Menu

I have anxiety—but it doesn’t define me as a mother or a person

Keeping my child safe became the thing I thought about most—it became my mind’s biggest fixation.

I have anxiety—but it doesn’t define me as a mother or a person

For me, anxiety started off slowly.

It didn’t show up in my life until some of the newness of my first pregnancy wore off. Up until that point, I’d never really come to terms with how powerless I actually was. I tried to keep my vitamins down, follow my midwives’ recommendations and prayed that somehow that would be enough to keep my little one safe.


Because that had become my deepest want—keeping my child safe.

My anxious heart didn’t have much of a reprieve when it felt like my healthy newborn came with another list of worries and concerns. Snotty noses and small coughs had never before held such power and disproportionate fear.

FEATURED VIDEO

I was anxious about vaccines and sleep and appropriate development and all the other millions of things that flood one’s mind at 3 a.m.

Because keeping my child safe became the thing I thought about most—it became my mind’s biggest fixation.

I was trying so hard to do my best—to stay present and appreciate each day—all with minimal sleep and parenting experience. It wouldn’t take much for all the things that I worked so hard to not focus on about the world—the pain, the heartache and my inability to stop either—to come creeping back in.

Because most of the time, the thought of keeping my child safe seemed impossible—and I didn’t know how to handle that.

That season of life, pregnancy and my daughter’s first year, were laced with trial and error as I tried to figure out how the heck I could stop anxiety from wrecking me.

That’s what I felt like it was doing. It crept in, sometimes under the guise of “natural maternal worry,” and threatened to wreck every area of my life.

I spent so much mental energy (and who has a lot of that with a baby or toddler to take care of?) creating the foulest possible outcome in my mind, as if that would save me from having to experience it or prevent it from hurting me so badly if something terrible actually did happen. But I had to work on that.

Because while I sat there with a look of horror on my face and a thundering heart in my body as I pictured these worst-case scenarios—my life was happening all around me.

I have been coming to terms with understanding the fact that we can’t stop a lot of the bad things that happen from happening. Yes, of course we make choices that impact what life looks like, but so many things are outside our scope of control and understanding.

So we are then tasked with choosing whether the worry and anxiety are where we set up camp or whether we will acknowledge the ick of the world but still choose to live in the moment and enjoy our lives as much as we can in each season.

Because we can only control so much—and that lack of control shouldn’t steal our present joy.

Now with a toddler and another babe on the way, the door to my anxiety still shudders with the force of my fears, threatening to break open. But I am learning that my anxiety can be dealt with—by deep breathing, through setting intentions, by incorporating mantras (spiritual and practical, for me) into my life. These are all anchors for me on this journey.

Because I’ve realized that my anxiety can be managed—and it doesn’t have to define me as a mother or a person.

And I am learning to have grace with myself on the days that I feel like I’m failing.

I’ve come to see that my goal isn’t to become anxiety-free but to know how to engage my fears—to acknowledge them and tune in to the vulnerability they’re trying to hide—because doing so gives me a way to stop the mental spiral and a chance to get myself back on track.

Because I don’t really doubt that anxiety will affect me in one way or another most of my life—but I’m learning to tap into the tools available to me to make it manageable and not succumb to the overwhelming feelings that it often brings.

I really don’t have it all figured out yet, to be honest. But as with many things in life, motherhood allows us space and numerous opportunities to learn and try again—and thank goodness for that.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall 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 outside-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.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden 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

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective 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

    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

    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

    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

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

    Shop

    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.

    Keep reading Show less
    Life

    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


    Keep reading Show less
    Learn + Play