Dear mama—I know being the spirit of Christmas is exhausting

What I’m doing to keep the stress low and the magic abundant.

Dear mama—I know being the spirit of Christmas is exhausting

When did the most wonderful time of the year also become the most stressful time of the year?

I’m going to guess it was around the same time my name changed to “Mom.” Because the holidays aren’t just about me and my husband anymore—they’re about our children. And with that comes responsibility. (And lots of it.)

Even as I sit writing this, my to-do list is winking at me out of the corner of my eye. Taunting me, getting longer by the minute. And it’s making me a little bit breathless.

The tree is up, the wreath is on the door, Michael Buble is crooning “Santa Baby” from the speaker in the corner, and it’s Christmas! I want to enjoy it!


But on top of the usual, not insubstantial business of running our everyday lives (which, incidentally, doesn’t come to a stop this time of year), December brings with it a whole new set of obligations.

Order the turkey, organize teacher gifts, collect non-perishables for the charity drive, find/make Christmas concert outfits, pre-buy Secret Santa gifts for the office, get the tree up, plan the menu, get show tickets, think up new and creative things for the Elf to do, wrap approximately 1,343 gifts before Christmas Eve, bake All Of The Things, not completely lose your mind, and so on.

And—oh!—don’t forget: make it all magical. ✨

Around Christmas time my brain feels like my childhood imaginings of Santa’s Workshop: elves working overtime and machines whirring frantically—so much crashing and banging it’s hard to think straight.

My own mother did it for many years, never letting on how much hard work it was to produce the holiday traditions and memories that would live on in the hearts of her children. And now it’s my turn. I just wish someone had told me how hard it is. How demanding it can be.

Except maybe I don’t wish that. Maybe I’m grateful for all those years of blissful ignorance, when the magic of Christmas just happened before my eyes.

Because of it, Christmas in my mind is a time of wonder. A time of believing in the good, caring about others and expecting the impossible. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. And because of that, I know what I want it to feel like for my children: exactly the same.

But I do have to stop and ask myself—does the magic have to come to an end for me just because I’m the one making it happen? Or am I entitled to a little sprinkling of that magic as well?

I like to think I am.

So here are some of the things I’m doing this Christmas season to keep the stress low and the magic abundant.

Giving myself the gift of intention

Before I get swept away in the wave of all the things that need to be done this Christmas, I’m asking myself the question, “WHY?”

Why am I doing this? Is it because it’s expected and it’s what we always do, or is it because it’s really going to make for a happier holiday season?

If it’s going to make me more stressed out then happy I’m relegating it to a different pile and letting it go. If it’s going to make my children smile from ear to ear and give them something precious to tuck away in their memory banks, then heck, I’ll stay up late and get it done. ✔️

Clearing the halls before I deck them

This isn’t always possible, but I’ve planned to get as much of “normal life” done as early as possible in the month. Meeting work deadlines, renewing car licenses, paying bills, scheduling appointments. These things are in my calendar for the first half of the month and after they’re done I’ll be able to focus on Christmas, and maybe even enjoy the holidays a little bit. ?

Project Christmas

It sounds somewhat joy-less, but in our house we’re attempting to project manage Christmas a bit this year.

Between my husband and I’ve we’ve drawn up a timetable scheduling in when things need to be or can be done, and who will do them. That way there are no stressful surprises waiting down the road just when we think we’re able to settle down on the couch with our metaphorical cups of eggnog. Already it’s working—the tree went up last weekend without a single argument! ?

Balancing yes’s with some no’s—and asking for help

Tis the season to celebrate, after all, so I want to enjoy myself. I want to open my home to friends and family, but I also want to hold onto my sanity. So I’m going to invite the people, but I’m going to ask the people to bring a plate of entrees. ?

I’m going to say “yes” to invitations until I need to say “no”. And when I do, I will feel no guilt. I do not need to be at every single party of the season.

“Happy over perfect” will be my motto

Most importantly, now that I’m a mom, Christmas is about my little ones.

I know for sure that they would prefer a happy mama who sings Jingle Bells with them while we bake together in the kitchen, flour in our hair and chocolate smudges on the floor, rather than a Pinterest-perfect Christmas.

What Christmas feels like on the inside of our home is so much more important than what it looks like from the outside. And that’s where I circle back again to intention. If it makes Christmas more magical for them, it’s worth it and then some. If it doesn’t, I’m choosing to let it go. ?

This Christmas, I wish the same for you.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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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.


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.

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It's 2020. The world is changing. It's hard to believe but the old decade is over, the new one is here and it is bringing a lot of new life with it. The babies born this year are members of Generation Alpha and the world is waiting for them.

We're only a few months into the new year and there are already some new celebrity arrivals making headlines while making their new parents proud.

If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2020, they've got plenty of high profile company.

Here are all the celebrity babies born in 2020 (so far):

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