Not complain about any of the above

What I am trying to say is, don’t let what people post on social media get you down. Remember it isn’t real life. It is the highlight reel of everyone else’s lives. Never let it make you feel inadequate. Because you are an amazing mom for so many more reasons—

Even if your favorite TV show is Bachelor in Paradise and you were really upset when you thought it might actually be canceled this summer.

Even if your house is not open-concept with a farmhouse sink and shiplap and a handmade kitchen table made by a man named Clint.

Even if you have never tried one craft you pinned on Pinterest.

Even if the last time you attended Pilates class was six years ago, and you fell off one of those really big stability balls you are supposed to sit on.

Even if you still clean your house with Windex and Lysol.

And to all the moms who are accomplishing any of the items listed above, you are rocking it. For real. I wish I could manage it all, but I can’t. And that’s okay. Because I’m doing the best I can, and I’m pretty proud of myself for it.

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.


This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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