My kids are becoming best friends right before my eyes

At this moment, in this chaos—they not only have each other, but they have also FOUND each other.

siblings becoming best friends

It is now Day 263 (or so it seems) of doing our part to help flatten the curve. Like most, my children aren't going to school or daycare. They aren't seeing their family or friends. They spend their days mostly inside, safe, but isolated from everything and everyone that once was their norm.

My daughter is about to turn five and my son is two. I truly expected being quarantined at home turning into an all-out war between them. Don't get me wrong, some days it is, with my daughter yelling, "Mommmmy he took my (insert doll/book/blanket)," and my son retorting, "NO! NO! NO! IT'S MINE". Sometimes it's fighting over the same pink fork or which one gets to sit sideways on my right knee (specifically).


The ups and downs, the managing of emotions, the endlessness. Say it with me moms: It. Is. Exhausting.

But there has been an unexpected result of the forced togetherness. One that I didn't see coming. While in the kitchen the other day, trying to sneak in some meal prep, I overheard them talking in the playroom.

Sister: "Do you want me to read to you?"

Brother: "Yes!"

Sister: "Come sit with me up here."

He proceeded to go over to the couch and climbed up to snuggle next to her. Before she started to read, she leaned into him and said, "You're my best friend. I love you." Automatically, he said, "I love you, too."

I froze. Then smiled. Felt all the feels.

And then it dawned on me: At this moment, in this chaos—during the hardest of times in isolation, disruption and all of the unknowns—they not only have each other, but they have also FOUND each other.

Sure, they still scream at each other. Loudly. And they likely always will. But—and maybe it is just the delirium setting in—I am finding those squabbles to be less frequent. Instead, I see my daughter patiently teaching my son the alphabet.

I see them holding hands walking around the house, and then again, sitting at the dinner table.

I hear their wild giggles.

I see them play Barbies and tractors.

I hear my son sweetly call for his sister when he wakes.

I know he won't go to bed and can't fall asleep without hugging and kissing her.

And when he is upset she will stop me from going to comfort him. Instead, she says, "It's okay, Mommy, you can do what you have to do. I can do this. I can make him all better." And then… she does.

My kids have become best friends. And it is so beautiful.

As a working mom (any mom, really) I am a juggler of kids, home, work, friends, food, schedules, playdates and, well, life. I would never say I am a master at balancing everything, but I do a pretty good job of managing it all.

These days, though, everything is magnified and it's all that much harder. I have been engulfed in the stress of it all. Overwhelmed by simultaneously trying to score a grocery delivery time slot at 12:00am, checking my daughter's sentences and writing, getting a proposal out to a client in record time and checking on my elderly father, making sure he has enough food and toilet paper.

So overwhelmed, in fact, that I almost missed what was happening right in front of me, until that moment when I heard their exchange. Since then I have taken a breath and stopped to appreciate—really appreciate—what they have. What I have. I am watching my children learn more about each other every single day, helping them forge a bond that I hope will always stay with them.

But let's be honest, selfishly their bond has made this whole situation slightly easier on me. With my laptop on one side of me, kids on the other, I can ask my daughter to read a book to her brother while I respond to a fire drill email. I can have them paint paper plate pictures together in the kitchen while I unload the dishwasher. And (my favorite so far!) I can send my daughter into my son's room in the morning to entertain him while I take an extra five minutes to wake up.

Most of the time they are just happy to be together. And these days, that is a huge blessing.

So while this pandemic has uprooted just about everything in our lives, I am lucky they have each other. They are lucky to have this time together and I feel grateful I can witness it firsthand. Years from now, they might be too young to remember the parks being closed, schools being shut down and everyone wearing masks, but I have no doubt the friendship they have formed during this time is something they will never forget.

14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

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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As a mom, I say the phrase 'let me just…' to my kids more times a day than I can count.

Yes, I can help you log into your class, let me just send this email.
Yes, I can play with you, let me just make one more call.
Yes, I can get you a snack, let me just empty the dishwasher.

I say it a lot at work, too.

Yes, I can write that article, let me just clear my inbox.
Yes, I can clear my inbox, let me just finish this meeting.
Yes, I can attend that meeting, let me just get this project out the door.

The problem is that every 'let me just' is followed by another 'let me just'... and by the time they're all done, the day is over, and I didn't do most of the things I intended—and I feel pretty bad about myself because of it.

I wasn't present with my kids today.
I didn't meet that deadline.
I couldn't muster the energy to cook dinner.
The house is a mess. I am a mess. The world is a mess.

It's okay, I tell myself. Let me just try again tomorrow.

But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes and the list of things I didn't get to or didn't do well bears down on my shoulders and my heart, and all I can think is, "I am failing."

And I think that maybe I'm not alone.

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