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While the fall weather tempts you to curl up on the couch or in front of a fireplace, the reality is that this season is busier than ever. Between after-school activities and gearing up for the holidays, families don't have a ton of time to create delicious meals—but that doesn't mean your weekly menus have to skimp.

We rounded up some of the tastiest recipes that are ideal for chillier nights. The best part? You can prep them in 20 minutes or less so you have more time to spend on what really matters.

1. Carolina barbecue chicken

When it's too chilly to cook on the grill outside, opt for this meal indoors.

Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

  • 12 oz chicken breasts
  • 1 Thai chili
  • 6 oz green beans
  • 1 oz cream cheese
  • 5 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 oz chives
  • 4 oz gemelli pasta
  • 1/2 cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter

Instructions:

  1. Wash and dry all produce. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place chicken on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound with a mallet, rolling pin, or heavy-bottomed pan until ½ inch thick.
  2. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. Add to pan and cook until no longer pink in center, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove pan from heat. Meanwhile, finely mince chives until you have 1 TBSP. Mince chili, removing ribs and seeds first for less heat.
  3. Once water is boiling, add 4 oz gemelli (about ⅔ of the package) to pot and cook, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes, add green beans to same pot and continue cooking until tender, about 4 minutes more.
  4. Once green beans are tender, remove from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate to dry. Season with salt and pepper. Drain gemelli, then return to empty pot off heat.
  5. Add cheddar, cream cheese, minced chives, 1 TBSP water, 1 TBSP butter, and a pinch of chili (to taste) to pot with gemelli. Stir until a thick and creamy sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add barbecue sauce, vinegar, and as much remaining chili as you like to pan with chicken. Return to stove over low heat and toss until chicken is coated in a sticky sauce. Divide between plates and serve with mac 'n' cheese and green beans on the side.

    Recipe from HelloFresh.

    2. Whole-wheat pasta with caramelized lemon, mushrooms and thyme

    Sweater weather calls for carb-loading. This one will have some yummy leftovers.

    Ingredients (serves 6):

    • 1 lemon
    • 5 tbsp olive oil
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 1 lb whole-wheat spaghetti
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red chile flakes
    • Grated parmesan, for serving

    Instructions:

    1. Using a Microplane grater, completely remove the zest from the lemon, leaving no patchy parts, and transfer the zest to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and reserve. Trim and discard the ends from the lemon then chop into rough 1/2-inch pieces, discarding any seeds.
    2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped lemon, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lemon is caramelized in spots and the pith is tender, 6 to 8 . minutes. Transfer the lemon pieces to a bowl. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and return it to the heat.
    3. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet then add the mushrooms, thyme, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden brown and starting to fry in the oil, about 16 to 20 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 7 to 10 minutes, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
    5. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup reserved water, the reserved lemon zest, and the chile flakes to the skillet with the mushrooms, and cook, tossing, until everything is combined and warmed through, adding up to 4 tablespoons more pasta water to keep everything well-moistened. Season the pasta with salt and pepper and serve while hot, sprinkled with parmesan on top, if you like.

    Recipe from Tasty Ultimate: How to Cook Basically Anything.

    3. Chicken quesadillas with apple salsa 

    The apple salsa adds the perfect finishing touch.

    Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

    • 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
    • Kosher salt
    • Unsalted butter, for the pan
    • 2 medium flour tortillas
    • 1⁄2 cup cooked and shredded chicken or turkey
    • 2 ounces (1⁄2 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
    • Handful of baby spinach

    Instructions:

    1. In a small bowl, combine the apple, lemon juice, honey, onion, and salt. Set aside.
    2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt a little butter.
    3. Put 1 tortilla in the hot pan and sprinkle it evenly with chicken, cheese, and spinach.
    4. Put the remaining tortilla on top.
    5. Cook until the cheese just begins to melt and the bottom of the tortilla is golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
    6. Using a broad metal or plastic spatula, carefully flip the quesadilla over and cook until the cheese is completely melted and the tortilla is golden, another 2 to 3 minutes.
    7. Remove the quesadilla from the pan and allow to cool for 2 minutes.
    8. Cut into wedges and serve with the apple salsa.

    Recipe from Cooking From Scratch. *(c)2018 By PCC Community Markets. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Cooking from Scratch by permission of Sasquatch Books.

    4. Bacon-studded brussels sprouts with pecans

    These make a delicious salad on their own, or as a side to an entree.

    Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

    • 9 oz brussels sprouts
    • 3/4 cup chopped bacon
    • 2 1/2 tbsp pecans
    • 6 tbsp shallot

    Instructions:

    1. Cook bacon and pecans. Medium dice bacon into about 1/2 inch pieces. Place bacon in a dry medium sauté pan over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pecan, cook 8-10 minutes, or until pecans are toasted and bacon is crispy, stirring occasionally. Transfer bacon and pecans to a paper towel (keep bacon fat in pan).
    2. Prep brussels sprouts and shallot. Cut ends off brussels sprouts. Lay flat and cut into about 1/4-inch thick slices. Cut ends off shallot and remove peel. Halve lengthwise. Lay flat and cut lengthwise into about 1/4-inch thick strips
    3. Start brussels sprouts. Return pan with bacon fat to stovetop over medium heat. Add brussels sprouts and shallot to hot pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 7-10 minutes, or until veggies are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.
    4. Finish brussels sprouts. Add about 1/2 cup water to pan with brussels sprouts. Stir. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until water or until water cooks off and veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heart. Return bacon and pecans to pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Stire to combine.

    Recipe from Green Chef.

    5. Slow cooker butternut squash soup

    The prep for this only takes 20 minutes, and then you can let the slow cooker do the rest of the work!

    Ingredients:

    • 2 1/4 lb butternut squash, copped into small chunks
    • 1 large yellow onion, diced
    • 2 granny smith apples, diced
    • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
    • 1 tbsp salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tbsp curry powder
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ginger
    • 1 tbsp minced garlic
    • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • Parsley (for garnish)

    Instructions:

    1. Spray a 7- or 8-quart slow cooker with a nonstick cooking spray.
    2. Add all ingredients except heavy cream into slow cooker.
    3. Cook on low heat setting 7-8 hours or high heat setting 4-5 hours.
    4. Add to a blender and blend until smooth.
    5. Stir in heavy cream and adjust seasoning to taste.
    6. Garnish with extra heavy cream and herbs.

    Recipe from HelloFresh.

    6. Tiger mountain turkey chili

    Photography by Charity Burggraaf

    Chili in the fall? Groundbreaking... but it's just too good to pass up.

    Ingredients (about 8 servings):

    • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
    • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
    • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced
    • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 (15-oz) can crushed tomatoes, drained
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauced
    • 1 (15-oz) can kidney beans, drained
    • 1 tbsp packed light brown sugar

    Instructions:

    1. Spray a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot with cooking spray and put over medium heat.
    2. Add the turkey and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and to break up the meat into smaller pieces, about 5 minutes. Once the turkey is no longer pink, drain off and discard all the liquids.
    3. Stir in the onion, bell peppers, garlic, chili powder, black pepper, chipotle, cumin, thyme, and salt.
    4. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the spices are deeply colored and fragrant.
    5. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, then stir in the water.
    6. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables have slightly softened and flavors have melded.
    7. Stir in the beans and sugar, heat through, and serve.

    Recipe from Cooking From Scratch. *(c)2018 By PCC Community Markets. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Cooking from Scratch by permission of Sasquatch Books.

    7. Maple + rosemary-glazed pork cutlets

    Apple and maple syrup... what more could we want in the fall?

    Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

    • 2 scallions
    • 1 gala apple
    • 12 oz pork cutlets
    • 1 oz maple syrup
    • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
    • 1/4 oz rosemary
    • 1/2 cup couscous
    • 5 tsp white wine vinegar
    • 1 unit chicken stock concentrate
    • 2 oz spring mix lettuce
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • Salt and pepper

    Instructions:

    1. Wash and dry all produce. Trim, then thinly slice scallions, keeping greens and whites separate. Pick and finely chop enough rosemary leaves from stems to give you 1 tsp. Halve, core, and dice apple.
    2. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add scallion whites and ½ tsp chopped rosemary. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil, then immediately stir in couscous and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand until tender, about 10 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, pat pork dry with a paper towel. Season generously all over with salt and pepper. Melt 1 TBSP butter in a large pan over high heat. Add pork and cook until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate.
    4. Reduce heat under pan to medium. Stir in remaining chopped rosemary, 1 TBSP vinegar (we'll use more later), maple syrup, stock concentrate, and ¼ cup water. Let simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in 1 TBSP butter, then season with salt and pepper. Return pork to pan, tossing to coat in sauce, then remove pan from heat.
    5. Whisk together mayonnaise and remaining vinegar in a medium bowl. Add lettuce and apple. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
    6. Fluff couscous with a fork, then divide between plates. Arrange pork on top of couscous and drizzle with any sauce in pan. Garnish with scallion greens. Serve with salad on the side.

    Recipe from HelloFresh.

    8. Pronto chicken white pizzas with baby broccoli, fresh mozzarella + tuscan herbs

    When you want to cozy up with pizza, make this flatbread.

    Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

    • 10 oz chicken cutlets
    • 8 oz broccoli florets
    • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
    • 1 tbsp Tuscan heat spice
    • 1 unit roma tomato
    • 2 unit flatbreads
    • Salt and pepper
    • 7 tsp olive olive

    Instructions:

    1. Adjust broiler rack so that it is in position closest to flame and place a baking sheet on rack. Preheat broiler to high. Rinse chicken, then pat dry with a paper towel. Season all over with salt and Tuscan heat spice.
    2. Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat (use a nonstick pan if you have one). Add chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in center, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and let cool slightly, then cut into bite-size pieces.
    3. Wash and dry all produce. Cut any large broccoli florets into bite-size pieces. Core, seed, and dice tomato. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in same pan over medium-high heat. Add broccoli and tomato. Cook, stirring, until just tender and wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
    4. Scatter mozzarella in an even layer over flatbreads, followed by chicken, broccoli, and tomato. Carefully remove baking sheet from broiler and sprinkle with a drizzle of olive oil. Place flatbreads on sheet and sprinkle each with a drizzle of olive oil.
    5. Carefully return sheet to broiler and broil flatbreads until cheese melts and crust starts to brown, 3-4 minutes. TIP: Check flatbreads occasionally for any burning.
    6. Remove flatbreads from broiler. Sprinkle with another drizzle of olive oil and season with salt, if desired. Let flatbreads rest for 1 minute, then cut into slices and serve.

    Recipe from HelloFresh.

    9. Paleo sweet potato nachos

    Whether you're hosting people over for game day or want a healthier snack, these look incredible.

    Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

    • 1 lb ground beed
    • 2 tsp chorizo-style seasoning or taco spice blend
    • 1 large sweet potato
    • 1/2 cup chopped red and green bell peppers
    • 6 large radishes
    • 2 tbsp shredded carrots
    • 2 tbsp shredded red cabbage
    • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tsp agave (or your favorite sweetener)
    • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 cup dairy free sour cream
    • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
    • 1 lime

    Instructions:

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel sweet potato, if desired. Halve lengthwise; lay flat and slice into thin half moons. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons cooking oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
    2. Chef's Tip: Cut the sweet potato as thin as you like. The thinner the slice the crispier the chip.
    3. Spread sweet potato out in a single layer on a lightly oiled foil-lined baking sheet (see Chef's Tip). Roast 15-20 minutes, or until chips are lightly browned and slightly crisp, flipping halfway through. Heads Up: Two baking sheets may be needed to fit all the chips in a single layer.
    4. Meanwhile, trim ends off radishes and cut in half. Lay flat and slice into about ¼-inch thick half moons.
    5. Combine apple cider vinegar, agave and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Mix until the agave is dissolved into the vinegar.
    6. Bring spiced apple cider vinegar and about 1 tablespoon water to a boil in a small pot. Once boiling, remove from heat. Add radishes and carrots and red cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Stir. Cover. Let pickle at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    7. Meanwhile, cut ends off red onion and remove peel. Small dice into about ¼-inch pieces. Small dice red and green bell peppers into about ¼-inch pieces.
    8. Heat about 1 ½ tablespoons cooking oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers to hot pan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until veggies soften, stirring occasionally.
    9. Add ground beef to pan with veggies. Stir to break up beef. Sprinkle with desired amount of chorizo-style seasoning. Stir to evenly distribute seasoning. Cook 6-8 minutes, or until beef is fully cooked, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Take Note: Ground beef is fully cooked when it's no longer pink.
    10. Add the dairy-free sour cream to a small bowl with cilantro and the juice of the lime. Mix until fully combined.
    11. Plate sweet potato chips. Pile chorizo-seasoned beef and veggies over top. Drizzle with creamy cilantro dressing. Serve curtido next to nachos. Enjoy!

    Recipe from Green Chef.

    10. Lentil and white bean stew

    Photography by Charity Burggraaf

    Cozy up with your favorite drink and this hearty stew.

    Ingredients (makes 6 servings):

    • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
    • 3 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
    • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1 cup French green lentils, rinsed
    • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
    • 3 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, tough stems removed and leaves shredded
    • Splash of balsamic vinegar, plus more as needed

    Instructions:

    1. In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil.
    2. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
    3. Stir in the thyme, then add the lentils, salt, pepper, and vegetable broth; bring to a boil, stirring several times to prevent the lentils from clumping.
    4. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the lentils are cooked, 25 to 30 minutes The lentils will keep their shape but should be tender all the way through.
    5. Add the beans, kale, and vinegar. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the kale is tender, about 8 minutes.
    6. Remove the thyme and season to taste with more salt, pepper, and perhaps another splash of vinegar.
    7. Serve hot.

