No, I don't have time to make summer magical, I'm just trying to get through

I'm sure I will forever remember this summer, but not for the reasons I wanted to.

No, I don't have time to make summer magical, I'm just trying to get through

Summer is my favorite season. I get to wear my favorite outfits, eat my favorite foods and most importantly hang out outside all day long. I power through throughout the year just to get to those warm summer days.

After becoming a mom summer became even more special because I get to share all those fun activities with my kids. They all love playing with sand, dipping their toes in all bodies of water, getting splashed around by their dad and running through sprinklers. Lunch picnics were a thing last summer. So were family cookouts, outings to our favorite ice cream shop and hanging out with friends with same-aged kids at the park or local brewery.

This summer, however, comes with the added stress of dealing with a global pandemic. Yet everyone is telling us, parents, that we still need to make it magical for our kids. I get it. They need it. We all need it. But as many working parents of multiple aged children know, I don't have the time —or even the energy— to make this season magical.


Instead, you can find me worrying about the very delicate balancing act that requires keeping three children under the age of three stuck at home all day with two working parents without any help.

You can find me worrying about how a second wave is approaching, frustrated that the last several months we spent in total isolation were practically for nothing.

You can find me worrying about how to stay focused at work while also preparing food for everyone and making sure my kids are not fighting too much.

On top of all that I'm supposed to build forts, make our backyard (yes, we are lucky to have one) an amusement park, schedule virtual playdates (because we are still staying isolated, I'm not risking it), keep everyone engaged so they hit their developmental milestones and don't forget to have fun.

Sorry. I can't.
My wallet can't.
My brain can't.
I don't have the energy, I just

And trust me, it is not that I don't want to. I do. So badly. After all, we only have 18 summers with our kids and we all know how fast they grow up. Before I realize it, the toddler that loves chalk painting with me on our sidewalk will be driving to his friend's place to chill without me being around. My babies who love to be plopped under a tree and see their big brother chase the dogs in circles will soon be running all over the place and be hard to happily contain.

I want to enjoy this first summer as a family of five so badly, but I just can't.

I have to keep focusing on staying away from everyone we love so we are all healthy and virus-free.

I have to keep doing my job as best as I possibly can to avoid losing it in the middle of a historic unemployment crisis.

I have to keep telling my family that no, they can't come to help us or meet the babies because we don't want them to be exposed to this deadly virus.

I have to keep hoping that my state will be proactive and we won't see numbers skyrocket again, because my mental health cannot and will not be able to handle it.

I'm sure I will forever remember this summer, but not for the reasons I wanted to. Hopefully next summer I will be able to make it up to everyone. Right now I just can't, and I forgive myself for that.

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

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.


I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

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