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The beauty of an ordinary day with my kids

The minutes I spent on my kitchen floor that day playing with my sons didn't seem glamorous or spectacular in any way, and yet it is in these ordinary days where the best memories are made.

ordinary-day

The water sloshed around in the bin as I carried it from the bathroom to the kitchen, droplets splashing onto the floor. I made a mental note to wipe it up before someone slipped. I think moms make about three million mental notes per day.

I carefully set the bin down onto a spread out towel on the floor, my 3-year-old excitedly stomping behind me. As soon as the bin hit the towel, my son transformed it into a giant lake infested with crocodiles and wacky creatures, courtesy of a little boy's imagination.

His boat zoomed across the water, Batman in hot pursuit of the villain. Conveniently located to the left of the lake was a building which housed a few jail cells. Several bad guys had already been dealt justice, their blank eyes staring through gray bars.

To the right of the lake stood a cardboard town made of varying sizes of boxes covered with construction paper and decorated with the art of four toddler hands. There was a tall purple bank, a short orange church, and several colorful homes. A construction paper roadway provided the citizens of Cardboardville a way into the bustling town where trees grew in random places and people walked their squirrels.

My 1-year-old son joined in the fun, running his car along the road. "Vroom, vroom" he squealed as his car crashed through several trees and slammed into the bank. His thin, wispy curls were so adorable, and, oh my goodness, he had a smile that could melt me. (He still does.) "Whoa! Slow down!" I said, giggling, and I brought my little car alongside his. "Let's race!" I said, and off we went!

"Look, mommy! Batman got the Joker!" I turned to my firstborn to see his broad smile as he held up the captured foe for me to see before he tossed him into a jail cell. "Way to go, Batman! The city is saved," I affirmed.

This was just an ordinary day, but it produced extraordinary memories that I cherish more with each passing year. The minutes I spent on my kitchen floor that day playing with my sons didn't seem glamorous or spectacular in any way, and yet it is in these ordinary days where the best memories are made.

When I am intentional about slowing down and paying attention, in those minutes, I am happy. My children are happy. These are the kind of minutes that a joyful life is made of.

The ordinary days of motherhood are filled with challenges, but they're also filled with magic. They are tiresome and yet fulfilling. It's easy to miss the beauty for the chaos, though. It's easy to become so distracted and overwhelmed that the beauty gets by us.

Between the shuffling, the racing, the planning, and the doing, those beautiful moments of being often slip right past us, unnoticed and unappreciated. The end of the day comes, and it all feels like a blur, and the last thing I want is a blurry life gone by because I was too busy and distracted to enjoy living.

The idea of making it to the end of this motherhood marathon with loads of regret for not having paid attention or collecting those beautiful memories is unbearable.

That is why I decided upon a strategy to capture those moments and store them away in my heart. Mama, can I give you that simple strategy to help you slow down and capture a bit of the magic?

A couple of years ago, I was so overwhelmed, so busy, so lost in the chaos that I was missing out on the beauty of my ordinary days. I didn't need another big commitment, but I knew I had to do something to reclaim my joy.

I decided I would start small.

I knew from past experience that it would be best not to overwhelm myself with another to-do. I wanted a simple, effective strategy that didn't feel like an added chore, so I landed on 10 minutes a day. I determined that for 10 minutes I would put aside everything else and be present with my family.

I got curious about how just 10 minutes per day would impact my own motherhood and my life, so I added up how many joyful minutes I'd gain over the next 10 years (until my youngest child reaches 18 and potentially leaves my nest). I discovered that if I practice joy with my kids for just 10 minutes per day, I'll gain 36,500 joyful minutes. That's a lot of happy!

The possibilities are endless.
Ten minutes of reading aloud or building Lego creations.
Ten minutes of Go Fish or stirring the brownie batter and pouring it in a pan.
Ten minutes of snuggling. Ten minutes of listening. Or talking. Ten minutes of undivided attention. It's an achievable goal.

Just 10 minutes a day equals 36,500 more minutes of happiness during their remaining childhoods.

Thirty-six thousand five hundred more smiles my kids see.
Thirty-six thousand five hundred more minutes of feeling loved, cherished, and seen.
Thirty-six thousand five hundred more minutes of feeling connected.
Thirty-six thousand five hundred more minutes of focusing on those that matter most to me.
Thirty-six thousand five hundred minutes of happy memories.

It may not seem like much, but small efforts strung together to create significant change. Time slows down just the tiniest bit during those 10 mindful minutes. Your life and your children's lives are mostly made up of ordinary days—days where nothing spectacular seemingly happens—the same old routine.

The ordinary becomes extraordinary when you open your eyes to the wonder and beauty all around you. It can be seen in the sunrise and the sunset, in the budding trees and fallen leaves, in your child's smile and sleeping face, in the scattered toys, the fingerprints on the door, and in the comforting hug. In that sense, every ordinary day is an extraordinary gift.

Pause for 10 minutes today to see the miracles around you, and I think you'll find joy there.

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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.

$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

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

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

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

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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Two weeks. I cannot believe that it has been two weeks since my second son was brought into this world. Two weeks since my husband and I welcomed baby Simon, the final piece of our little family.

But, here is the whopper: It has been two weeks since I have been the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I am now responsible for taking care of two tiny humans.

It absolutely blows my mind how much my life has changed in the last two weeks. It's definitely not all rainbows and unicorns around here, but things are going pretty well. This is me being cautiously optimistic.

What I have done is learned a lot about myself, my kids and my new life in the last two weeks.

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