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My child is having a boring summer and he loves it

Mostly he putters around the yard, plays with the hose, finds toads and bugs and locust shells and cool rocks, shimmys up the door frames, attempts to dismantle the house, and, admittedly, has way too much screen time. In other words, the same kind of summers I had as a kid.

My child is having a boring summer and he loves it

A few weeks ago, I looked out the kitchen window into our scruffy backyard, littered with toys and bicycles. And I saw my 5-year-old son, deeply immersed in his endeavor, taping rectangles of cardboard to his feet with miles and miles of masking tape. (I long ago gave up on keeping him from the tape—and the scissors, despite more than one hair-cutting incident.)

He explained to me that he was making "Ant Smashers." He had a snack sitting on the patio, and the Ant Smashers™ allowed him to protect his picnic from the encroaching insect population. (Yes, it is rather violent, but anybody who has a boy like mine understands that some level of violence just comes with the territory.)

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He had requested that Daddy cut these same cardboard rectangles earlier in the day to be wings for his cardboard box airplane. Completely his design and his idea. And it really did look like an airplane, one just his size.

As he demonstrated the Ant Smashers™ for me, I wondered: if he had been in expensive camps and programs all summer, would he have had the chance to create them?


Because our summer has been pretty boring.

Mostly he putters around the yard, plays with the hose, finds toads and bugs and locust shells and cool rocks, shimmys up the door frames, attempts to dismantle the house, and, admittedly, has way too much screen time.

In other words, the same kind of summers I had as a kid.

Some days, I have felt really, really guilty about that.

Guilty that he's not getting the opportunities other kids are getting.

Guilty that he's missing out on whiz-bang entertainment.

Guilty that he has to spend a boring old summer with boring old mom.

But if he had been doing something else, would he have ever created his Ant Smashers™? If he didn't have time to be bored, would he discover so much about the world around him? Would he be interested in cool rocks and bugs and the toad that lives in our bushes (whom we've dubbed "Dennis Hopper")?

They are not as exciting as manta rays and cheetahs, but they are part of HIS own world, right in his backyard. If he is constantly entertained with amazing animals or cool science experiments or brain-building activities—all conceived of and supervised by adults—how will he ever appreciate the wonder that is already all around him? How will he ever learn to find that wonder on his own?

When I hear some parents say, "my kids aren't very good at entertaining themselves," I can't help but wonder if have they had a chance to learn how to do that.

Please don't misunderstand me: parenting is a tough job, and we all have to find what works for us. And I know it's a luxury to even have the option of letting my son putter at home because I work from home. Parents who work full-time outside the home don't have that freedom, I know.

I'm just saying that we should not feel GUILTY about having a "boring" summer. We are giving them the gift of play.

And study after study shows that that's exactly what kids need most. Not flash cards, not spelling drills, not teaching more difficult material that is developmentally inappropriate, and certainly NOT more standardized tests.

They need free, unsupervised play, in which they create the games, they make up the rules, they decide things for themselves, they work out problems amongst themselves without adults swooping in and "fixing" everything for them. (As long as it doesn't get violent—or, in the case of my son and his cousins, as long as there is no profuse bleeding.)

Play is truly the work of childhood. Play is what builds intelligence, resilience, creativity, communication skills.

[Originally posted on The Wild Word. It has been edited.]

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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