Feeling a mixture of emotions doesn’t make you ‘bad’—it makes you a parent

Because I'm a mom to five children, people might assume that I somehow avoided the postpartum blues. Not so. After every birth, I rode the hormonal roller coaster with plenty of self-doubt and tears—especially with my first.

I vividly recall my inability to put on my daughter’s going-home outfit at the hospital. I kept turning her around, shoving her floppy arms and legs in the wrong places, confused as to which snaps were for what. The nurse finally set me straight, but the damage was done. This evidence convinced me that I wasn’t qualified to bring my newborn home, much less be her mom for the rest of her life. I cried most of the way home.

I subsequently learned that feelings of inadequacy, as well as euphoria, are part of the journey.

It’s as normal to feel bereft as it is to stare at your beautiful baby in joyous wonderment. By describing common emotional struggles and strategies for coping, I hope to help you ensure that your tears of frustration are far outnumbered by tears of joy.

You just want to do right by your baby

Despite what Google may lead us to believe, there are not truly threats toward newborn babies lurking around every corner. In fact, most babies will be just fine with regular care—even when mishaps happen. Babies can get cold or hot, be wet or cry, and they’ll be OK.

Take for instance the day I went home with my second child: I wanted to show him off in our new double stroller. I proudly lay my son in the back and put my two-year-old daughter in the front. I took two steps down a Chicago city block, and the stroller collapsed on both of them. Horrified, with my heart pounding, I unfolded the tangle of stroller and children, only to find that they were both fine. Believe me, after that, I always checked to make sure the stroller was locked in place.

Of course, you shouldn’t ignore your newfound mother’s intuition and protective instincts. The trick is to keep your imagination at bay and live in the moment. Worrying about the unknown is wasted energy. Just breathe and enjoy!

You don’t know if you’re right for the job (Hint: You are)

You would be hard-pressed to find a new mom who doesn’t feel inadequate to some degree. The responsibility of nurturing a new life is powerful and often overwhelming. With my firstborn, I remember feeling very emotional about having brought a new life into a world that is often felt cruel and unfair. Simply watching the news made me worried about my ability to do right by my new baby. I also spent too much time comparing myself to to other moms who effortlessly “wore” their babies in cool slings or nursed while carrying on a conversation in a café. (Even after five children, I never did accomplish those hip mama moves.)

New moms can become too focused on what isn’t going well instead of appreciating how much they’ve figured out in a short period of time. In a matter of days, you progress from figuring out diapers to juggling the baby in one arm while getting a stroller down the stairs. How amazing is that?!

So try to focus on how well you are doing and don’t compare yourself to moms who seem to have it all under control. You’re not just “good enough” to parent this child—to your baby, you’re perfect!

You are overwhelmed by a lack of control

Babies cry a lot, especially in late afternoons or when they are colicky. In the beginning, you will have to give up control and operate within their parameters. Fortunately, there are ways to make sure you’re not constantly being held hostage to the whims of your child.

First, assume that—no matter where you are—everything will take longer than planned. Allot more time than “should” be necessary to get ready and bring extra stuff with you: clothes, food, diapers, bottles and whatever you might need when things don’t go according to plan.

On that note, accept this is a unique stage in your life—when small handbags don’t have a much of a role. I learned this the hard way on the night I took my third baby to a fancy restaurant. Because he was my third, I was too cool to bring an ugly, bulky diaper bag. Of course, he proceeded to make some pretty impressive sounds during dinner and took a poop that soiled his clothes. Determined not to ruin my night out, I stripped him down in the tiny, elegant bathroom, rinsed him in the sink and wrapped him up in a tablecloth I’d snatched in desperation. I then dumped him back in his car seat so I could finish my meal.

Clearly, nothing goes as planned with babies, but preparation and a willingness to go with the flow will reduce that awful feeling of lack of control.

You are trying to make sense of your new role

No matter how helpful your partner, spouse, friends or relatives may be regarding baby care, you are still very likely to feel periods of anger and resentment. This screaming, demanding little person has burst on the scene and turned your life upside down—and there’s no way to avoid being the main attraction, especially if you’re nursing.

The best defense is to make time for joy. Get out of the house, take walks, relish the quiet times, nap with baby and don’t expect to be productive. Take time to laugh at and with your child. Babies offer a great excuse for making funny sounds and silly faces. I enjoyed taking pictures of my infants in funny settings, like the laundry basket with underwear on their head. Just think—you can blackmail them later when they’re teens and refusing to clean their rooms!

Having emotions that aren’t all teddy bears and lullabies doesn’t make you a bad mom. If you feel fearful, inadequate, out of control, and resentful more often than not, you deserve some help. Postpartum depression is treatable, and asking for help makes you a great mom. A new baby is hard, but it’s not supposed to be torment. I hope these strategies help you find the joy of motherhood in all its unexpected glory and controlled chaos.

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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.


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These kids dishes don’t look like kids dishes

And that's exactly why my toddler loves them. ❤️

My 4.5-year-old is, let's say, spirited in his opinions. He very clearly knows what he wants and doesn't want (oh to have the confidence of a stubborn preschooler!). And what he doesn't want right now is anything that looks too babyish. "That's for babies," he'll say if I give him anything with primary colors or looks too miniature. He doesn't want the baby fork and spoon, he wants what grown-ups use. He doesn't want the baby plastic cups and plates, he wants the glass and ceramic ones.

Well, you can see where this is going.

I had to find something that would satisfy his "not a baby" opinions but still not shatter to pieces if he accidentally drops it on the floor. I had to find him something that's made for kids but doesn't feel made for kids.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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