My family’s big summer plans: Do nothing

After realizing I’m in my third trimester, have a 3 year old and an 18 month old *and* don’t want to go broke this summer—I decided to take the perfection-planning-pressure off completely.

My family’s big summer plans: Do nothing

I started this summer off in a panic. I kept hearing other moms talk about their big, elaborate bucket lists of awesome adventures and activities they were going to tackle. I read lots of Facebook posts about schedules and how everyone had “so many awesome things planned!”

And I was just over here like....ummm, yes, yes, me too.... ? (while sweating.)

I was also silently making notes in my head that included:

  • Research amazing local age-appropriate activities that my kids will love
  • Pick specific days of the week to do certain things/outings, then schedule them out
  • Set a budget for spending on activities for the summer
  • Consult friends to see if they already had anything planned

I may as well have added “have a panic attack” in this mental to-do list, because that’s what it felt like as I was thinking through what our summer “needed” to look like. ?

It made me feel like I had to take to the drawing board and come up with my own summer spectacular of sorts. What was I going to plan for my kids? How was I going to make sure they were having the most fun ever?

Basically—how hard could I mom this summer?

Well, after coming to my senses and realizing I am in my third trimester with my third child, have a 3 year old and an 18 month old and don’t want to go broke this summer—I decided to take the perfection-planning-pressure off completely. ?

So, I ditched the bucket lists and the scouring of the interwebs. And I decided to take the summer camp-swim-club-baseball games-outdoor craft-family vacation Facebook chatter with a grain of salt. Nobody’s summer is going to be totally perfect no matter how many vacations they plan.

I decided it was okay to do our own thing.

I mean—you do you, mama. Seriously. I really mean that. If scheduling and keeping everyone busy and moving and going works best for you—have at it. If you know that’s what’s going to keep you sane this summer, then do that.

(Always do what makes you feel most sane in this crazy world of motherhood.)

But it was giving me very real anxiety to think this way—to force myself to plan every moment and feel like I had to fill every day with activities outside of our home or making plans to see friends or spending money on FUN FUN FUN.

I reminded myself that my kids are going to have an awesome, exciting summer filled with learning and adventure and love—no matter whether I have a laminated special summer calendar on the kitchen wall or not.

So, heres what Im focusing on this summer with my kiddos. This is our minimalist non-bucket list bucket list.

Eat ice cream

Play in our backyard

Splash around in our little baby pool

Meet friends at the park when our schedules align

Pick vegetables from our garden

Go strawberry picking

Accept invites to swim in friend’s pools

Visit with family

Splash in the lake

Feed the ducks

Dig in the dirt, say hi to the worms

Go to a local baseball game

Run outside with our cousins

Take naps

Go to the beach

Read outside

Go on a picnic

Color on the driveway with chalk

Run in the sprinkler

Go to an outdoor movie

Have lazy mornings in our pjs

Most importantly, we’re going to kind of ignore the clock this summer. If I’m being honest, the clock only holds so much clout around our house, anyway. We try to be aware of what time it is and always try our best to be on time—but somehow, we rarely are actually on time. It always makes me feel guilty. (And drives my husband insane, but that’s another story for another day...)

But I am never intentionally trying to be late. It can just be hard for me, for us, for whatever reason. So, I am lessening the time-guilt this summer so we can focus on enjoying the moment. On slowing down. On choosing joy. On appreciating what we have around us. On finding happiness in the small things life has to offer.

On having an amazing summer—our way. ?

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on 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 support Motherly and mamas.

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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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