To my only child as we live through this pandemic—you amaze me

Thank you for being such a champ during this challenging time.

child doing homeschool work during coronavirus quarantine

Hi my darling, my only child. I love you so, so much.

All through the first months of this pandemic, you've adapted to a tremendous amount of change.

You've gone from being surrounded by classmates all day to being in the constant presence of adults, with no access to your peers.

You've had video chats with friends and classmates, but otherwise, you've had no one to talk to but us, your parents.

You've gone from a rich calendar of school, after-school activities, sports and scouts to solitary schoolwork with headphones, followed by hours of uninterrupted, unscheduled free time while your dad and I frantically try to stay on top of work.

You've been forced to give up playing with other kids on playgrounds and soccer fields and the schoolyard, and now you play by yourself every day.

I never regretted our decision to have just one child—we've got a wonderful life with you, and I wouldn't change it. But now I'm wondering if it's okay for you to go without interacting in-person with other children for so long.

Experts have reassured us that you'll be fine. Children are naturally social, yes, but they are also naturally adaptable, too. And while there are no long-term scientific studies (yet) focusing on singleton kids in extended isolation from their peers, research has proven over and over again that only children are just as capable of handling big changes as kids with siblings.

Other experts point out that in some ways, only children may actually benefit in this situation—with fewer kids to compete with for parental attention, their emotional needs might be met that much faster. And still other experts note that every summer when school lets out, many kids take a three-month break from their socially-intense schedules in favor of hanging out mostly with their parents, and everybody makes out just fine.

So much for the experts. There's also what I can see just from observing you, my wonder, my sweetheart. And the truth is, you seem…really great.

Like most onlies, you have always been happy to play by yourself. And you've always loved reading and spending whole afternoons traveling on long flights of imagination. How many times this month have I interrupted you while you were quietly engrossed in some kind of play—thinking you'd be grateful for some attention or human interaction—and been met with a ferocious scowl? "Mama! I'm playing! Can you please close the door?" Just like old times.

I admit there are times during these strange and terrible days when I have to wonder if you're really as okay as you seem to be.

I also have to ask myself, over and over again, how we got so lucky.

Because I feel like I could take some lessons from you in adapting to change. You've had your sad moments—we all have—but I've never seen anything as remarkable as your ability to adapt, to find adventure in the most aimless of neighborhood walks and to make fun out of nothing at all.

I love how you've risen to the challenge of this time. You jump into action, helping to make dinner whenever I ask you. You always have creative ideas for spending time together as a family—"Something with no screens, please, I've been working on school stuff all day!" And when I got aggravated at something this morning, you calmly suggested, "Mama, maybe you should drink a glass of water."

I can only hope that spending so much time in close proximity with your grownups will help you on the journey to your own adulthood. It doesn't seem crazy or harmful to imagine that one of the long-term effects of this time might be that you will become a little more self-sufficient, a little more mature. Our grown-up-ness might rub off on you in helpful ways, just as your blessed ability to roll with change is (hopefully) rubbing off on us.

You've taught me so much about my own endurance and my own ability to master my fears. You've taught me, by example, how to appreciate a moment of quiet in a full, busy life.

Even with all the uncertainty and anxiety swirling around us, all this extra time we've gotten to spend with you has been a gift—a truly precious, unexpected thing, in spite of the stress.

Thank you, my sweet girl. My strong, funny, adaptable only child. My heart's dearest love.

<p> Siobhan Adcock is the Experts Editor at Motherly and the author of two novels about motherhood, <a href="" target="_blank">The Completionist</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">The Barter</a>. Her writing has also appeared in Romper, Bustle, Ms., McSweeney's, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Chicago Review of Books and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. </p>

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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These kids dishes don’t look like kids dishes

And that's exactly why my toddler loves them. ❤️

My 4.5-year-old is, let's say, spirited in his opinions. He very clearly knows what he wants and doesn't want (oh to have the confidence of a stubborn preschooler!). And what he doesn't want right now is anything that looks too babyish. "That's for babies," he'll say if I give him anything with primary colors or looks too miniature. He doesn't want the baby fork and spoon, he wants what grown-ups use. He doesn't want the baby plastic cups and plates, he wants the glass and ceramic ones.

Well, you can see where this is going.

I had to find something that would satisfy his "not a baby" opinions but still not shatter to pieces if he accidentally drops it on the floor. I had to find him something that's made for kids but doesn't feel made for kids.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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