    Recipe from Cooking From Scratch. *(c)2018 By PCC Community Markets. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Cooking from Scratch by permission of Sasquatch Books.

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    Creating your baby registry is one of the most exciting getting-ready-for-baby tasks a mama takes part in (other than, you know, growing a life). But even though sorting through adorably teeny this and itsy bitsy that can be loads of fun, that doesn't change the fact that there are SO many products from which to choose—not to mention slight variations in version for each. And how do parents know if you even need that *very specific* item to begin with, since each baby's likes are so different? It helps to have an expert guiding you through the what's-actually-worth-it process, whether it's veteran parents in your life who will likely offer up suggestions, or stores like buybuy BABY that handpick the must-have options and make registry building super easy for you.

    From strollers to car seats and swings (because you'll definitely be needing a swing at some point), here are our top picks for first-time parents of the items you'll be glad you put on your baby registry, trust us.

    UPPAbaby VISTA stroller

    UPPAbaby VISTA stroller

    The best recommendation is the one from someone you trust and if you ask around, it won't take long for you to learn that UPPAbaby® is one of the most beloved stroller brands by new and seasoned moms alike. The VISTA is their crème de la crème, and it comes with all sorts of high quality features (think an ultra-sturdy frame and all-wheel suspension to help absorb all those bumps on the road) that will keep your babe comfortable no matter where your walk takes you. Plus, it comes in a bunch of great colors and transitions to a double as your family grows.

    $959.99

    Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat

    ChiccoKeyFitcarseat

    When it comes to keeping your little one safe, a car seat is probably the most important piece of gear you'll buy. While you'll hopefully never need to test it out, the KeyFit® seat keeps your little peanut extra secure with things like side impact protection—plus, thanks to handy bubble indicators, installing it correctly doesn't require a rocket scientist[JS9] . It's all about making your life easier while helping you breathe easier, too!

    $199.99

    4moms mamaRoo classic infant seat

    4momsmamaRooswing

    All hail the infant swing 🙌. Whether your cute new bundle is generally calm or has more of a defiant streak, chances are there'll be a time when you need some hands-free soothing. Enter the mamaRoo, a beyond useful swing that looks as cozy as it is. Strap the nugget in, choose one of five distinct motion patterns, and let yourself enjoy that moment of solitude on the couch (without leaving baby unsupervised, of course).

    $219.19

    HALO Bassinest premier series swivel sleeper

    HALOsleeper

    Being a new mom is all about snuggles and, if we're being honest, surviving those sleepless nights. And since the American Association of Pediatrics' current recommendation is to have your baby sleep in your room for at least the first 6 months of life anyway, why not have your little one spend his or her early nights snoozing in a bedside bassinet to save some time in the middle of the night? The HALO Bassinest is designed to nuzzle right up next to your bed, too, so you won't even have to get out from under the comforter during those 3am feedings.

    Graco Table2Table premier fold 7-in1 convertible high chair

    Gracohighchair

    Spoiler alert: Your little babe is going to grow up fast. While it may seem like they'll be in that just-learning-how-to-eat phase forever, they'll outgrow the full-fledged high chair in a blink. While you can definitely buy a variety of different seating apparatuses for them, you can also buy one that'll last with your growing baby. With seven different configurations ranging from an infant reclining high chair to a toddler table and little chair, this is the only one you'll ever need.

    $169.99

    Fisher-Price 4-in-1 sling 'n seat bath tub

    Fisher-Pricebath

    Bath time is arguably one of the cutest elements of parenthood. So rather than concentrating on holding your slippery little baby safely in the sink while also, you know, washing them, do yourself a favor and invest in an infant tub with an adjustable sling. It'll help make the bonding time fun of bath time more secure so you can focus on enjoying those beautiful sudsy moments.

    $39.99

    Hatch Baby Rest sound machine night light + time-to-rise

    HatchBabyRestsoundmachine

    Technology has brought us a lot of advantages, but one of the best? The ability to comfort your little one without ever leaving bed. The Hatch Baby Rest offers sound- and light-control from your smartphone so you can use the power of noise to help them back to sleep if they fuss in the middle of the night without requiring you to drag your tired self out of bed. Plus, when the toddler years come around, it doubles as a time-to-rise clock so that ball of energy knows when it's appropriate to barrel into your room.

    $59.99

    Fridababy baby basics kit

    fridababybasics

    Fridababy has made a name for itself with its cheeky (but incredibly practical) products like the congestion-fighting NoseFrida® and the less-than-pleasant Windi. With this basics bundle, you can get four of their most popular—for nose, behind, scalp and nails—in one convenient package. It's not glamorous, mamas, but it's parenting at its finest.

