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I prepared so much for my baby that I forgot to prepare for my own transformation

While I had gone through the motions of doing the preparations, what I hadn't done was say goodbye to my old life.

I prepared so much for my baby that I forgot to prepare for my own transformation

"She's been wailing so much and it breaks my heart to see her like this" I recently complained to my mother, choking back my own tears. She laughed and said, "Well, she's a baby. You're a mom now. And your heart will break over and over again every time she's in pain."

I suppose that sums up motherhood for me right now.

A little over seven weeks ago I birthed a daughter and nothing has been the same since. Well, I still live in the same house and still enjoy rich coffee, dark chocolate and yoga and I have the same partner—yet everything seems so different now.

I sobbed when my husband, daughter, and I came home after a lovely stay at the hospital. Perhaps it was hormone-induced, as my milk was coming in, or perhaps it was pure exhaustion from birth and the cumulative effect of a difficult pregnancy with unrelenting nausea. Or maybe it was simply the fact that I had entered a new phase of my life and I realized how terribly overwhelmed I was.

We had taken all the classes—from breastfeeding and birth to newborn—I had read books, gone to prenatal yoga and had bought all the necessary baby clothes. Yet, the change seemed so monumental.

And still does.

I now realize that while I had gone through the motions of doing the preparations, what I hadn't done was say goodbye to my old life. I hadn't said goodbye to the version of myself whose body was untouched by birth, who had the time to do anything, who never had to be responsible for anyone else and who could sleep for 10 hours uninterrupted.

I didn't realize I would have to give that part of myself up so quickly.

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Yes, I knew babies needed to eat every three hours and I was terrified of navigating postpartum depression. Yet, I had no idea how any of that would feel. How bone-tired I would feel and how I would start to dread the nursing sessions in wee hours of the morning and how demanding breastfeeding can be and how impossible it is to sometimes eat a meal and how hard getting out of the house can be. And how endless the laundry is.

I also had no idea about the love. The precious, tender, all-consuming love. About how sometimes all the challenges don't really matter because there is this glowing, beautiful love being I somehow birthed. There are moments when it still catches me off guard, such as when I casually pick out diapers in the diaper aisle at the store or when I say, "I'm Jimi's mother calling," when I asked the pediatrician if her hiccups, plentiful spit-ups and chin quivers were cause for major alarm (they're not).

There are also those moments when I feel a glimpse of my former self such as when my husband and I take a walk together alone or when I manage to get on my yoga mat or write in my journal. I may not be able to reconcile the two versions of myself yet, but it helps knowing she isn't totally gone.

I've started to see my mom differently too, as well as every other new mom out there. While I am very new in the journey, I feel humbled by the stories from other moms and am in awe of those who navigated these tumultuous newborn days and nights with other children to care for.

When I see a mother with young children I now understand how exhausted she is. How she sacrifices so much of her time and energy every day. And I can also understand how helpless she might feel at times.

"This feels like punishment," I moaned to my husband last week around 5 am after failing to sooth our screaming child. Sometimes it does feel that hard. And other times it feels so sweet, such as when I smell my daughter's head and watch her tiny hands move through the air and when she opens her eyes after a long nap. She is starting to smile and I practically melt each time.

Motherhood intensifies everything. It makes the good moments better and can make the challenges far, far harder. It has rocked me to my core in a way that nothing else has. It has asked more of me than anything and has also given me a great chance to grow.

While the fourth trimester is as intensely demanding as I had read and heard it would be, it is also a time of great discovery and newness. Our world is so busy and we're bombarded with social media, email and news that makes relaxing seems near impossible. .

While I have struggled at times with being home so much, I can't remember the last time I felt permission to stay in sweatpants all day and watch Netflix at 3 pm. There is a grace in learning to surrender to the pace of the day (which can be frenzied and slow all in 10 minutes) with a newborn. There is a blessing in learning how to ask for help and how to say thank you to those that brought us delicious meals and big hugs and for those who text loving words. I am learning to see the gifts in slowing down, even if I sometimes resist it.

I am learning not to panic every time my daughter cries. I am learning how to prioritize tasks better. I am learning how to still take care of myself and how to forgive myself. I am learning how to be a new mother.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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

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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If the feeling you get when you snuggle a baby could be bottled and sold, this world would probably be a better place—research basically proves. Between the way those snuggles release heartwarming oxytocin to the benefits they have on babies’ growing brains, let’s all agree there really is no such thing as loving on your baby too much.

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