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I wanted to be the mom that gave 110% on everything—but that left nothing for *me*

Even when Elliot started sleeping through the night, I didn't. I would wake up around 4 am to pump under moonlight, worried my milk supply would drop.

I wanted to be the mom that gave 110% on everything—but that left nothing for *me*

When Elliot was born, I thought being a mom meant giving 110% on every single task. I kept floors spotless months before he could crawl. I ate up parenting podcasts and books at every turn. I was all too happy to give my husband pointers (commands?) when his swaddling technique differed from my own. Mother knows best, after all.

I thought that the more time I spent learning about parenting, the better I was at it.

When Elliot napped, I rarely did the same. There was always more to be done! And if I didn't get it all done, I wasn't a good enough mom. Or so I told myself.

That's the constant struggle with perfectionists. We hear “good" and we think “could be better." There is no “good enough" in the perfectionist's compendium.

The lack of sleep didn't help. It stirred my anxiety around the clock. Even when Elliot started sleeping through the night, I didn't. I would wake up around 4 am to pump under moonlight, worried my milk supply would drop.

When Elliot started eating solids, I made everything by hand. I wanted to maximize the “flavor window" and was determined to fill it with apples and peaches and lentils and squash. I took pride in steaming and pureeing organic kale. He loved it. (Just kidding.) As he got older, I soaked and skinned almonds to make almond milk. I briefly explored raising chickens in the backyard.

Looking back, these behaviors seem a bit much, but at the time, they felt vital to my survival.

When Elliot turned 6 months old, I went back to work—terrified of not being able to keep up with home life on top of work life, but insistent on not letting anything slip.

It was impossible. Dishes piled up. Dust bunnies taunted. I felt guilty on the nights we ordered takeout. I felt bad when new recipes were just meh.

My quest to do everything the best and be everything to my little one was sucking joy and energy from my life.

One morning I awoke with a horrible stomachache. Fever...chills...I wanted to dive under the covers and watch rom coms. But we host a nanny share at our small San Francisco apartment, and there was nowhere to hide. So I went to work. By 10 am, I was deteriorating fast. I left the office, unsure where I would go. It was raining, and I had no umbrella.

As I passed two women, I overheard them discussing a faulty umbrella. At a red light, I saw that one of them was Oscar (and Emmy and Tony) winner Francis McDormand, of Fargo fame. She tossed her umbrella—her navy blue Muji, covered-in-Hollywood-fingerprints umbrella—in the trash.

As they walked on, I pulled it out of the bin, figuring a busted umbrella was better than none at all. I opened it, it closed. I tried again, harder this time, and it snapped into place.

VICTORY! But...I still felt awful. I texted a few friends and found one who was home. I curled up on her sofa, and she brought me tea while I explained the story of my newest accessory.

I didn't care if her house was clean or if her tea was organic. I just needed someone to take care of me.

Years from now, Elliot isn't going to care whether I made all of his meals from scratch, or if his toys occasionally found their way into the dog's mouth. He's going to remember the time we spent playing, the forts we built, the books we read.

Elliot's now a year and a half old. I have resolved to do less and to care less (which still sometimes feels like failure.) I still don't nap when he does, but sometimes I read a book or watch TV. And yesterday, instead of cleaning the floor, I bought more socks.

As a mom, I have learned to compromise with myself. It's not easy, but I'm learning.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall 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 outside-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.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden 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

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective 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

    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

    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

    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

    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: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

    Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

    Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

    Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

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    Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

    "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

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