10 absolutely free gifts to request this year, mama

We've got the answer to: "What do you want?"

best gifts for moms
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If you're a mama, you know the holiday season can be nearly as stressful and overwhelming as it is joyful. Let's be honest here: So much of the mental labor tends to fall on a mama's shoulder, especially when it comes to choosing thoughtful gifts for everyone on a family's wish list... in many cases, mothers even need to choose (and drop serious hints about) her own presents.

But here we are in 2020. For many families, money is tight. In almost every family, tensions are running high due to all the stress we've faced this year. Mamas everywhere are exhausted, trying to manage their households, careers, virtual learning, their kids' mask-wearing and social-distancing measures and so much more... often all at once.

I think we can all agree on one thing: What mamas really need (and deserve) this year is a break.

So if you're looking to save some money and would rather have a bit of time to yourself (maybe even enough to catch up on all the TV shows you've been neglecting!) instead of a new purse, here are a few gifts you could request this year. Whether you ask your partner, your parents or even your kids to gift these options to you, they won't break the bank... and will allow you to indulge in a bit of the self-care you so deserve, mama.

A week of no diaper duty

Just imagine. An entire week of simply handing your not-yet-potty-trained children over every time their diapers are stinky or wet... it sounds like a beautiful, beautiful dream. And that dream can be your reality if you request this gift. If a week seems too ambitious, consider requesting a day or a weekend instead.

An at-home spa day

I love this idea of requesting this from your own mom or sister. Have the gift-giver set up a station complete for an at-home spa session: Candles, light music, a face mask, a fluffy robe, a cup of herbal tea, maybe even some cucumber-infused water. As long as you have all these items at home, this is a cost-free gift. And if you don't have a fancy face mask on hand, consider a DIY option. A babysitting session should be a part of this gift so you can simply relax.

A month's worth of weekly coffee in bed

Ask your partner to commit to bringing you a steamy cup of coffee in bed very single Sunday morning for a full month. Who knows? Maybe it'll even become a habit. That coffee is best enjoyed while your partner gets your kids ready for the day. Just think: You can drink that precious liquid while it's still hot.

All the photos on your phone and computer organized at last

I jokingly refer to myself as "family historian" since I take and manage nearly every photo of my children. Most mamas can probably relate. But this year, request a loved one to go through all the photos on your phone and get rid of the ones you don't need to hold on to, categorize the good ones, maybe organize them by year, age or occasion. Or, even better...

Pictures you're actually in for a change!

You could request an impromptu photo session of anyone who can use an iPhone. The rule? The gift-giver has to click a certain number of approved photos of you (with or without your family members. You decide!).

A fancy home-cooked dinner (that isn't cooked by YOU, of course)

This one is sort of a classic, but for good reason. Requesting a delicious home-cooked meal that you have absolutely nothing to do with is exactly what mamas need right now. The most important part of this gift? You should not have to weigh in on a single thing. The gift-giver must choose the meal, get all the groceries, figure out how to prepare it, serve it to you and handle all clean-up. No "what-should-I-make-you-for-your-special-dinner?" type questions allowed. And while technically this does require a bit of money spent, we'll allow it since food is a necessity.

A Zoom night with friends

Having virtual dates with our friends can be game-changing as we deal with pandemic isolation, but let's face it: Planning the occasion can be kind of a pain. Request someone else to take care of all the logistics (especially the back-and-forth of trying to find a time that works for everyone involved). You just show up and have a wonderful time.

A "fancy Friday"

If you're anything like me, you miss getting dressed up. Leggings are great and all, but wearing a nice outfit and maybe even some lipstick sounds wonderful as this pandemic continues to rage. If you share this sentiment, ask your family to commit to a "fancy Friday" where everyone gets super dressed up, even if just to eat dinner at home.

A movie marathon of your choosing

Make your kiddos promise to watch all your family-friendly favorite movies under a blanket with you.... doesn't a day without hearing the theme song of whatever show they're obsessed with at the moment sound nice? And don't beat yourself up for allowing them extra screen time, mama!

