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5 overlooked joys my toddler has taught me to appreciate

Your toddler’s perspective can be eye-opening.

5 overlooked joys my toddler has taught me to appreciate

Once a week, my daughter wakes up giddy because she knows…it’s trash day. She runs outside when she hears them, yelling, “Trasshh!” as she sprints out the door. She crouches down and stares like she is observing wildlife, as the mechanical arm catapults the trash can in the air. She yells, “Trash! Ew!” and, “Wow!” as nearly every trash can thuds.


While I don’t find this event quite as exciting as she does, I do my best to crouch down alongside, settle into it and enjoy the moment with her. As moms, we have more life experience and knowledge than our kids do. But kids have something we don’t—fresh perspective.

Here are five other joys my toddler has reminded me to appreciate:

1. The joy of staying awake

Every time I ask my daughter if she wants to go to bed, the answer is always a resounding “No,” even if her eyes are caving in on her. Unlike adults, kids hate sleep. Why? Because they don’t want to miss anything. They love just being alive and engaged with their surroundings.

While I value my sleep more highly than almost anything, I love this attitude. It’s like kids are secretly aware of how short our lives are and want to squeeze every last drop out of the day.

It’s a unique perspective—not to be overlooked.

2. The awe of…everything

Have you ever watched a child’s eyes during a fireworks show? It’s electric to observe their focus and amazement at the small explosions in the sky. I see this look in my daughter’s eye when she sees a flower, a new bug or—you guessed it—a trash truck. While I can’t say I always feel the same way, there’s something to be said for sitting back and watching our kid’s reactions to daily life.

There’s magic there.

3. Impatience

This may sound like a negative characteristic, and for the most part, you would be right. But again, there is a small part of the impatience that reveals the heart of passion for life. Everything is so crucial to them—and they are eager to grab hold of it.

4. Their need for us

While I’m aware the “I can do it myself” mode is coming soon, I’m noticing how often my daughter nuzzles up against me when she’s learning something new. I ask “Would you like some help?” The answer (for now) is almost always a resounding, “Yes!”

Whether they admit it or not, children know they have a deep need for help in their life. As adults, we almost forget this entirely, coming to believe we really can “do it on our own.”

It’s important to remember that no matter how old we are, we all need each other to get through life.

5. The joy of sugar

Yes, too much sugar is a bad thing. But on those special days when we get a treat, I just love watching my daughter’s face—it’s like she’s never tasted anything like it (and maybe she hasn’t). It’s truly a joyful thing to watch.

Looking at life through your kid’s eyes doesn’t come naturally. But doing so will give you greater insight into your child’s soul, increase your patience for their shortcomings, and remind you to take joy in the little things.

Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

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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I have two kids—and I think I'm done

The idea of "more," making more money, obtaining more things—and in my case, creating more life—is not necessarily the ticket to a happier life.

I met my best friend Katie in fifth grade and one of our most favorite games to play was MASH. Our future fates would be decided by one "magic number" where one of us counted the rings on a spiral circle after the other screamed STOP as loud as humanly possible. "Future Husband" and "Number of Children" were clearly our two favorite categories. I remember my "magic combination," and it was marrying Mel Gibson plus having four kids.

And my plan was to do all of this by the time I reached 27. Getting married and having children would be the ultimate climax of life. At the age of nine, the pressure was on to best prepare for the long climb to the top.

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