I stopped feeling guilty about having a plain ol' normal day with my kids

No one photographs these trivial moments. No one researches how going with your parents to get an oil change will boost achievement status. No one writes parenting books on the philosophy of encouraging kids to participate in the mundane.

I stopped feeling guilty about having a plain ol' normal day with my kids

Today my 2.5-year-old daughter and I went to the car dealership to get our car inspection done. We slumped in our chairs watching TV and eating free sugary snacks. I texted on my phone and stared off into space while my daughter watched whatever was on TV. We were a little bored. This was our main activity of the day.

For all of the attention paid to the act of parenting these days, we completely edit the fact that one of the primary things children do is accompany adults while adults do adult things. Go to the grocery store. Cook dinner. Run to the bank. Wait in a very long line at the drugstore for cold medicine.

No one photographs these trivial moments. No one researches how going with your parents to get an oil change will boost achievement status. No one writes parenting books on the philosophy of encouraging kids to participate in the mundane.

We isolate the hum-drum parts of our existence from our kids. We imagine our lives should be held separate and childhood is something we should not tarnish with the prosaic. We expend so much energy feeling pressure and planning special child-focused things for our children. As a result of all of those expectations, I feel guilty when I don't measure up to crafting a perfect childhood every day because I needed to spend the day running errands.

An unfortunate result is that we offer our kids' curated lives. Everything is overly curated. Overly precious. I'm so terrified of contaminating childhood that I bend over backward offering unsustainable and unrealistic levels of what I perceive as enriching, meaningful and advantageous to my kid's development.

My daughter's life includes many more banal parts to it than fantastic. But here's the thing: the tedious things are anything but tedious to her. She follows her curiosity, learns how to express herself, explores, imagines, gains an understanding of her emotional experiences, learns how to connect to others, empathize, and show care in any setting she goes. Even in a long line of grumpy people at the drugstore.

And I refuse to feel guilty about this despite the efforts of the parenting industrial complex. I wish to teach her that we can live life just as meaningfully from the waiting room at the car dealership as doing the various activities that promise the production of kid geniuses.

Not every moment is extraordinary. Nor should it be. Being able to identify the extraordinary parts of an ordinary day is a gift that is rich and nourishing.

I do not wish to shield my daughter from things that are ordinary. Of course, I wish her the most meaningful and fulfilling life imaginable. But I also wish for her the ability to embrace the commonplace and perceive richness from the everyday.

Life doesn't have to be adorned and perfect in order to be embraced. It doesn't have to be curated and edited in order to be nourishing. Life may saunter in with its sweatpants on, go about its boring business, and still offer substance and meaning. I hope she can meet life just as it arrives for her and still finds it a worthy guest to invite in.

You might also like:

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


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


Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play