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Sobriety saved my motherhood

The wine culture that social media often promotes might seem to contradict this, but more and more moms are choosing not to drink.

Sobriety saved my motherhood

I spotted a friend recently at the grocery store, and as we tried to quickly update each other on our summer, we ended up commiserating on motherhood and its challenges. And then, she said it: "I don't know how I could do this without wine, I tell you."

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, her eyes widened and she started to apologize. I laughed. I simply answered, "I don't know how I would do it WITH wine! So, we're even!"

I am a sober mom. Initially, I thought there were only a few of us—like we're an endangered species only talked about in recovery circles. The wine culture that social media often promotes might seem to contradict this, but more and more moms are choosing not to drink.

When my children were very little, I leaned heavily on that five o'clock cocktail. I can remember many afternoons when I would be sitting, either miserably hungover or miserably waiting until I could crack open a bottle, watching my boys play with their Thomas the Train set. Envious, I would watch their orchestrations of the train tracks; their glee at a drawbridge, their immediate pleasure in an afternoon of Thomas and graham crackers, with mom nearby.

A 2-year-old is the poster child for living in the moment. I wanted that ability to be in my own skin, feeling no lack or despair or gloom. Instead, I was slowly disappearing. My children would play, toddle over to me to hand me a train or to pat my knee, and I would nod and smile, absently.

One afternoon Henry had a difficult time going down for his much-needed afternoon nap, and I found myself increasingly agitated by his cries. I caught a glimpse of my reflection, bobbing with him in my arms, my face etched with annoyance. And then something inside me shifted and said, "Wake up. He needs you. And you need you, too."

I finally gathered the courage to try sobriety. And, it was not easy.

I was not blessed with an immediately zen-like confirmation of peaceful living in the now. In fact, for weeks, my world was fraught with re-wiring some strung-out behaviors. But eventually, as my days of sobriety started to add up, a happy unfolding in my soul occurred.

When I gave up drinking, I didn't have a plan. I didn't read a lot of books or start a journal, or research "how to not drink when your kids are driving you nuts" on the internet. I just started to listen to what I call my small "inside voice," that had been trying to have a conversation with me for years but had been drowned out by wine.

My inside voice had been quietly uttering things like this:

"You have the strength to do this."

"You deserve to do this."

"Deal with your life, Dana. Put down the glass, and let's do this."

I think we all have such a voice. It's the one that wakes us at four in the morning with a fabulous idea about a new online business, or storyline, or how we should stop coloring our hair and embrace the grey. The voice is soft and is used to being ignored. We moms often end up silencing it because we are exhausted and are surrounded by tiny humans that are dominating our time and brain cells.

But, if we are able and willing, the voice has some really cool stuff to say. And finally, I listened.

Now, my life that had once been hobbled by nightly drinking and morning tiredness has clarity and purpose. I wake up early, headache free, and make breakfast for my boys. As my children inevitably start to bicker over who has more raisins, I eye them quietly over the rim of my coffee mug.

Sober parenting doesn't earn me any medals or drama-free days. There are still tantrums and lack of sleep and endless cycles of colds being passed around. It is far from perfect, but sobriety helped me to stop being so reactionary. I don't feel like I'm always catching up with chaos. Instead, I deal with life on life's terms.

And the benefits keep unfolding. I sleep better. I took up running again, not to combat the bloat of the alcohol, but because I love the vibrancy it adds to my mornings. I eat better, usually, but I also love a great slice of cheesecake. I am selective about life now; not just scrolling through or mindlessly scarfing down. I understand fulfillment. It doesn't have to be metered out in a glass, but in daily experiences with others.

It's not always easy, but it is better. And for me, it was the obvious choice.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

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EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

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Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

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Lorena Canals basket

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This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

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BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

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We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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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.

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