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14 ways—and 1 amazing company—that help you spend less time on your to-do list, mama 🙌

A recent study found that the average mom works about 98 hours per week. (Hey, we believe it!) But with a few simple tweaks, you can get back some extra time for yourself and your family every month.

Here are 14 ways to speed up chores, curb toddler meltdowns, and help you feel a bit breezier this week.

1. Color code toy baskets

Can you imagine a world where you kids picked up their own toys? (It's possible, promise!) Color-coding baskets makes it easier for little ones to quickly put everything back in its place. Example: blocks go in the blue basket and cars go in the green.

Time saved per month: Up to 3 hours

2. Let Gobble handle dinner prep tonight

Skip the grocery shopping and chopping altogether with deliciously prepped and portioned meal ingredients delivered right to your door by Gobble. Each meal comes together in three steps, meaning dinner is on the table in 15 minutes (and no chopping means you can cook even with a toddler on your hip).

Time saved: Up to 7 hours

Click here to get 50% off your first Gobble dinner kit for a limited time this summer.

3. Make it easier for them to get snacks

Protect kids with food allergies by keeping a magnetic sheet of color stickers on the fridge—gluten-free snacks get a purple sticker, peanut-free get a yellow sticker, etc. Plus, with everything clearly marked, they won't need your help to get a healthy snack.

Time saved per month: Up to 30 minutes

4. Pre-portion snacks ahead of time

Rather than scrambling to get the goldfish crackers in a plastic baggie every morning before the school bus arrives, take five minutes when you get home from the grocery store to separate out snack-sized portions you can grab and go during the morning rush.

Time saved: Up to 1 hour

5. Set up recurring online deliveries

Especially in the couple years of your child's life, there are a few items you can virtually guarantee you'll need every month. (Think: diapers, wipes, paper towels, etc.) Take advantage of subscription delivery services like Amazon to save yourself a monthly trip.

Time saved: Up to 2 hours

6. Cut back on the laundry time suck

Rather than washing every item of clothing after it's worn, put the not-really-dirty items back in the drawer for a second wearing. They're mostly clean anyway, and it can cut your laundry in half every week. (And we won't tell, promise!)

Time saved: Up to 2 hours

7. Create after school bags

Skip the after school scramble! Every Sunday night, put together separate bags for each school day complete with afternoon snacks and supplies for that day's activities, like piano lessons or soccer practice.

Time saved per week: Up to 3 hours

8. Create a "signature station"

Hang a clipboard near the front door where your kids can clip permission slips, report cards, and anything else that requires your signature. Every night post-bedtime, spend five minutes tackling the stack—and avoid a morning scramble to sign before the bus arrives.

Time saved per week: Up to 30 minutes

9. Prep meals the night before

Wash and chop fruit, set each place setting, and put out vitamins the night before so it's easier to get breakfast on the table in the morning. Try whipping up some oatmeal + yogurt parfaits in mason jars that each person can grab from the fridge, or bake a pan of egg soufflés in a muffin tin you can keep reheat in the morning.

Time saved per week: Up to 2 hours

10. Streamline dressing your toddler every day

"Dressing your toddler" and "speed" are rarely words used in the same sentence, but this hack can help. Store full outfits (socks and accessories included) in sandwich bags in the drawers. In the morning, simply grab, dress, and go!

Time saved per week: Up to 2 hours

11. Create a car emergency kit

How many times have you been this close to leaving the house when…a diaper blew up? You realized you forgot wipes? Your toddler spilled something on his shirt? Fill a plastic bin with extra clothes, diapers, wipes, first aid items, and bottles of water and keep it in the trunk for emergencies. Pro tip: Set a timer in your phone to update the clothing sizes in six months so you don't forget.

Time saved per week: Up to 3 hours

12. Become a minimalist

Rather than spending hours per week cleaning up toys and searching closets for clothes, spend a weekend paring down your belongings until it only takes a few minutes to find everything or put it in its place.

Time saved per week: Up to 3 hours

13. Designate time to catch up on email and social media

If you feel like you're wasting too much time online, block out 30 minutes every day to catch up on your feeds and respond to personal emails. Try right after your kids' bedtime—if you're like us, your brain usually needs a few minutes to unwind then anyway.

Time saved per week: Up to 4 hours

14. Prevent shopping meltdowns

There's nothing like a toddler tantrum to make a quick trip into Target take over an hour. The next time your little one throws a fit over a toy they want, offer to take a picture on your phone to "send to Santa or Grandma" so they have it in mind for the next gift they buy. (Bonus: You'll already have a running list for the next birthday or Christmas!)

Time saved per week: Up to 1 hour

Whether you win back 34 hours or only 3 this week—more time together is always something to celebrate. Nice work, mama!

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.

$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

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.

$40

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.

$120

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

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

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.

$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

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.

$179

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.

$100

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.

$33

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.

$88

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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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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."

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