    $39.99

    Graco 4Ever all-in-one convertible car seat

    Gracocarseat

    Whether or not you choose to purchase an infant car seat for the first months, you will eventually need a convertible car seat as your kiddo gets bigger, and the best options will grow with them. The Graco® 4Ever All-in-1 accommodates children up to 40 pounds facing backwards and up to 65 pounds facing forward. Plus, it can be used as a booster seat up through the age of 10. One less thing to buy until then, mama!

    Skip*Hop explore + more 3-stage activity center

    SkipHopActivityCenter

    Insider parenting tip: Invest in a few great toys that serve as a great way to help your baby learn and explore and stay safe (read: unable to crawl away when you turn your head for a split second). An activity center serves both of those purposes—keeps them entertained and contained fabulously. Even better, the SKIP*HOP® Explore & More 3-Stage has an extra-long shelf life as it converts to an activity table when they outgrow the harness. Plus, there's a snack bowl attachment, and as every mama knows, snacks mean victory.

    $129.99

    This article was sponsored by buybuy BABY. Thank you for supporting the brands that support mamas and Motherly.

    Our Partners

    At Motherly we know that mothers can and do balance business needs with the needs of their children every day. We do it every day, and we know that mothers at other companies are doing it every day, too—but this balancing act often isn't talked about.

    This week a COO and father, Seth Morales, went viral for drawing attention to how hard his wife, and all working moms, work outside of regular business hours and outside offices.

    Morales posted a photo of his wife comforting their child in a hospital bed, writing, "I took this picture of my wife and son this morning. Too often working moms don't get enough credit. I'm sharing this because I want people to know it's possible. You can be great at work and at home."

    FEATURED VIDEO

    He continues: "But sacrifices need to be made before/after normal working hours. The idea of working 40+ hours in the office isn't realistic. You'd be surprised at how productive my wife is from her smartphone while running errands. But she constantly thinks she's falling short with everything. Balancing life is messy and difficult. For all you working parents out there please have grace for yourself, it's a process."

    Morales is right about many things: 40 hours of butt-in-seat office work is not realistic for many parents. Our kids have needs Monday through Friday, 9-5 that we need to be there for sometimes. Clearly, Morales' child was in need of medical attention and that's the kind of thing that parents need to be able to give their attention to, whether it happens during regular business hours or not. And Morales is also right that parents are making sacrifices, working before and after traditional office hours and making the most of small pockets of time. It sound like Morales' wife is multitasking a lot of time time, running her work from her "smartphone while running errands."

    It's great that this powerful COO is sharing the struggles that working parents face and that a working mother's spouse is recognizing her efforts on a personal level. But we would challenge partners like Morales: If you see your partner trying so hard to do everything and feeling like she's never doing enough, perhaps it is time to ask yourself if YOU are doing enough.

    Research shows that among heterosexual couples, women simply do more of the unpaid work of child-rearing than men do, and it hurts our careers, our families and our relationships (and that if men did just 50 minutes more labor at home every day we could close the gender gap.)

    We would also challenge business leaders like Morales: If you see your employees are making the sacrifices that he mentions here, working before and after working hours and feeling like they are merely surviving, not thriving, maybe your culture needs to catch up with the needs of employees.

    And finally, we challenge any working mother who "constantly thinks she's falling short with everything" to drop some balls and delegate at home. Get the store-bought muffins and share the load of managing your family load with your partner.

    Morales is right, we can be great at work and at home, but not if we're not supported at work and at home.

    News

    Sometimes it's hard for kids (and adults) to understand things that can't see. That's why some creative teachers are using bread to show kids just how germy their hands can get.

    "We did a science project in class this last month as flu season was starting. We took fresh bread and touched it. We did one slice untouched. One with unwashed hands. One with hand sanitizer. One with washed hands with warm water and soap. Then we decided to rub a piece on all our classroom Chromebooks," teacher Jaralee Annice Metcalf writes in a now-viral Facebook post.

    When the bread was left in sealed plastic bags the slices that had been exposed to more bacteria via laptops and unwashed hands grew the most mold.

    FEATURED VIDEO



    The bread that had been rubbed on those Chromebooks might be the grossest piece of bread we've ever seen, and really underscores Jaralee's point: "As somebody who is sick and tired of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Wash your hands! Remind your kids to wash their hands! And hand sanitizer is not an alternative to washing hands!"

    The CDC agrees with this elementary school teacher: Handwashing reduces the spread of diarrheal and respiratory illnesses (basically the bugs kids seem to be magnets for) so it's a good idea to teach kids to do it properly and often.

