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Mama, you make it look easy (but we both know the truth)

You’re not some perfect mother robot. And I know that. Because neither am I.

Mama, you make it look easy (but we both know the truth)

I wonder how you do it all.

How you make it look so easy.


How you're keeping it together.

Sometimes I see you at the grocery store picking up organic fruits and veggies with your hair blown out and makeup on and your organized shopping list neatly written out on pretty stationery and I wonder how I compare in my yoga pants and fresh face holding a crumpled up paper towel with scribbled reminders of what I need to buy.

And I wonder what you think of me.

Sometimes I look through my social media feeds and I wonder how you're on vacation again and how good it is that you're taking the time to put your marriage first and how do you afford it and how does your body look so awesome in that bikini after kids?

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And I wonder if your life is as perfect on the inside as it looks on the outside.

Sometimes I hear about the incredible school lunches you pack for your kids and I see their matching monogrammed outfits they wear and I drool over every family photo you post because everyone is smiling and looking at the camera and I'm over here just hoping my kids don't fight me on whether they're going to wear pants today or not.

And I wonder if your day-to-day life always runs so smoothly.

Sometimes I watch you effortlessly deal with a tantrum and feel a twinge of jealousy when your child listens to your request the first time you ask. Sometimes I wonder if your kids ever talk back to you or you ever lose your patience.

And I wonder if you ever struggle with your kids.

But then I see a little crack. A tiny hint of imperfection, and I'm not going to lie—it calms and comforts me.

It reminds me that we're all just doing our best to raise children who are happy and loved, while staying sane and happy ourselves.

This realness you've shown me reminds me that you struggle, too.

That you cry. That you doubt yourself. That you lose your patience. That you are not always put together. That you make mistakes. That you don't always feel beautiful. That you feel overwhelmed at times. That you don't know if you're doing anything right. That you don't have the secret recipe for balancing motherhood, marriage, work, friendships, and personal goals. That we share similar challenges and celebrate similar successes.

You're not some perfect mother robot. And I know that. Because neither am I.

And so I want to apologize—to you, and to myself.

I'm sorry that I’ve perpetuated this perfect persona of you in my mind. I'm sorry because I have let it intimidate me, I have used it to misjudge you, and because—it's just not accurate.

Perfection is boring and you're so much more than that. You're interesting and genuine and are going through a very similar stage of motherhood as me—and that's really comforting to know.

I'm sorry to myself for putting the added pressure on my shoulders of keeping up with—or shaming myself for not keeping up with—this made up perfection of yours.

I seem to have the uncanny ability to pile expectations on myself easy enough, I don't need to add to that pile by striving to be the ‘perfect mother’ when there really is no such thing.

‘Perfect mother’ is, in a way, an oxymoron. No mother is perfect after all, because all mothers are human, and part of being human is making mistakes.

As parents, a lot of our training and experience is gained while on-the-job. So there's a lot of trial and error, and a lot of mistakes. But we learn and we grow and we move on to new parenting hurdles and we make mistakes and learn and move on again. It's a constant cycle.

So remember that even though you may feel like you're the only mother in the world who can never (no matter what it seems!) get herself and her children out the door on time or the only mother to feed her children chicken nuggets and mac and cheese three nights in a row this week—know that you're not.

We are right there with you.

Because for every time that seemingly “perfect mother” dominates the healthy lunch game, her toddler has a meltdown over the broccoli on her plate at dinner time.

And for every time that seemingly “perfect mother” posts a romantic date-night selfie of her and her husband, she snaps at her husband about doing something “the wrong way” and then feels really bad about it.

And for every time that seemingly “perfect mother” looks like she is dominating the #MomLife with her cool, calm and casual attitude, she's also crying in the shower when she allows herself to succumb to the feeling of overwhelm.

And for every time you think she's perfect and you compare yourself to her, she wishes you wouldn't.

Because she's not. And you don't have to be either.

And mostly she wants you to know that she just wants to be your friend—so you can connect with each other, support one another and enjoy the imperfections of motherhood together.

In This Article

    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.

    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

    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

    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

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    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

    One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

    If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

    Stylish storage cabinet

    Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

    Letterboard

    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

    Work + Money

    Dear 2020 baby: Thank you

    This year has been a mess. But you've been the light in the darkness.

    Sweet 2020 baby,

    I just want to say thank you.

    Because in many ways, this year has been a mess.

    A bit of a disaster, really.

    But you.

    You've been the light in the darkness.

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    Life