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Choosing joy over anger isn’t easy—but it’s oh-so worth it

When you choose to be joyful, you attract joy like a magnet. 

Choosing joy over anger isn’t easy—but it’s oh-so worth it

I typically don’t read many Facebook status updates—and I especially don’t read them multiple times—but this particular one stopped me cold. It was an observation shared by my friend Nicki Salcedo. Whether penning a novel, an op-ed piece or a Facebook status update, Nicki’s words never fail to provide enlightenment and introspection.


This was Nicki’s informal, yet powerful observation:

“Nighttime soccer practice. I see a family I know. They have back-to- back practices for their girls. That amounts to three hours of soccer on a Tuesday night.

Me: “Wow, you guys have a long night.”

Dad: “Yeah, but I’ve got to head over and cut my son’s hair. He has cancer. He’s in the hospital. I’m going to Northside.”

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It is 7:30 pm at night. We live across town from that hospital. The dad leaves. He calls his daughter the best nickname when she plays. He admits he doesn’t know much about soccer, but he’s learning.

I think about all these angry parents. Angry people. For what? They have everything and want more.

The quiet ones simply enjoy seeing their kids kick a ball.”

It was no mystery why I read Nicki’s observation three times.

Nor was it any mystery why her words made me cry.

I was that angry person.

I know because my husband had the courage to tell me. Something along the lines of: You walk around the house looking angry all the time. Your face is always set in a scowl.

He’d said it before–probably a bit more subtly the first or second time–but I always shrugged it off. After all, my husband didn’t know what my life was like. He had no idea the amount of tasks and responsibilities I managed, handled and completed. The fact that he didn’t angered me even more.

Getting ready for my children’s sports practices and events really brought out the monster in me. As I prepared the necessary items, navigated traffic and unfamiliar roads and set up chairs and coolers, my scowl was securely in place. I could manufacture a smile when someone outside the family approached us. My husband had once mentioned I saved my smiles for the outside world. That one hurt, but it didn’t change my approach. Perpetually Irritated By Life had become my jam.

I remember sitting in my pop-up chair at my daughter Avery’s mini-kicker soccer practice one Sunday afternoon. It was too hot for September, it was too disorganized for little kids, it was too expensive for what we were getting... Why are we even here? I grumbled to myself.

In stark contrast to me was Avery’s beautiful and vibrant young soccer coach guiding my child with positive words and a loving tone. I saw the way my stop-and-smell-the-roses child gravitated toward Coach Lindsey whose smile was brighter than the sun they played beneath.

I didn’t know Lindsey well, but I could tell just by watching her that it would take a lot to ruffle her feathers. Some people are just joyful like that.

Other people aren’t.

Other people choose to become that way.

While watching the beautiful connection happening between a joyful little girl and a joyful young woman, I felt something stir inside me. That day, noticing their mutual joy was better than watching the clock, the score or the many annoyances going around me.

On the final practice of the season, Coach Lindsey walked up to me with her business card. “I don’t usually do this, but if you ever need a babysitter for your precious girls, I would love to babysit. I just adore Avery, and I bet Natalie is just as delightful,” she said.

I felt myself tear up. Our family was still fairly new to the area and we had no family nearby. I had yet to find a babysitter I felt I could trust. But with my husband traveling most of the week, I was often exhausted. Lindsey’s offer felt providential. I accepted with gratitude.

Lindsey quickly became our go-to sitter, never failing to show up with an abundance of joy. When she stepped into our house, the environment lightened, brightened and lifted. That’s what joyful people do.

When I returned from my evening outings, Lindsey and I would often stand on the porch and she would tell me all the little details she noticed about my girls. She couldn’t believe the way Avery could sing and play the ukulele. She couldn’t get over her delightful disposition. With my older daughter Natalie, she was amazed at the thoughtful questions she asked at bedtime and the care and concern she had for adult issues like poverty, homelessness and war.

Under the porch light, I’d soak up every good and precious thing Lindsey noticed about my children–the beautiful details I failed to see in my perpetually irritated state.

I needed a new goal. I realized one night as Lindsey drove away.

Because when you base your happiness on tasks being completed, notes being in pitch, plans running accordingly and hairs being in place, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.

I wanted my goal to be joy: Did I see it? Did I grasp it? Did I exude it? Did I personify it? Did I spread it?

Only love today.”

“See flowers not weeds.”

“A little more time can be a miraculous thing.”

“Happiness beats perfection.”

“Have my loved ones heard me laugh today?”

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I created several positive mantras I could recite in my mind, post on my walls, and write on my hand. I practiced them over and over, especially prior to situations when my irritable monster typically came out.

Throughout the past five years, these mantras have loosened my tightly wound inner fiber, softened my heart and altered my perspective, but I am a work in progress. My Type-A, task-driven, highly-efficient self still has her moments. Just this weekend, as I became lost on my way to a swim meet, I felt rage bubbling up inside me. Unexpectedly, a new mantra popped into my head:

“Why so angry? I have everything and want more.”

They were Nicki’s words and they helped me breathe. I turned and smiled at my little girl who is not so little anymore and said, “We’ll, get there, baby. Thanks for being patient with me.”

Avery flashed me her joyful smile. Thank God, she didn’t have to brace herself for curse words, squealing tires and angry tears. This was a better way.

My friends, my scowling days are a period of my life that I’d rather not speak of, but I felt compelled to talk about it today. I’ve noticed there are a lot of angry people–not just on soccer fields and baseball diamonds, but also in parking lots, subways, checkout lines, churches and arenas. There are angry people waiting for elevators, walking down corridors, posting on social media and standing behind podiums. Perhaps there’s an angry person living in your house, inhabiting your body. Quick to anger is becoming our jam.

I’d like to gently point out there’s a better way.

Because things look a lot different when you lose the scowl.

Because things look a lot different when you notice there’s a human being taking in those angry words.

Because things look a lot different when you hold your current annoyance against the fragility of life.

Perhaps a new goal is in order.

Choosing to be joyful so you attract joy like a magnet.

Choosing to be joyful so it shows on your face and in your words.

Choosing to be joyful because that’s where the real living’s at.

I’ve heard from a reliable source there’s nothing that’ll ease your troubles like watching a happy child kick a ball on a crisp autumn evening.

I think that sounds about right.

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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

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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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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