    Jaralee isn't the first teacher to go viral for incorporating this experiment into her classroom and she probably won't be the last. Full instructions for this project are listed on the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital website and are easy to replicate at home.

    Her Facebook post has been criticized by people questioning the conditions of her experiment, but as she notes on her Facebook page, they're kind of missing the point: "We are an elementary school. Not a fancy CDC lab, so relax a little and WASH YOUR HANDS."

    It's good advice from a caring teacher and a reminder to wash our hands (and sanitize our laptops!)

    News

    Whether you have a child in a Montessori school or you are just looking for cool gifts that encourage creative, independent play, we've got you covered. We found the most Montessori-friendly gifts available on Amazon and they won't break the bank—win-win.

    While they aren't the hottest toys of the moment, they'll last you a lot longer than a trendy product. Here, you'll find handpicked quality and non-tech gifts like marble runs, interlocking discs and iconic board books, that'll stimulate simple, open-ended play. Perfect to share with family members looking for gifts that don't involve a screen.

    Here are our favorite Montessori-inspired gifts under $50 found on Amazon:

    TT.Remax Montessori munari mobile

    TT.Remax Montessori munari mobile

    The Montessori mobiles were designed specifically to engage infants in each developmental stage. This one is the first mobile in the series and is meant for newborns which is why it features black and white images.

    Age: 3-6 months

    $13.99

    Kiddison Montessori kicking ball cotton

    Kiddison Montessori kicking ball cotton

    This handmade ball is perfect for Montessori babies because it is easy for them to hold and rolls slowly, providing just the right amount of challenge for babies learning to scoot and crawl. It also has a soft jingle that babies love.

    Age: 1-2 years old

    $15.99

    Melissa & Doug rainbow stacker

    Melissa & Doug rainbow stacker

    This ring stacker is made from durable and child-safe wood, rather than plastic, and is simple in design, perfect for a screen-free play experience for babies 18 months and up.

    Age: 18 months+

    $7.97

    Global Babies board book

    Global Babies board book

    Montessori focuses a lot on world peace and learning about different cultures. This beautiful board book is a perfect introduction. Spanish and English words teach the littlest readers that everywhere on earth, babies are special and loved.

    Age: 1-3 years old

    $5.99

    EOFEEL Montessori interlocking discs

    EOFEEL Montessori interlocking discs

    These interlocking discs are a good example of a Montessori toy designed to isolate one specific skill—in this case, a baby's ability to transfer something from one hand to the other. It's ideal for building fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and inspiring babies to explore the world.

    Age: 12 months+

    $6.99

    Elite Montessori object permanence box

    Elite Montessori object permanence box

    This Montessori toy helps babies explore the concept that just because they can't see something, it doesn't mean it's gone. With repeated use of this material, the child learns how it feels to succeed when they have achieved a goal on their own.

    Age: 1-10 years old

    $22.99

    Elite Montessori infant coin box

    Elite Montessori infant coin box

    This is a more advanced baby toy to help babies further explore object permanence and work on fine motor skills.

    Age: 12 months+

    $21.99

    Sunny Days Entertainment adventure play tunnel

    Sunny Days Entertainment adventure play tunnel

    Movement and gross motor development are a big part of Montessori and this tunnel can be used indoors or outdoors, encouraging babies and toddlers to keep moving even on the coldest days. When not in use, it folds flat for easy storage and quick portability.

    Age: 3-12 years old

    $14.39

    Helen Oxenbury Baby love: a board book gift set

    Helen Oxenbury Baby love: a board book gift set

    Montessori books for babies and young children focus on the real world. These little board books depict babies doing things like clapping and saying goodnight, real life events babies can relate to.

    Age: 1-4 years old

    $9.99

    Five Color Lines mini band musical instruments

    Five Color Lines mini band musical instruments

    While Montessori toys do not feature electronic sounds, instruments that allow babies and toddlers to create their own music are perfect!

    Age: 5 years+

    $33.99

    Schleich north america farm world starter set

    Schleich North America Farm World Starter Set

    While many Montessori toys are made from natural materials rather than plastic, Schleich animals make the cut because they are highly realistic and to scale, supporting the Montessori ideal of helping young children to learn about the real world through their play.

    Age: 3-8 years old

    $19.92

    JC Toys Berenguer doll newborn gift set

    JC Toys Berenguer doll newborn gift set

    Providing toddlers with realistic toys like this baby doll or realistic play food supports their exploration of everyday life through pretend play. The 8-piece layette gift set includes short-sleeve bodysuit, short-sleeve t-shirt, a pair of booties, hat, cloth diaper, diaper cover and hospital bracelet.

