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Dear first-time mama: Here's the truth

Dear friend,

Congratulations! 🎉

Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's have some real talk.

Having a baby is the best and most important thing in the world. Yet everyone around you is so busy telling you that it is the best and most important thing in the world that they'll probably forget to tell you that being the mother of a newborn is also one of the hardest things you might ever do.

I'm not sure why we always leave that part out. Sure, we'll playfully allude to the fact that you won't be getting any sleep and that you'll be changing a lot of diapers, but that doesn't even begin to cover it.

Your baby will cry, and you won't know why they're crying. You will tell yourself that you're prepared and mentally perform your checklist of actions. But when your swaddled, well-fed, burped, changed baby keeps crying, you will feel helpless. You might even feel mad.

You will play peekaboo for literally hours on end and wonder how this brand new human has a longer attention span than you, a grown woman. You will sing along to kids' songs and wonder what torturer came up with the ones that talk about cradles falling out of treetops when you're already paranoid about keeping your child safe.

You will wake up on your own the first night your baby sleeps for more than three hours at a time, and you will be terrified that they haven't screamed for you yet. You will drag your exhausted butt out of bed and listen to make sure they're still breathing. Then they will sense your presence and wake up, screaming to assure you that they are still very much alive.

You will repeat this process over and over again.

You will be so, so lonely. You will wish you were born in different times when new mothers were part of villages full of aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, and parents living within shouting distance.

You will talk to your baby. Your baby will not talk back. You will smile at your baby. Your baby will stare at you blankly.

You will desperately try to make small talk with the cashier at the supermarket, silently willing her to please, please engage you in adult conversation.

You will wonder why you can do calculus, but nobody ever taught you how to cook one-handed while holding a newborn attached to your breast. You will curse the public school system, and you will curse your fancy college degree.

You will host visitors who insist that you don't need to do anything to prepare, but in spite of their insistence, you will spend your baby's precious nap time trying to make the house look like a bomb didn't hit.

Resist that temptation.

Ask me for help. Ask your friends for help. Ask your neighbor for help. See all these onesies you've received as gifts today? That's just our way of saying we're here for you.

Let us see your messy house. And don't serve us coffee because, I swear, we really do not care. Tell us to come over and hold the baby while you finally take an uninterrupted shower that lasts for more than three minutes. Maybe you'll even use conditioner this time.

People want to help more than you realize. Sometimes they just don't know how to offer, or where to start.

You will survive. You will look back on these days with pride and with joy. But in the meantime, let us help you. Please, please ask.

We'll be waiting.

Love,

Your Friend Who Has Been Through It Before

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Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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

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

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

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

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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One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

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Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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