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The Brits have the perfect solution for new-motherhood loneliness

The British approach prenatal classes totally differently. And brilliantly.

The Brits have the perfect solution for new-motherhood loneliness

The United Kingdom gets a lot of things right when it comes to having a baby: One-year maternity leave, in-home midwife visits after baby arrives, health visitors who are focused on making sure you are hanging in there… I could go on.


But by far the most valuable thing that the United Kingdom has over us here in the states is their approach to prenatal classes.

Here in the United States we are all about efficiency. How quickly can I tick that box and be bombarded with a crash course in labor and delivery, get it over with and move on to the more fun aspects of having a baby, like designing a nursery?

Trust me, I get it! The thought of sitting in a room and hearing all of the gory details about what is about to happen to you and what you have spent most of your nine months trying not to think about isn’t anyone’s idea of a fun weekend afternoon.

There is a better way with prenatal classes. And it’s done in the United Kingdom.

There, they looks at prenatal classes as an opportunity. I had my boys living abroad, far from family and friends with kids. I was told to sign up for the National Childbirth Trust—a class which sorted participants by neighborhood and due date.

It was where I would “meet all of my mommy friends,” I was told. As it turned out, that was true: Over the course of four classes, my hubby and I made a tight-knit circle of friends—all with babies born within a month of each other.

After our son was born, I had a standing coffee morning on the books to get me out of the house, friends to take walks with and friends who would just stop by for a cup of tea on their way to the grocery store. We also had BBQs and weekends at the playground as families, which were great ways for the husbands to socialize, too.

As pregnant mothers, we are all so vulnerable, excited and terrified about the changes that are about to happen to us. That vulnerability makes us open to connections with people who are going through the same things.

It’s hard to make friends as adults—as evidenced by the onslaught of mommy-Tinder apps designed to help connect us as new parents. But with pregnancy as the common thread, it’s so much easier.

With our class, we developed our modern-day village—a support network of couples that helped each other through illness, loneliness, marital problems and the usual baby drama. We also provided each other with companionship during those sometimes endless and monotonous days with a newborn.

Over time, as we all started going back to work or moving away, some of the friendships faded. But, to this day, even with an ocean between us, some of my best friends are from that experience.

What most expectant parents here do is kick that can down the road and figure they will make their mommy friends when they are already mommies. That can work, too, but not for everyone.

I know from my experience if I had waited until my baby arrived to seek out mommy friends, I would have been so preoccupied with my baby—worried about them getting sick, if I was feeding correctly, if they were getting enough sleep—and being sleep deprived, not feeling myself.

By not having to worry yet about any of that, I was able to focus on connecting with people that that when my baby arrived I didn't have to try so hard. Those friends were already there for me.

That’s not the story I hear time and time again here. Many friends have spent the first couple years of their babies life so lonely and isolated and it impedes their ability to enjoy those early months with their baby because they themselves aren’t happy.

Instead, let’s follow the Brits’ lead on this one and start building our villages before baby arrives.

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

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

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

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.

$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

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.

$88

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Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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