To the mama that taught me motherhood is not a competition, thank you

With that one comment, this stranger was telling me, in true mom code, the one thing all mothers need to hear: Motherhood is hard—for everyone.

To the mama that taught me motherhood is not a competition, thank you

The snow had been falling for a week straight. My two children were on their fourth straight snow day, but my son's basketball practice wasn't called off. The kids and I were all going stir-crazy inside the house, so I took my chances. We all bundled up and escaped to watch my son play a little basketball. The second we walked through those doors and into the gymnasium, I regretted that decision immensely.

My son hurried onto the court to join his buddies shooting hoops. I pulled up two chairs for myself and my preschool-aged daughter. I came prepared. I packed snacks and her small book bag full of toys. But from the get-go, she wasn't having it. And the accumulated snow and time spent inside the walls of our house made both of us combative.


First, she started whining for "more stuff to do," then she didn't like the snacks I packed, and then came the full-blown tantrum.

"You're fine," I told her. "Play with what you have."

I smiled and shrugged my shoulders at the mothers around me, but inside I felt like I was melting. Sweat seeped from my forehead and armpits. I was a veteran mom; I knew that sometimes kids simply act like jerks, but the stress of it all got to me. I started to choke down my tears. Motherhood had overwhelmed me once again.

But as soon as I was going to cave and let those tears skip down my cheeks, another mother pulled up her chair.

This woman had two small boys with her and one more bouncing a ball on the court. She motioned to her preschool-aged son and said, "Can you share your crayons and coloring book with the little girl?" The boy smiled and walked over to my daughter. She smiled back and the two immediately began coloring together. A snow day miracle.

Right away, the other mother and I began chit-chatting. I didn't waste any time admitting my current feelings.

"It's just been a really hard week. The kids, the snow days, being stuck inside, and all they do is fight." I quite literally couldn't shut up. I started to vent and I couldn't stop. And she didn't mind, not one bit.

"Oh, I hear you," she said. "Don't worry. I've been there. Just because my kids are behaving right now, doesn't mean they do at home!"

With that one comment, this stranger was telling me, in true mom code, the one thing all mothers need to hear: Motherhood is hard—for everyone.

Her response quieted the stress within me that motherhood often brings. She allowed me to feel a lot better about the week I was having. I was doing better than I thought, after all.

This mother made me recognize that I am not alone—no mother is. And this stranger, she had far more to complain about compared to me. She already had three children (compared to my two) and was 37 weeks pregnant with another on the way. Now, that is a lot to handle. But you know what? She wasn't interested in making motherhood into a competition. Instead, she was in the business of building women up—not tearing them down.

So often we see mothers interested in competing against one another, especially on social media. But what goes unseen are the women who are in the trenches with other mothers lending out a helping hand—getting them out of their holes instead of pushing them in deeper. There are plenty of mothers out there, just like the lovely stranger at my son's basketball practice. And it's time they get the salutes they deserve.

When you see a mother sinking into a hole, don't pat yourself on the back and think what a great job I'm doing. Instead, remember the times you desperately wished someone had extended a hand out to you—and helped pull you up. Be that person for someone else—that person all mothers need from time-to-time.

Motherhood isn't a competition. It's a game to be played together.

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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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.


"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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