Dear friends: I promise I'll be back, but right now I have little ones to take care of

With two, my hands, my heart, my head all are full.

Dear friends: I promise I'll be back, but right now I have little ones to take care of

Dear friends,

I miss you.

It feels like we haven't seen each other in ages. It's been too long since we stayed up too late, laughing 'til we cry and foraging for salty snacks from the far back reaches of our pantries.

It's been forever since our last happy hour or leisurely brunch and I can't remember the last time we took a meandering walk or met up spontaneously just because.

I'll be back, I promise.

This first year with my second kid is a doozy, I tell you. Or I will tell you when I get back from this alternate reality.

Because it feels like a journey out into a long-lost universe, only I'm the one that's lost, barely staying the course between newborn naps and preschool pickups.

You see, having these two small humans to love is magical. It's transformative and heart-melting and I also cannot keep my clothes spit-up free for more than a few minutes. Definitely not long enough to leave the house and pass as an adult who has everything together.

Going from one to two kids was easier for me than from zero to one (I suspect the big difference is that I escaped the shadow of postpartum depression this time around), but it is still all-consuming.

We used to hike with my firstborn in her carrier or go out to dinner while she slept in her car seat. How I miss those halcyon days; how little I appreciated their ease.

With two, my hands, my heart, my head all are full.

It's a physical challenge—somebody or somebodies are always attached to my body, seeking attention and nourishment and comfort.

It's mental absorption—just keeping track of the roving bodies and keeping them alive, not to mention stimulating their brains and souls.

It's a logistical quagmire—the razor-thin margins between overlapping nap schedules are packed with nursing and negotiating whether toddlers need to wear pants. Even on my most optimistic days, I recognize that leaving the house happens only when meticulous preparation collides with unthinkable good fortune.

Some moments feel like I'm overcapacity. I need four more hands and 16 more eyes and possibly an additional heart to soak up all these sweet-smelling squishy snuggles.

Sometimes I feel like supermom, totally handling this and everything that comes with it. Poop up the back of a screaming infant while a threenager melts down in the middle of a crosswalk on a busy street? I got this, I think. I am unruffled, capable.

Other times I wonder what in the world I've done to myself as I soothe fuss after tantrum and wonder when, if ever, I might shower, or step outside, alone. I wonder why I'm nursing all night instead of dancing 'til dawn.

And some moments, I find sudden stillness: When everyone is asleep longer than I expected, when I've crammed all of my to-do lists into all the space I thought I had, only to discover some spontaneous free time.

It's in those secret stolen moments I think, I should call my friend who I haven't spoken to in ages. And once I find my slobbered-upon phone and fire up my frazzled brain, a small someone is stirring and poof—there goes my moment.

Or I might sit, phone in hand, feeling guilt-wracked about how long it's been since I talked to you and also paralyzed by the very real possibility that the baby will start to squawk as soon as I find your name in my contacts.

I miss you, my friends, my grown-up people, I really do. And I'm sorry that I've vanished into this quiet homebound domesticity.

I'm starting to see the faint promise of a return: a time when I won't be so exhausted after the littles' bedtime that sending that text or—gasp—sneaking out for a drink or a late dinner will feel energizing and freeing.

I'm on the homeward journey and I can't wait to catch up and reconnect. I won't be able to tell you much about this year—too much has faded into sleepless and mom brain oblivion—but I will be so ready to hear about yours.

See you soon, my friends, and above all, thank you for your patience.


From the Shop

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.


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.


Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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