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I vow to stop judging other mothers—and it feels so much better

So much more good can come from being kind to yourself and others. After all, we are all just doing our best.

I vow to stop judging other mothers—and it feels so much better

I had just dropped off my four-year-old at Pre-K, and since my baby pulled what felt like an all-nighter and my two-year-old couldn't keep down his breakfast, I decided to grab coffee for me and some crackers for him on the way home. I didn't care that I was wearing my sleep-sweats under my drop-off coat, I needed some fortification before I went back home to deal with the dishes and mess I left before we dashed off, late, to school.


So I parked and loaded them both into the stroller, rolling them and my bleary-eyed self into the coffee shop. Standing in line at the counter, I listened to the mom in front of me tell her friend that she had decided not to put her five-year-old into kindergarten until next year, so she would be a more fluent reader when she started. I stood there and reveled in the pleasure of knowing that my oldest was already a fluent reader, with one more year to go. That's what reading together every day does, I thought.

I ordered, paid, and then settled into a corner table to wait. That's when I saw her come in with her four perfect children—lined up like ducklings, cute and charming in every way. So was she—skinny, pretty, darling outfit, to-die-for shoes and bag. And it was so. early. in. the. morning.

And then I felt it.

In the pit of my stomach, the dormant little beast rose its spiky little head and started poking me in all my tender spots, so that all I could do to quell it was start that running loop…she probably spends too much time on how she looks, she ignores her kids so she can shop online, she probably looks so perfect to cover up something, she probably works out constantly, I would never ever wear those pumps to run errands, I wouldn't let my kids eat that...you name it, anything, just so I could feel better about myself.

I couldn't take it anymore and turned my gaze back to my table just in time to see my two-year-old almost up-end the stroller while trying to climb in. I grabbed him a little too quickly and plopped him into the seat next to me, saying to him a little too loudly, "I don't want to see you do that again!"

While tears welled up in his eyes and mine, the lead blanket of fatigue weighed a little heavier on me, and I knew I had handled that poorly. We were both startled by my reaction. Now, on top of feeling exhausted and inadequate, I felt mean. So when I glanced up and the mom at the next table made eye contact and tossed me a pinched look, all I could do was look away from her and hold back my tears.

I was tired.

I was tired from the physical demands of being a mom.

I was tired of comparing myself to other moms.

I was tired of being compared by other moms.

But most of all, I was tired of how I was feeling about myself.

So I packed up and left. No amount of coffee or distraction was going to be enough to make how I was feeling go away. Dragging everyone and everything back to the car, I felt defeated.

Driving home, it occurred to me that I had no one to blame but myself for how I was feeling. Judging what I thought looked like perfection didn't buoy me after all—I just felt worse about myself.

I thought, only I know what I am like all day—not like the tiny snippet on public display during a moment of weakness... And feeling judged by another mom made me think, she has no idea what the last twelve hours have been like for us.

I wondered, why am I doing this to myself—and others?

Then I realized that I have total control over which lens I choose to look through. And I alone have the power to change how I think about others and myself.

There is so much more good that can come out of a kind and knowing smile, a friendly wave, or a gentle, Can I help you?

Just because we are different or parent differently doesn't mean one of us is better or wrong. In the end, we all want what's best for our families, so why not help each other?

I decided then to be the change—to let go of judgment, to give and get support.

It feels so much better.

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

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: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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News