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To the mama who is barely hanging on

Weary mama,

I drove past you the other day. You were on a walk with an infant strapped to your chest, the handle of a stroller in your left hand, and the leash of your small and energetic dog nearly yanking your right shoulder out of its socket. Your face said it all.

Your eyes told me you had reached the end of your rope. Your expression told me that you're clinging to some sort of freedom you refuse to lay down. But, I got the feeling that your world is putting up such a fight that you're not sure it's worth it some days.

I'm sure you were stuck in the house all day and the walls felt like they were closing in on you.

I'm sure you grew tired of cleaning up the same 15 toys a dozen times.

I'm sure you started to wonder if all this mothering of little ones is making a difference or not.

I'm sure you found yourself wondering where you are these days.

I'm sure you need a break.

You've given up career advancement. You've let friendships slip to the back-burner. You can't remember the last time you had a girls' night out or ate with both hands in your very own kitchen. For that matter, you can't recall the last time you actually sat down to enjoy your own meal.

You sometimes wonder if you and your husband live on two entirely different planets. The most pressing household needs—hungry children, sticky fingers, toys strewn under the dining room table three minutes before dinner is served, poopy diapers—seem to complete for both of your attention.

And in these different worlds, he still gets to hold onto pieces of his life that you feel like you haven't seen in years ago. He makes time for Saturday morning golf, Friday afternoon happy hour, and career development seminars. He makes time for football games, haircuts, and morning workouts at the gym.

And you're feeling like your individuality doesn't really exist anymore.

You've paused hobbies and have put personal passions aside during this season of life. You traded in your gym membership for baby yoga in the living room, and you now cut your own hair every six months using a complicated system of tilted mirrors. Because they're easier for now; they fit your life now.

I know these things, woman with two children and a yanking dog, because I've been where you are. I was there, and I lost myself 1,000 times. But—I'm here to tell you—I've made it to the other side. And the woman I've found there is a woman I'd like to spend a day with. She's a woman who I happen to like more than the single woman who had a thriving career, passion for travel, strict workout routine, and full social schedule.

I found that when I learned to let go of the rope I was ferociously clinging to, I was forced to jump into a new kind of life. And as it turns out, letting go of that rope was the greatest gift.

Letting go made me a bit gentler. It taught me that I don't have all the answers and that, the longer I live, the fewer answers I seem to have.

Letting go softened me. It slowed me down. It invited me into a life that's less about me and what I want in any given moment, and more about others and how I can invest in a way that brings joy to the lives of others.

Letting go taught me that I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to keep it all together or put on a mask. I simply need to show up.

So, lady with the kids and the yanking dog, I applaud you. I applaud you for trying, and I applaud you for showing up.

I see it on your face that you're barely hanging on, and I'm here to encourage you that letting go isn't as terrifying as you thought it might be. Let go of all that's draining you dry, and keep putting one tired foot in front of the other in all your human imperfection.

This season won't last nearly as long as you expect, and when you emerge on the other side, the woman you've become will look back on the journey with a tender smile. Because you're accomplishing so much, every single day—and it's really pretty amazing, mama. It's just hard to recognize that in the fog.

There are clear skies ahead, though—promise.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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

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

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

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

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