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Motherhood is: Having no days off

You should know that every day no longer belongs to you. It belongs to your baby.

Motherhood is: Having no days off

Take a shower

Sleep in

Go grocery shopping

Workout

Sit in a quiet room by myself

Go out to eat with my husband as much as I can

Read a book

Enjoy my hobbies

Tidy up the house

Go to the bathroom...and take my time

This was my "last chance" list. It was their answers to the question, "If you knew then what you know now, what would you do before you had your first baby?" They being every mom I knew. I created it in my 35th week of pregnancy knowing that, very soon, things would soon never be the same.

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Honestly, I was a little disappointed in the answers. I thought they would be a lot less, well, mundane. But at eight months pregnant, I couldn't move much anyway sooo the tasks fit my state well. I dutifully did them all and declared myself all ready.

Fast forward to me 10 weeks post-baby, hovering outside my husband's home office, just hoping I could get him to watch my daughter before he left for work so I could squeeze in a shower. Just the thought of that hot water on my crusty face, those clean, soapy bubbles all over my milk and spit-up-covered body, the sound of nothing but water rushing over me was pure bliss.

I patted my pregnant, naïve self on the back for her efforts. But there's no way she could've known what I know now.

If a pregnant woman asked me that question today, my answer would be, "That's not the question you need to ask."

What you need to know is what you won't be able to do anymore.

You should know that every time you walk across a room, you'll have a flailing baby in one arm, leaving little-to-no room in the other to pick up the mess she's created in her wake.

You should know that your husband will ask you at the end of the day what you did, and you'll struggle to remember "What, exactly, did I do?"

You should know that your body is no longer your own. Especially if you're breastfeeding and your little one can't go more than two hours without suckling on you. Which also means everything you wear from now on must be easy to open and hard to care about because it will get soaked at some point in your day.

You should know that every day no longer belongs to you. It belongs to your baby. And right when you think you've got the hang of it, they'll switch it up on you.

This takes some getting used to—for everyone. But I got there. I got used to the chaos. I got used to our new normal. I caught my groove. And I was feeling particularly proud of myself once I got to this place. I had even mastered my morning shower. (The trick was to bring her Pack & Play in the bathroom with me during her highest energy peak in the mid-morning).

And then, it happened. I caught the flu. You know, where you spend half your day in bed and the other near a toilet flu?

My husband cancelled his work trip and stayed home with our girl the next two days so I could recover and keep my distance from her. For the next 48 hours, I was banished to my bedroom. No contact with my daughter allowed.

I may have slept more during those two days than I have all three months, three weeks, and three days since my baby was born. I would only come up for air to pump and fill up my gigantic bottle of water.

Of course, before heading back down, I'd wave longingly at my daughter from across the room as she cooed in her Daddy's lap. She'd glance my way and flash me THE biggest, cutest smile, and with her big brown eyes, she'd say to me, "MOMMY! There you are! Where have you been? I miss you!" It was agony. Pure agony.

As I sat there, staring up at the ceiling, in between naps, it occurred to me. I've been begging for this amount of freedom for months. For a brief moment in time, every cry was not mine to answer. Every poop was not mine to change. Both of my hands were free to use them for whatever I please—read my food science book, type up a blog post, watch that business webinar, do a yoga session, pitch an article. Time for the things that used to define me before my daughter entered my life. The things I yearn for on weekday afternoons when my daughter just can't close her eyes.

Though I was still sick, near the end of the second day, I scrounged up the energy to do some of those things. But here's the crazy part: With every aching bone in my body, I would've dropped them all in a heartbeat just to hold my girl in my arms again.

Yes, I realize that we're talking two days here, not years. But when you've spent every waking (and sleeping) moment with a human being for three months, three weeks, and three days, they become a part of you. And suddenly, you couldn't dream of having it any other way.

At the end of our 48-hour stint, my husband had to leave to catch an early flight. Our plan was to switch places as soon as she woke up. Instead of getting my last few moments of precious sleep, I found myself hovering over her crib at 5:30 am, just watching her breathe, waiting for her to stir.

At 5:42 a.m., her eyes popped open. We locked eyes, smiled, and picked up right where we left off.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Wooden digital camera

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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.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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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

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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

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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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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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