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To the sensitive kids—I see you

To the empaths, the worriers, the sensitive ones who pick up on feelings without words even being uttered. I get you.

sensitive kids

To the kids feeling nervous in this new world of quiet chaos. I hear you.

To the kids who know coronavirus is scary but don't know why. I see you.

To the empaths, the worriers, the sensitive ones who pick up on feelings without words even being uttered. I get you.

When I was your age, I was you.

I was 10 years old in 1990 during the Gulf War. I remember watching the news and feeling nervous, despite it being on the other side of the world. I cried when my mom tucked me in and told her I didn't want anyone to fight or die. Our fifth grade class wrote letters to the troops. I still have the postcard I received in return:

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Dear Jessica,

Thanks for writing! No I didn't see Bob Hope, I arrived too late. The food here is great. The unit has its own cooks. Yesterday we ate chicken for dinner. How's the fifth grade treating you? Hope you're having fun. We are here. There's no more fighting so it's fun. Say hi to everyone for me.

Your friend,

John L.

John L., who fought in an actual war, seemed to be dealing with the fallout better than I was. At least on paper.

I have always felt the influence of tragedies that don't affect me personally. Wars, natural disasters, Leonard Cohen's death—I can easily absorb the aura of those closest to the pain. As I've grown older, I've learned to distance myself when I need to, to step away from the headlines, to realize I can care without having to get wrapped up in the hurt.

My 4-year-old son is emotionally intuitive in the same way. During our first week of COVID-19 school closures, I remained calm on the outside but was rattled on the inside—not just due to the weight of the pandemic or any political blunders going on, but also because of the resulting homeschooling content that suddenly flooded my social media feed.

It was as if parents everywhere were expected to become English and math and science teachers...overnight.

I browsed curriculums that seemed too rigid for a preschooler: 9:30 am letters, 10:00 am numbers, 10:30 am foreign language, etc. The thought of following this while also minding my 1-year-old made me laugh. And cry.

I washed my hands so often that my knuckles cracked and my skin grew raw. My son swiftly picked up on the unease around him. He became a contrarian by day, and fought bedtime with renewed vigor at night.

But I couldn't fault him. He didn't know why he felt the way he did. He just felt it. This openness to feeling the weight of the world is a good thing. It fosters connection and empathy. The trick is to not let it consume you, which can be challenging for a kiddo to understand.

Social distancing, self-isolation, quarantine, #alonetogether. These terms have quickly become a part of our daily lexicon. But what language do we use to tell our kids what's happening?

Sesame Street has ideas. Daniel Tiger has tips. I'm grateful for those resources, but I haven't said anything specific about all of this to my 4-year-old yet. I don't want to add any more unnecessary worries onto his plate.

A life-sized diorama at one of our local museums depicts a group of Plains Native Americans riding horses to drive bison over a cliff. On our last visit, this exhibit transfixed my son. He stared, speechless, as I explained what it meant. He talked about it for days afterward.

What happens when the buffaloes fall off the cliff? Do they die? What if the buffaloes chase the horses off the cliff? Please tell me, mommy. Why do they do that?

Given that he's still wrapping his head around a bison hunt that happened about 1,000 years ago, I've decided I'm going to save the coronavirus talk for another day. Our homeschooling curriculum has been a mix of activities that feed our creativity—often involving numbers, shapes or colors—the main goal being to embrace art, music, stories and nature. Not getting lost in the chaos.

There's enough worry going around. And what I've realized over and over again is that you have to do what's best for your child. Because after all, you are the one who knows them best.

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.

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