    Age: 2-10 years old

    $24.49

    TickiT wooden fruit + vegetable match

    TickiT Wooden Fruit + Vegetable Match

    Montessori classrooms use matching work, like this one, to help young children refine visual discrimination to prepare for reading, as well as to introduce vocabulary. We love that the chunky tiles are easy for small hands to grip, rotate and turn over.

    Age: 12 months+

    $41.74

    Star Right heads + tails animal match puzzle

    Star Right heads + tails animal match puzzle

    Part of the magic of Montessori is matching a child with just the right level of challenge. This beginner jigsaw puzzle does just that, as you can give a child one puzzle at a time if they're just starting out, or three or four puzzles if they've mastered completing one.

    Age: 2 months-2 years old

    $8.99

    Guidecraft jr. rainbow blocks

    Guidecraft jr. rainbow blocks

    Blocks of all kinds are in line with Montessori's emphasis on exploration and child-led learning and play. Use this toy when helping kids with hand-eye coordination, visual perception, color exploration or light table activities.

    Age: 2-7 months

    $24.95

    Gabrielle Balkan The book of bones: 10 record-breaking animals

    Gabrielle Balkan The book of bones: 10 record-breaking animals

    The Book of Bones is the perfect addition to a Montessori library because it provides rich detail about the world in a straightforward, beautiful way. Little readers can examine animals' skeletons and guess to whom they belong; the answers are revealed in humorous explanations.

    Age: 7-10 years old

    $14.85

    ECOOPRO elecfly kids microscope

    ECOOPRO elecfly kids microscope

    Young children are all about exploring their world and a microscope is the perfect tool for a budding young scientist. It's built-in three different color filters and the rotating wheel saves you from having to stain slides.

    Age: 5 years+

    $43.99

    Kidz Xplore outdoor explorer nature exploration kit

    Kidz Xplore outdoor explorer nature exploration kit

    Montessori schools often include an outdoor classroom, encouraging children to spend as much time as possible in nature. This outdoor explorer set helps get kids learning outside!

    Age: 5-10 years old

    $25.97

    Thoth Montessori wooden mathematical manipulative material block board

    Thoth Montessori wooden mathematical manipulative material block board

    Rubber band boards are often used in Montessori classrooms to encourage children to explore geometry, while also working on fine motor skills and concentration. Kids will also learn all types of 2D shapes and concepts around fractions.

    Age: 3 years+

    $14.99

    National Geographic balance stepping stones

    National Geographic balance stepping stones

    These stepping stones are in line with the Montessori philosophy of encouraging children to use their bodies as well as their minds—these make a great indoor gross motor activity!

    Age: 3 years+

    $49.99

    Fajiabao Montessori logic games slide puzzle board

    Fajiabao Montessori logic games slide puzzle board

    In Montessori, children work with patterns to encourage early math skills. This toy encourages children to work with patterns in a fun way. The one side of sliding blocks printed with four kinds of shapes and five-pointed star. Matching the different shaped blocks helps kids identify different geometric puzzles.

    Age: 3 years+

    $14.99

    MEROCO Montessori screwdriver board

    MEROCO Montessori screwdriver board

    Developing real life skills is a big part of Montessori for young kids. Why not let them practice with a real screwdriver instead of a pretend one?

    Age: 3 years+

    $26.99

    Ravensburger solar system jigsaw puzzle

    Ravensburger solar system jigsaw puzzle

    In Montessori, elementary aged kids are busy exploring the big questions of the universe as they begin to think more abstractly. This type of beautiful and realistic puzzle supports that interest in science while building skills like concentration and creativity.

    Age: 8-15 years old

    $12.99

    DK dinosaur book

    DK dinosaur book

    Montessori elementary classrooms spend a lot of time studying early history, including prehistoric times as this is a huge interest of many children this age. This dinosaur book is a great way to encourage their curiosity!

    Age: 4-7 years old

    $20.69

    Blue Orange Photosynthesis strategy board game

    Blue Orange Photosynthesis strategy board game

    Many Montessori classrooms for older kids begin incorporating more group work as social interactions and relationships are so important to this age group. Board games are a great way to support social skills like taking turns and winning or losing gracefully. Kids will love going through the life-cycle of trees and earn points as their leaves collect energy from the revolving sun's rays.

    Age: 8 years+

    $29.99

    NEX sewing machine

    NEX sewing machine

    Montessori continues to support teaching practical life skills with older children and a sewing machine can be a really rewarding gift as a child experiences the pride of making his or her own clothes. The simple on/off control button and foot pedal make it great for little ones.

