A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

To quote a wise man. . .

“Play is the highest form of research.” 

? We’re game.

What’s more? Interactive play is one of the best ways for children to bond with their parents—as well as learn more about the world around them.

Ready to get busy playing and learning with your little ones?

Here is what you need to know about play by age.


How to play: Ages <1

Reading is one of the best ways to play with your baby, and it will set a pattern for a love of books that will last her lifetime.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like your baby “gets” books at first—the colorful images and hearing your soothing voice will create a positive connotation that will stick with her when she’s old enough to turn the pages.

Try this: Find a comfortable spot and help her turn the pages of a tactile book. Take a moment to help her engage with each page, feeling the different textures and pointing out shapes and colors. Be sure to limit other sound distractions as much as possible to help her focus.

How to play: Ages 1-2

Forget the rules—baby and toddler play is all about helping the child to explore. Building with blocks, putting together simple puzzles, jamming out on drums or bells, and even just running around the backyard are great ways to bond and instill confidence in little ones.

Try this: Stage a nature walk on your street. Let your child jump in puddles, point out birds, and examine leaves and flowers up close. (Getting dirty is highly encouraged. Your little one will adore it—and you.)

How to play: Ages 3-4

Get creative! Young children need creative and pretend play to broaden their understanding of themselves and start to develop complex thinking skills. Keep a stocked dress-up box for costumed adventures around the house and introduce easy board games appropriate for their age. Admit it—you used to rock Pretty Pretty Princess. You’re the queen of the castle now, so show them how it’s done.

Try this: Save a large cardboard box from your most recent Amazon delivery and let your child loose with a box of crayons. Will they turn it into a rocket ship? Plan your take-off!

How to play: Ages 5 +

Choose activities that enhance conversation and creative interactive moments like gaming with your older children. Games played on the Wii U console or a hand-held Nintendo 3DS system create moments for teamwork and conversation when you teach your children to play the games you remember from childhood.

Try this: Turn rescuing the princess into a teaching moment. After playing, discuss the benefits of helping others—even when doing so may be a challenge.  Take that, Bowser.

Here are AAP screen time guidelines for children:

Under 2: Recent updates to the AAP guidelines now suggest that parents avoid screen time for kids under age 2, but also note that, “the more media engender live interactions, the more educational value they may hold (e.g., a toddler chatting by video with a parent who is traveling).”

Over 2: For older children, even “high quality” screen time should be kept to one to two hours per day.

How can I make my child’s screen time “high quality”?

In short, when it’s interactive. Screen time that comes closer to real-life interactions (or, better yet, promotes real-life interactions) is superior to passive viewing. To make screen time more interactive, engage your child as they watch or play through conversation or by incorporating physical objects that they see on screen.

How can I make gaming time more interactive?

Playing a game on a board or a screen can both present opportunities for conversation. Use the game as an opportunity to teach children about taking turns, following the rules, playing fair, and cooperation. Arizona State University researchers have found that sharing the experience of gaming can strengthen bonds and help you connect to kids on their level as they learn. Plus, you know you’ve missed Mario and the gang!

You’ve got this, mama. Let’s play!

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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