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Prioritizing my self-care saved my motherhood

I still have times when I get caught up in the frenzy of motherhood and put my needs on the back burner for weeks, or even months, at a time. But then I remember my life-changing revelation and I schedule a babysitter and give myself a couple of hours to get back on track.

Prioritizing my self-care saved my motherhood

I can't remember what triggered it. Was it one of the times when my children wouldn't let me go to the bathroom? Or when they woke me up from a nap? Or was it when they ate my piece of chocolate, after eating their own? What I do remember is losing it and yelling, "Mom is a person, too!"

Frustrated, I looked at their perplexed little faces. That's when it dawned on me: this information was new to everyone, myself included.

It wasn't always like this. I thought about when we lived in my hometown in Mexico and I had only my oldest son. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom so I left my full-time job when I was eight months pregnant. Yet when my son was only 4 months old, I began pursuing an online certificate in College Counseling and I had my first student client before my son's first birthday.

I was a wife and a mother and also a student and a burgeoning entrepreneur. More than that, with so much family in Mexico, I was also a devoted daughter, tagging along to help my mom pick out a dress, and a dutiful daughter-in-law, unfailingly attending our weekly family meal. I was also a sister, a granddaughter, a cousin, a niece, not to mention a friend. Sometimes, when I wasn't busy socializing, working or studying, I even found time to exercise.

I also had live-in help. A wonderful woman who cleaned and cooked and occasionally watched my son. Yes. That was a huge reason why I was able to have such a multi-faceted life.

Everything changed when we moved to Switzerland. By the time I had lost it, we had been living there for two years. My oldest son was four, my second son was 18 months and I was pregnant with my third.

I had no family on this side of the ocean, except for my husband who worked over 40 hours a week and traveled often. I had no nanny. And daycare here was prohibitively expensive, as was the cleaning woman who came about once a week.

I can't say I'm proud of yelling at my kids. But I am proud of that moment of revelation. Although I had been going on like this for two years, I realized it couldn't go on any longer. I would either need to find a way to put my needs on the radar, or my husband and kids could visit me back in my hometown.

Around that time, I was reading, ScreamFree Parenting, by Hal Edward Runkel. In his book, he argues that the highest form of love is, "I love me, for your benefit." In other words, in order to give our best to the people we love, we need to love ourselves first.

I jumped right on board. Alone on this side of the ocean, if I didn't take care of my needs, nobody would. And if Mom was not in her right mind, everybody would suffer for it.

That was the day I enrolled in a yoga class, every Wednesday evening. My husband rarely came home before 7 pm, but, determined, I informed him that he needed to be home earlier on yoga night because I was not missing my class. His other choice was to give me two days' notice so I could get a sitter.

With time, I switched from yoga to tennis, and then to the high-energy fitness exercise-to-music Zumba. I eventually found time to step up the pace of my work in college counseling, usually after the kids had gone to bed. And, despite my exhaustion from a mother's day of work, I found it invigorating.

A few years later, I began to take online classes again. Although I was living in a very different context from Mexico, I gradually found a way to be a multi-faceted woman again. And my entire family benefited from it.

I still have times when I get caught up in the frenzy of motherhood and put my needs on the back burner for weeks, or even months, at a time. But then I remember my life-changing revelation and I schedule a babysitter and give myself a couple of hours to get back on track.

As for the chocolate, I won't let my kids eat mine, not if I really want it and they've already had their own. Call me selfish, but hey, Mom loves chocolate. And Mom is a person too.

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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

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

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

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

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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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