I’ve spent more time with my family than ever before

I don't think I want to go back to my old life after this.

I’ve spent more time with my family than ever before

Some days I don't feel ready to face my new pandemic reality, so I hide safely under my blankets, my two dogs curled up around me. I zone out, desperate to escape my panic, clutching my phone as I devour celebrity Instagram videos instead of getting up and starting my day. Entertainers with jobs on pause, who are trying to make everything seem normal, trying to prove that they, too, are just like me.

But that's just it. There is no actual escape.

At some point, I have to come out from under those blankets and face the day. I take a good look at myself, at my family and at the surreal situation unfolding before us. I realize how easy it would be to slip away into some dark crevasse of my mind, submitting to the fear the word "quarantine" brings with it.

Instead, I pull myself together and I stand up. In the face of darkness, I turn toward the light and find the positive side of this situation. This is a rare opportunity that we have as parents—the opportunity to slow down and take it one day at a time.

My mind is usually inundated with daily tasks and appointments. Information is typically downloading into my overworked brain at lightning speed. Mornings, filled with "hurry ups" and "get your shoes on," flew by effortlessly as I hurried two boys out the door for school.

At work, I watched the clock, wondering why an hour moved so slowly. My kids came and went. School, track, band, outside, dinner, shower, bed. The little time I actually had with them was short and forgettable.

Now I can pause to ask myself: Is this the life I want to live? Is this the example I want to set for my kids? That life needs to be so busy that we don't even have time for each other? That quality family time is only allowed to happen on the weekend?

In the past few weeks of quarantine, I have spent more quality time with my boys than I have in months. Suddenly, there is time for board games and walks together. A 1,000-piece puzzle graces our countertop as we get lost in its magic. We talk and we laugh. We watch movies and listen to music. It's perfect. There is no clock on our back telling us it's time to go. There is no "hurry up." We have no place to be, no place to go.

We have slowed down; we have all the time in the world.

Don't get me wrong, though. It's definitely no walk in the park. The first several days were excruciating. Depression plus isolation creates a unique combination of triggers; triggers that, if left unchecked, can produce a quick spiral into that crevasse of darkness. This quarantine continually tests me mentally.

The boys bicker and fight, poke and prod each other until I hit my limit. I banish them to their bedrooms and try to compose myself. The minutes tick by and my body screams at me to get out of the house. My skin crawls with agitation. My heart races. There must be an errand to run, there must be someplace to go.

In a time where I have felt trapped inside my own house, I have realized that self-care is a priority for me. It has to be. No more excuses for why I can't take time to do what I love, to do what relaxes me. My mental health depends on it more than ever so I can re-center and re-focus on what is important. So I can take a bath and my brain can decompress and let go of the stress and worry that surrounds me. So I can read and write and process.

As of right now, the end of this quarantine is uncertain. My family is adapting to our new normal as best we can. I am grateful to have this opportunity to slow down, to have no place to be and nowhere to go. When depression lurks around the corner, I stop to take time to address it directly.

Trying times create everlasting bonds that can't be broken. And I'm finding that this quarantine is the bonding time my family and I desperately needed.

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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This oil completely changed my skin this summer

And I'm never going back to lotion.

For all the sweating and swimming I do in the summer, it seems illogical for my skin to be as parched as ever. But your mid-thirties (and 2020 in general) don't really seem to follow any rule book, so here we are.

A couple of months ago, I was on the lookout for a moisturizer that would not only keep my legs from looking like an ashy mess, but also truly nourish and benefit my skin. I've developed a deep interest in skin care for my face over the past few years and decided it's high time to extend that degree of consideration to the rest of my body. (After all, there's more of it, right?)

It's not that I'm too concerned with aging, but let's be real. If there's something that can be done to slow the Wrinkle Express, I'm going to give it a go. I also wanted to find something natural that wouldn't turn into a goopy mess the second I started sweating.

Enter: Esker's Firming Body Oil.

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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