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75 activities to cherish while your child is still little

My kids—gloriously, wondrously, delightfully—think I’m cool.


I dyed my hair blue nearly a year ago and recently I transitioned it to purple. My 6-year-old wasn’t annoyed or embarrassed, like maybe she could have been in another decade. Instead, she picked out purple glasses to match my hair and told me that now all she needs is purple hair to match.

Then, when I, too, chose new glasses for myself—purple and like her glasses—she was beyond ecstatic to be Matchy-Matchy with Mommy. Because I’m still cool.

I’m aware it won’t always be like this. There will be, minimally, a stretch of years in high school where Mom will be anti-cool. I’m not prepared for it, so much as expecting it.

In the meanwhile, I want to do these 75 things—while I still easily can.

1. Let them in. Let them know and understand who I am, so they hopefully reciprocate as they grow.

2. Cover their soft skin in kisses.

3. Hold them when they cry.

4. Teach them to breathe through emotions that feel too big to handle.

5. Play dolls.

6. Color instead of doing the housework, at least from time to time.

7. Really listen to them when they talk to me, because even the most seemingly small stories they share often have pieces of who they are growing up to be buried inside.

8. Let them practice yoga with me when they want to, even if it means I physically get less out of it.

9. Slow down and let them walk.

10. Teach them to ask for help.

11. Teach them they can do so much on their own.

12. Let them wear the tutu over the sweatpants, even if I think it looks ridiculous.

13. Let them buy a shirt from the boy/girl section so they learn to appreciate their own and others’ gender fluidity.

14. Help them see the fun of rainy days.

15. Put my phone down and look them in the eyes when they talk to me, so I can expect this from them later.

16. Teach them manners, so they can show respect for others and themselves.

17. Laugh at their silly jokes.

18. Remember they are not me.

19. Read tons of books with them.

20. Help with puzzles, even though I’ve never liked puzzles.

21. Say “no” when it needs to be said, even if it’s harder for me in the moment.

22. Say “yes” when it needs to be said, even if it’s harder for me in the moment.

23. Play in the snow.

24. Jump through the sprinkler.

25. Never make them kiss and hug anyone so they learn who is in charge of their bodies—themselves.

26. Enjoy, as much as possible, my constant bathroom companions while they still love my company so much, I can’t even go to the bathroom alone.

27. Sing along to their favorite songs with them since right now they think Mommy has the prettiest voice.

28. Never dismiss what they like, even if it’s “Caillou.”

29. Show them we all have bad days, but that a bad day doesn’t equal a bad life.

30. Show them to look for the hidden happiness that exists within every ordinary day.

31. Watch them dance, and wiggle and move to music in that open way only little kids can.

32. Dance with them.

33. Teach them to work with what they’ve got, not against it. (Like my daughter’s curly hair, for example.)

34. Be positive about my own body with them.

35. Teach them to use the correct words for body parts—like vagina, penis and breasts—instead of crude, or cute, nicknames.

36. Help make potentially stressful mornings of getting everyone ready for the day in a short period of time feel fun and productive by shouting “We did it!” together.

37. Support my husband’s parenting in front of them.

38. Let them remind me how the simplest of life’s experiences—like watching the sun rise from between the trees while we wait for the school bus—becomes incredible with a fresh perspective.

39. Crouch down next to my toddler to watch her be fascinated by a bug.

40. Be a safe place for them.

41. Dress up on Halloween.

42. Get excited about the holidays—remember to share in their enthusiasm rather than seeing the ways holidays can be difficult for adults.

43. Appreciate our differences.

44. Take charge of my own feelings by, for instance, saying “I’m so mad” instead of “You’re making me so mad.”

45. Value kindness.

46. Dye my hair purple. Even though I’m 37. Show them how to take care of our individuality while respecting society as a whole.

47. Celebrate every single birthday.

48. Celebrate every single new laugh line.

49. Stop and look into their eyes and always be appreciative that I get to share their childhoods with them.

50. Maintain my own interests and hobbies as much as possible so they learn to prioritize both self-care and hard work.

51. Show them some goals take daily effort and time to finish, like when I write books or when they practice new skills like reading and writing.

52. Show them where and how the world and people aren’t being treated equally, and teach them to believe we should feel a responsibility to help.

53. Teach them to care for our possessions, but not to place too much value in things.

54. Take time to hug.

55. Tell them how much I love being their Mommy.

56. Show them how much I love being their Mommy.

57. Occasionally take days “off” from social media—without grand announcements—to remember the importance and beauty of “real” life.

58. Eat the birthday cake.

59. Make new traditions for them and our family.

60. Pass down traditions that are meaningful to me.

61. Look with awe at the moon.

62. Be in awe of the seasons.

63. Never stop playing.

64. Expect them to explore their uncomfortable emotions, like anger and sadness.

65. Always have at least one “impossible” dream.

66. Always make a wish on the stars.

67. Celebrate others’ successes with them.

68. Teach our daughters how to admire the beauty of other women rather than be envious of them.

69. Remember what makes us uniquely beautiful, too.

70. Try to see their fears and joys from their youthful perspective and not my own experiences.

71. Teach them to value the strength of their own voices and to balance this with listening to others.

72. Remind them I love them and their company, but I am their parent.

73. Teach them how to disagree while being respectful.

74. Don’t keep everything special and fun for the weekend.

75. Be present with them when it’s hard, when it’s wonderful, and when it’s just another normal day with them while they’re still little.

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We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

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

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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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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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