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Most parents know about the "invasion of toys." It starts with a corner, a basket, then a room, and pretty soon your kids' stuff has infiltrated most parts of your house. Kids' "stuff" can become one of our biggest stressors—a reason why Marie Kondo, The Container Store and organization blogs are so popular. But, beyond organizing, do we really need so much stuff?

What was meant to entertain, educate and occupy our children, has become the object of frustration, distraction and pain (ever step on a Lego barefoot?). In fact, it's been found that too many toys can be overwhelming, while fewer ones cultivate creativity.

Here's how to rethink the way you accumulate things in the first place and regain control.

1. Conduct an inventory.

Have a basic understanding of what your kids play with, what they need, and what you would like them to spend their time doing (coloring, building, pretend play). For example, have you reached capacity on blocks and Lego's? Do they not play with their trucks anymore? Do they need more art supplies? Knowing what you have and what they use is the first step in toy management.

2. Consider your space.

Make decisions based on your current space and how you want that space to look and feel. Aim to have a place for everything, but remember not every space needs to be filled. You can quickly clutter your home when you don't make intentional choices. Even if you have a basement you can fill with toys, maybe creating an open space for running and jumping, setting up a tent or even scooting would be more fulfilling and peaceful for your kids and your family (and less effort to clean).


Make room by donating or swapping out toys. If you're not ready to let go of certain things, buy a few bins and remove 10-15 toys or toy sets from your playroom, put them in the bins and store in a space you don't see every day. Toys that are used frequently should be displayed and easy to take out and put away. Unused toys should not be taking up valuable real estate in the house. Maybe the next stop for these toys is the donation bag.

3. Regulate gifting.

Keep a list of what your kids ask for throughout the year and follow up with them about the items closer to the date of holidays and birthdays. Create a wish list and ask your family to consult that list. Think: experience gifts, memberships and necessities, like a winter coat or backpack. If you have a loved one who likes to bring a trinket when they visit, ask if they would consider doing a craft, playing a card game or having a tea party with your child instead.

Some experience gift ideas that don't involve clutter:

  • Lunch dates
  • Tea party
  • Manicures and pedicures
  • Craft supplies
  • Membership (museums, play spaces)
  • Homemade coupons (staying up late, ice cream dates)

At your child's birthday party, in lieu of gifts have a book exchange, collect for a charity, or simply request no gifts.

4. Prioritize quality over quantity.

Quality toys will last through many kids and provide endless amounts of creative play. Bruder and Micro are two examples of companies that will send you spare parts if something breaks, and washable dolls, wooden toys and blocks stand the test of time. These kinds of toys are also versatile for different kinds of play.

5. Borrow and buy second-hand.

Borrowing and buying second-hand items can relieve feelings of attachment so it's easier to let go when it's time. Activity mats, balance bikes, plastic or wooden toys can be passed around between family and friends.

I learned this lesson early after inheriting all of my sister's baby stuff then gratefully farming it out to local friends before my next baby. And honestly, I only wanted about 25% of it back. So many toys are used for a short time or not at all.

Trade board games or puzzles with friends or give and take from a group. Check your Facebook page for local groups like "buy nothing," "everything is free," or "freecycle."

6. Have an acquisition plan.

Ideally, I would never buy a single toy in between Christmas and birthdays, but realistically that's not happening. Having a plan in place helps with consistency and results in fewer meltdowns and less confusion. Setting expectations is important—be clear about "looking days" versus "buying days."

Do your kids get to spend a few dollars when you go to the cool toy store in town? Do they have an allowance to spend? Did they earn something with their "marble jar?" Earning or saving for toys puts the brakes on impulse buying, which both parents and kids are prone to.

7. Accept every gift with intention.

You are not required to keep gifts you don't want or you don't have room for, mama. You do not have to hang on to toys that aren't in keeping with your values or preferences. You do not have to keep goodie bag loot, party favors, toys from the dentist, and all of the items your kids will collect around holidays. Get rid of it before it masquerades as a treasured toy.

Let them enjoy the tchotchke for an hour or a couple days, then put it up on a shelf and if they don't ask for it for a while, donate or recycle. When they're older, you can involve them in the process: "You had fun with this for a little while, are you ready to donate it now?"

8. Donate regularly.

Keep a giveaway bag or basket in your front hall, garage or closet. Whenever you come across a broken, unused or surplus toy, toss it in the bag.Having a consistent spot for donations will make you more proactive about passing on toys (and any other items in your house that it's time to let go of!).

Choose an organization that means something to you and talk to your kids about where the toys will be going. You can also schedule a delivery from organizations like the Salvation Army, Veterans of America or Big Brothers Big Sisters. Once your kids get used to the idea of passing on toys and clothes they don't need or use, it will become routine to them.

This may sound overwhelming at first, but choose one point to start with—these tools will help simplify your home and your life, not give you another thing to do. Cultivating your children's' toys and things with intention and purpose will help you to figure out what brings happiness and what is of value; it will also help you to be more intentional about what, why and how you are adding to your kids' collection.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."


We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"


The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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