To all the single moms who feel the intensity of being the only parent—I see you

My son and I remain a two-person squad, untouched by outside influence, interacting with each other on the most fundamental level.

To all the single moms who feel the intensity of being the only parent—I see you

As a single mom to an only child, I constantly hear that I must have a unique bond with my son. If by "unique," people mean "super intense," then I couldn't agree more. When it's just you and a little one, there is no such thing as the favorite, or the out-of-favor, parent.

I am all and nothing.

I am the one my son jumps on for hugs when overcome with love. I am the one who, seconds later, is being growled at because his feelings just did a 360. All little humans find difficulty in learning to navigate these big feelings. And as a solo parent supporting my son through these, I bear the brunt and the beauty of Every. Single. One.

The intensity of our relationship isn't just because of the practicalities of being constantly together, but because of how our interactions occur with no one else around. The physical attachment my son has with me is intense to the nth degree. Perhaps the presence of another adult to hold him, or another child in my arms, would have curtailed this slightly, but that's not our reality.


It's not enough for my son to sleep in my bed beside me; he must hold my cheeks tightly until he slips into sleep. Depending on how fast midnight is approaching decides how I take this abundant display of physical affection. While it sounds adorable, it can also be excruciatingly claustrophobic. We are like magnets spinning, alternately attracting and repelling each other with equal force, depending on the moment.

Our emotional attachment is arguably even stronger than this physical pull. I rarely go anywhere without my son and when I do, I wonder how I will manage. What will I say? Who will I talk to? It may sound unhealthy, but I struggle to know who I am without him by my side.

It's more an apprehension than a reality—on the odd occasion I am out alone, things are easier than I feared. And it seems my son has similar concerns. He's struggled with going to nursery school for most of the three years he's been attending. It's a rare occasion when he doesn't demand to stay home with me instead (despite me going to work) and there's been various phases of tears as I peel him off me at the door. Yet his teachers always report back that he's fine throughout the day.

With 50% of my genes and 100% of my nurture, I've created a chip off the old block in the form of a 4-year old boy. Imagine, if you can, your weaknesses confronting your weaknesses. Navigating a way around them without a head-on collision is a struggle for us both. As the only parent, there's no one to hide behind when apportioning blame for the clone-nisation of these traits.

At times it feels like I've failed. Would the presence of another person have tempered us and tamed our weaknesses? But then other times I'm proud of our similarities. I often look into my son's eyes and see exactly what he is feeling because it's how I felt as a child—it's like sharing your life with a living emotional diary.

There's a mystery to our connection, too. On occasions, my son has told me about his dream in the morning and it's been the same as mine. I'm not one for psychic connections—no doubt a shared moment was the trigger, yet that belittles the strength of our actual connection.

There are no obvious triggers for such shared dreams—like where we went that day, or the bedtime story I read—any link is too subtle to be identified by the conscious mind. Our brains have become wired to make the same coupling even in our sleep. It's weird and wonderful in equal measure.

There's no denying the intensity between us amplifies our challenges. We both feel the lack of another human distracting us from the exhaustion and annoyance we sometimes feel with each other. At times this pushes us to a breaking point, like when bedtime goes so wrong that sleep only occurs after screams and tears on both sides.

A partner, or another child, would change this relationship in an instance—for better and for worse—but change it would. Until that day, my son and I remain a two-person squad, untouched by outside influence, interacting with each other on the most fundamental level.

Together-alone, we are our ultimate selves and it's been a privilege to have these past four years with my son in this setting; living with traditions that only the two of us witness, or even know exist.

No matter what comes next, our unique bond has built a strong foundation for our relationship for the rest of our lives, and I'm incredibly grateful to have been given the gift of being my son's mother.

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.


Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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


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.


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.


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


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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