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6 ways to model self-compassion for your kids

There's a lot of talk these days about self-care. And while we're all for mamas treating themselves in whatever way they need—be it a mani-pedi, a long run, or simply a morning where you actually get to sleep in as much as you want—we think it's even more important for mamas to practice regular amounts of self-compassion.

Think about it: You're constantly practicing empathy for those around you, whether it's sending solidarity vibes to the fellow mama at the store with the tantruming toddler or getting on your kid's level after he's had a rough day at kindergarten. And while modeling empathy for others is one of the best ways to raise children to be empathetic themselves, we would argue that it's just as important to set the example when it comes to self-empathy and compassion.

So where's a selfless mama to start? Here are six simple ways to model self-compassion for your children from clinical psychologist and co-founder of Harmony in Parenting, Dr. Azine Graff.

1. Give yourself two minutes

When our to-do lists feel longer than the number of hours we have in a day, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of rushing from one responsibility to the next without taking time for ourselves. Our expert's tip? Start with two minutes.

"What would be different if you gave yourself two minutes in the car before entering your home? What if you could spend those two minutes to reflect on what you want the rest of your day to look like?" Graff says. "Two minutes gives us the time to prepare ourselves for what is next rather than rushing and diving headfirst into challenges that can lead us to lose our cool."

Try this: Instead of rushing ahead to that next to-do, take a minute to clear your head. Try a deep-breathing exercise, sneak a healthy snack, or simply close your eyes and enjoy the (oh-so-rare) quiet.

2. Fuel yourself as nutritiously as you do your children

We've all succumbed to the 2 p.m. sugary snack trap—and lived to regret it. But for most of us, it's easier to turn our children to healthier choices because we believe a simple truth: It's better for them. Show yourself the same love by viewing your food as fuel and eating what you really need to sustain yourself.

Bonus: Setting the example will make your child a lot more likely to follow suit when you're not there making the choice between carrot sticks or chocolate for them.

Try this: Craving something sweet? Skip the candy and opt for a probiotic-rich dairy free yogurt drink from Califia Farms. It will satisfy your sweet tooth while also providing the right balance of healthy bacteria for your gut.

3. Take off the perfection pressure

Forgiving yourself for mistakes—or simply giving yourself permission to make them—is not just showing yourself kindness. It's also a great way to cut down on stress. "Being kind to ourselves can also reduce the pressure that creeps into our children leading to lack of self-worth, anxiety, and fear," says Graff.

Try this: Made a mistake? Don't beat yourself up. Instead, remind yourself (and your child) that no one gets it right every time—next time, you'll take the lessons you learned to do better.

4. Say "no" more

You would never force your child to take on more than they can handle. And while it can be difficult to decline invitations, opportunities, or extracurriculars, leaving no room for balance is a quick way to deplete yourself—as well as your children. Take a cue from Graff: "Finding that balance between boredom and active allows our brains to meet a combination of our needs."

Try this: Until you get comfortable saying no when you need to, "schedule" a free day every week in your calendar. That way, if you get any invitations you're not ready to handle, you can honestly tell them that your day is already booked!

5. Embrace hobbies and projects that make you feel like "you"

Especially when children are young, it's easy to set aside our own interests to focus on our children's needs. But by modeling the importance of doing what we enjoy (and maintaining a strong sense of self), we model what taking care of ourselves looks like. "As a result, not only are we a positive example for our children, but we feel more whole as a person by incorporating the activities that keep us inspired and engaged," Graff says.

Try this: Think about what you used to do before kids for fun. If you loved working with your hands, check your local library for a free art or gardening class. Fan of the outdoors? Book a sitter and plan a long hike or bike ride to get yourself a little sunshine. Love spending time in the kitchen? Use nap time as dinner prep so you can enjoy the process, or involve your kids in preparing simple, healthy snacks you can both enjoy.

6. Validate your own feelings

Just like our children, adults often have feelings that are difficult to cope with. "If we can acknowledge our own anger, disappointment, sadness, fears or frustration, for example, we are more likely to take ownership of these feelings and practice coping to address our feelings," Graff says. Plus, it's a great way to model healthy expression and reflection of difficult emotions for our little ones.

Try this: Make time to talk about the not-so-pleasant feelings with your kids too. Try saying, "Sometimes things don't go the way Mommy planned, and that makes me frustrated. Do you feel frustrated sometimes too?" It's a great way to open the conversation and raise both of your emotional intelligences.


This article was sponsored by Califia Farms. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly + mamas.

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.

$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

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.

$40

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.

$120

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

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

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.

$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

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.

$179

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.

$100

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.

$33

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.

$88

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It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

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