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Instead of focusing on how motherhood changed my body, I’m celebrating how it changed my soul

Take that photograph. Wear that bikini. Climb all over that playground. Jump together, dance together, laugh together.

Instead of focusing on how motherhood changed my body, I’m celebrating how it changed my soul

The thing is, having a baby can really do a number on your body image issues—even issues that you thought you’d worked through and put to bed.


When I first fell pregnan, after a decade-long obsession of watching the scales and feeling a sense of satisfaction when the number went down, here I was, week after week, creeping back up to a scary place. You’re building a human being inside your body. The numbers going up means the baby is growing. This is supposed to happen. I had to keep reminding myself of this.

The postpartum phase was even harder.

I don’t even recognize my own body.

Where did these saddlebags come from? Where did these old-lady arm flaps come from? Who put all these wobbly bits here? And here? And HERE?

I remember when my baby was 4-weeks-old, and I was wallowing at the state of my softer, cushionier physique, my mother convinced me to let her take me shopping because none of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. Every time I tried to put something on, I’d either cry or work myself up into a horrible mood because it would get me down. I’m not sure what I was expecting–well, maybe that after popping out a baby everything would snap right back to where it used to be a month later a la Hollywood.

That day, we went to a department store and I took a few things to the checkout counter in my usual, pre-pregnancy size, thinking nothing of it. The lady then eyed up the tags on those clothes, sized me up over the top of her frameless glasses and asked ever-so-sweetly, “Ma’am, are you sure this is the right size? I think maybe you should get the next size up.

Look, it was an innocent enough remark and I suppose she was just doing her job. She was probably even trying to help me by preempting the need for me to come back a few days later and return the items.

But in my hormonal, sensitive state, I felt like she had slapped me in the face. And so, in a typical, predictable, postpartum fashion, I turned around, stomped out of there and cried to my mama.

That’s when my sweet mother sat me down and gave me the “it-took-you-9-months-to-put-on-the-weight-so-give-yourself-at-least-9-months-to-lose-it” talk. A talk, which I’ve now learned, is one passed on from generation to generation of women who have had babies.

The second time around? You’d think that having been through it all once, I would have been prepared for what was to come.

It’s harder this time. I don’t know why. Although I eventually got to a place I was happy with after having my baby, and although I didn’t put on as much weight this pregnancy, it’s harder. The soft bits are softer. The floppy bits are floppier. The wobbly bits are wobblier. The whole structure of my body feels like it has completely changed.

And then, recently, I had a moment.

Maybe it was the way my toddler was nestled against my side, burrowing her head into my shoulder with my arm cushioning the back of her soft little neck. Maybe it was the way my baby was curled up on my belly and resting her head on the very spot that used to house that sweet little head when it was still growing, preparing her for the outside world. I looked at my babies and thought: I’m done waiting to lose weight.

I’m done waiting to lose weight because I don’t know what I was really waiting for. Are these delectable moments with my children any less delectable because my hips are now a little wider? Does the warm, deep sound of my toddler’s chuckle sound any less sweet to my ears because my waist is a little thicker? Will the way that my baby wraps her tiny, delicate fingers around my thumb while I’m nursing her, feel any less perfect because my arms are a little softer?

I want my girls to have a healthy body image. I want to be a good role model in that respect. I want them to learn to enjoy healthy, nutritious food. I want them to enjoy being active. I want them to understand the strength and capabilities of their own bodies and to respect all that their bodies can do.

But I also want them to learn that bodies don’t just “snap back.” I want them to learn that our bodies evolve and change, and are not meant to go back to an unrealistic default regardless of what they’ve been through.

Pregnancy will change your body. Childbirth will change your body. But these things will also change your soul.

They will change the way you see the world. They will change the way you live. They will change the way you love. They will bring you myriad of new ways to see beauty in things and teach you to appreciate things you never thought you would.

So I’m done. I’m done waiting to lose weight.

Take that photograph. Wear that bikini. Climb all over that playground. Jump together, dance together, laugh together. How your body looks when you’re doing these things? Let that be the farthest thing from your mind.

Eat well. Be active. Take care of yourself. But don’t put a pause on life because you’re waiting to get to a certain place, which, in fact, won’t change how fulfilling or how wonderful all of these moments are.

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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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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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Life