A home project you've been meaning to get to taken off your hands

If you've been thinking of reorganizing your pantry or overhauling your children's' toy station, feel free to ask someone to take this off your hands as a holiday gift. And you can use all that precious time you'll save to actually read that book on your nightstand!

The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

Conz Preti

Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


Belly oil

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

$58

Belly mask

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

$42

Nipple + lip ointment 

HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

$28

Belly tattoos

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

$18

This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

You've got this.

Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

The Motherly Birth Class

pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

$79

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

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are 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 indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

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

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

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

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

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-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.

$19.95

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

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

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.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

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.

$79.99

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

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15 stylish back-to-school haircuts for kids

Give them back-to-school confidence with a fresh new style.

Jetta Productions Inc / Getty

With a fresh haircut, your child can get a major confidence boost in time for the first day of school. With back-to-school season in full swing, book those hair appointments soon in time for classes to be in session. Whether your child wants a simple haircut, an intricate hair style, or even hair dye for kids, there are plenty of options to consider before school starts.

Boost confidence for the first day of school with one of these hair cuts for kids.


1. Fringe

An easy way to create a whole new look is to add fringe. Piecey bangs over the forehead can give your child extra confidence as they prepare for the first day of school.

2. Fade

For shorter styles, the fade is a popular haircut for kids these days. Plus, with summer's high temperatures still in full swing during back-to-school season, this hairstyle will also keep kids cool.

3. Bob

Another cooling option, the shorter bob style offers a lot of versatility. Go for a short bob with a length that lands around the ears, or keep it long for a "lob" that hits just above the shoulders.

4. Hidden undercut

This hairstyle involves shaving the hair around the bottom half of the back of the head. It usually often includes shaving a pattern. With hair left down, you can't tell this cool feature is there, but pull hair up into a ponytail or bun, and the pattern is an artistic addition to any hairstyle.

5. Braids

Try out classic braids in natural hair for a protective style that is also long-lasting with easy maintenance. Add beads or bows for a cute addition that will complement any first-day outfits, too.

6. Mohawk

For a spunky look, shave hair into a mohawk that is longer on top and shorter on the sides. Use gel to style the mohawk, including in the iconic spikes that stand straight up.



7. Faux hawk

If your child isn't quite committed to shaving the sides of their head, you can also try a temporary faux hawk by pulling hair taut along the sides of the head and pinning it into place with longer pieces on top. This also works great with curly hair.

8. Crop

The crop is a simple, straightforward hairstyle that will look fresh for the first day of school and will also be easy to care for each morning. That's right—finally, no fights about brushing the hair before the bus comes!

9. Hair dye for kids

If your child is more experimental, you might try temporary hair dye for kids. Let them choose their favorite color, and add a few stripes throughout their hair for a bold but school-appropriate hairstyle.

10. Quiff

The quiff features a long, side-swept top with shorter, often faded sides. It's an on-trend look that isn't overly fussy, although a little gel or pomade in the mornings can help keep the longer hair on top stay in place.

11. Deva cut

You love those perfectly curly ringlets in your child's hair, so take care of them with the proper haircut! The Deva cut is designed especially for naturally curly hair. It involves the stylist cutting dry hair, so they can better shape hair to the natural curls. The result? Full, bouncy curls that will give your child all the confidence they need for heading back to school.

12. Pixie

A tousled pixie haircut for kids will look stylish and refined with minimal effort. Plus, it's a shorter style that will keep kids cool as they run around outside for recess.

13. Asymmetrical

An asymmetrical cut will offer a unique, interesting style that plays well with a variety of different hair textures and thicknesses. Plus, you can easily accessories with various clips or bows on one side.

14. Buns

As far as hairstyles for kids goes, buns can be as easy or complex as you'd like. Pull all the hair back into one chic, effortless messy bun, or add braids and hair accessories for a more formal look.

15. Crew cut

The classic crew cut will offer an adorable and timeless look. It's an especially great style for kids with thicker hair.

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