    Age: 10 years+

    $27.99

    Hape quadrilla wooden marble run

    Hape quadrilla wooden marble run

    A wooden marble run is a perfect Montessori toy because it's made of natural materials and encourages creativity and problem solving skills. The marble run can also be leveled or built up with add-ons for more advanced builders.

    Age: 4-15 years old

    $42.52

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    A month before Christmas the brakes on my 15-year-old sedan started making a strange noise. The bill at the auto shop came to $2,400. That's a lot of money for my family. My Christmas shopping list was immediately slashed, the vacation we'd been planning for the new year (our first real vacation ever) drifted further into the future.

    Every day I look at my family and I think about how lucky we are. Our son is healthy and that is priceless. We have a modest home filled with everything we need and wiggle room for some little luxuries (hello Starbucks and Disney+). And importantly, in an area where unemployment is steadily climbing (and with a spouse who is about to be out of work) I still have a job.

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    But when that $2,400 bill came my usual gratitude was overtaken by resentment. Because as much as I appreciate what we have, I resent how much our culture is focused on the aspirational when for so many of us, even average seems unattainable.

    I resent the fact that I am still paying off my student loans.

    I resent how incomes haven't risen with housing costs.

    I resent how childcare costs eat so much of my income.

    But mostly I just resent how society is squeezing parents for every dollar while simultaneously shaming us for not having enough of them.

    So to the mama who wishes she had a bigger budget for her kids' Christmas presents, I see you. I know that you're trying so hard and your kids know it, too. Please know that the magic of Christmas is not in the cost, it's in the memories. Please give yourself the gift of a guilt-free Christmas.

    To the mama who is working overtime and picking up side gigs, I see you. I see your hustle, your ambition and your love for your family, and this Christmas I want you to try to give yourself a break. Even just a small one, because even mamas are human and you need to rest, too.

    To the mama who is running a household on only her partner's income, I see you. I know it can feel impossible (that's because it nearly is). I also know you are supporting your spouse in their career because that's what is best for your family right now. I know that you are working so hard at home and that sometimes it feels like one income isn't enough. Please give yourself credit for all the unpaid labor you are doing.

    To the mama who can rely only on her own income, I see you. You're solo parenting, you're the sole provider, and you are amazing. You are strong. You are bearing so much responsibility and I want you to know that you are more than enough for your children.

    To the mama who can't afford to live where she wants to, I see you. Maybe you always dreamed of raising your kids in the big city, but economic realities have relocated you to a far-flung suburb. I see you out there, doing what is best for your family on a budget smaller than you'd like, in a city smaller than you'd like. Mama, know that you are a gift to your community.

    To the mama struggling to pay for IVF: I see you. And I see how bad you want this. I want it for you, too. I wish you didn't have to turn to loans and credit cards and crowdfunding for this. Please know that motherhood takes many forms and be gentle with yourself this season.

    To the mama struggling to pay off a birth: I see you. And I'm angry for you. I am so angry and perplexed by a system that would bill new parents astronomical sums at a time in their lives when they can least afford it. Giving birth should not put people into debt.

    To the mama who has reached her limit, I see you. When you're waiting for payday, every minute seems like forever. When your card is declined at the checkout that moment lasts a lifetime. Please, accept help if you need it. There is kindness in the world for you.

    To the mama using SNAP or visiting the food bank this season, I see you. And I'm proud of you. I'm proud of you for navigating this challenging time in your life because figuring out how to do this isn't easy. I'm proud of you for being such a good mother and making sure that your kids have nutritious food.

    To the mama getting help from her family, I see you. It can be hard to accept help from your parents when you are a parent yourself, but please do try to see it as a gift. They love you so much that they want to support you, and you can honor that by seeing yourself as worthy of support.

    To the mama who is not getting help from her family, I see you. It can be painful to watch your friends and acquaintances get financial help from their families when yours is not in a position to do the same. It's human to be envious when someone's dad gives them a down payment, but the best gift you can give yourself is to focus on your own kids and non-financial gifts you are giving them every day.

    To the mama who feels like her life doesn't live up to Instagram, I see you. I understand the pain of scrolling through social media, wondering why it seems like everyone else has a nice home and can take their kids on vacation when you can't. Give yourself the gift of unfollowing or turning off social media.

    To the mama who feels like she'll never get out of student loan debt, I see you, I am you, and I can tell you there's hope. For years my student loans have kept me down. They are the reason I am driving a 15-year-old, money pit of a car in the first place. But by the end of 2019 they will finally, mercifully be paid off. Most of the student debt in America is held by women. This is an issue impacting a generation of mothers. You are not alone.
    Life
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