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Everyday motherhood: The most incredible show on earth

Every day we do it—we defy the odds with our balancing act.

Everyday motherhood: The most incredible show on earth

“Well now, that’s an impressive balancing trick you are pulling off.”


So said the older gentleman at the coffee shop as I was attempting to get out the door.

I had one child with a hand in my pocket, sort of dragging along with me, the other holding a hand, a hand that was also helping to balance two stacked coffees with a pinky finger dangling a bag of tiny donuts. As I lifted a leg to open the door, my small daughter reached up with her baby doll, and ever so sweetly asked, “Mama? Can you hold Baby Watermelon (her doll) too?” Sure, I replied, without hesitation, squatting down to insert Baby Watermelon into the crook of my arm.

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That’s when I heard it. “Well now. That’s an impressive balancing trick you are pulling off.” I flashed my best I got this smile—“It’s what we do!”— I cheerfully quipped back.

He graciously opened the door for me, for us, I should say, and that was that.

Except it wasn’t. Because his comment stayed with me for a while. Until I realized that’s it. That’s just it. A balancing act—“It’s what we do!”

I think all parents of young children do it. The balancing act. Every day. Whether it is the physical— holding a toddler in one arm, and infant in the other, and somehow also stirring some pasta, or the more large scale—balancing working from home with mama-hood, or mom by day/other job by night, or whatever the myriad of hats we wear each and every day. It’s just what we do.

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And someday, we will look back—realizing what a feat each of these days was.

Balancing dinner prep, a sick kiddo, a book report, and bills to pay. Balancing one child’s proud moment at her first dance recital after having received a challenging diagnosis for the other child. Balancing an ill and declining father, an exhausting teaching position, and the needs of two young children not yet in full time school.

It’s a lot. It’s so much. We just do it.

When older folk comment on our daily doings as though they are, in fact, miraculous triumphs, I have to pause. Do they not remember they did it too? Or was it different then?

My mom tells me that families (or at least ours) didn’t go as many places. There wasn’t as much hustle. Probably that morning at the coffee shop wouldn’t have happened. My mom and dad brewed Folgers at home. The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup! (Side note: we usually brew at home…we were out of coffee that morning. And that is not acceptable.) I do remember taking ballet and piano. And we had to get to school. So we were leaving the house. Was there just not as much pressure to look like everything was under control while doing these things?

Maybe life was simpler then.

Maybe older parents have simply forgotten the day to day challenges of this season of life. To quote my own lovely mother again, she swears that the three of us (my older sister, younger brother, and I) never woke in the night. From the beginning, we slept soundly. With my dad working far more than full-time, and not an “available in the night” kind of dad, she says she counted on that sleep. She says she wouldn’t have been able to do the 3 kid thing had we not been good sleepers.

Now: She was an attentive mother. If we were crying in the night, I’m sure she would have heard us. Were we actually good sleepers? Or does she have an amnesia specific to the sleep patterns of late 1970s, early 1980s infants? She has told me, “I don’t know how I would have done it, had you kids slept like your four (my two and my sister’s two).” She told me upfront with my daughter’s sleep issues—I have no advice. This never happened with you three.

I do remember the time the adult world gave me Benedryl when I had chicken pox - and I was jumping out of my skin for over 48 hours. With an elementary aged daughter, a toddler son, and a husband out of town, my mom had me, her middle child, awake and WIRED, for over 48 hours. I am 98.8% certain my mom must have been a zombie during this time. But does she remember it like that? I don’t know.

Maybe when she says to a younger mother “Now that’s an impressive balancing trick,”it means I feel you. I’ve been there.

Regardless of what the 50+ crowd means when they say this phrase (or ones akin to it) to us—I think we should stop for a moment and let the words wash over us.

It is impressive.

All of it.

From start to finish of any given day, we are thinking about so much more than the one thing in front of us. Weighting advantages and disadvantages, deciding on medical procedures, answering questions about everything from “Mom? If babies are really in a Mommy’s tummy like people say, then why don’t daddies have babies too?” to “Why do some watermelons have seeds and some don’t?” to juggling two jobs and four kids— every day is a balancing act. A feat that defies the odds.

We do it. And mostly, we love it, because we love these little people—these little people with HUGE spirits—oh so much. So we do it.

We forget it is a Really Big Deal.

So Mama. Beautiful, Dear, Balancing it all Mama—Stop reading now and pour yourself a cocktail. Or a cup of tea. Or simply stop and hug yourself. Toast yourself. You Rock.

The world is a better place because of your balancing act. Believe that.

Now then. Carry on.

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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

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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?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

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

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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