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True life: I’m the default parent

My number is the one called by the preschool, my name is the one known by nurses at the doctor's office, and when there is a snow day, there is no question about who will rearrange work.

True life: I’m the default parent

I am in the midst of the days I always dreamed of—raising wonderful, precocious children with an abundance of support from my partner. I know it's good, I really do. And if you ask me to take a step back and think about the sentiment that comes to mind when I think of this amazing gift, my honest response is that I'm so grateful.

But, if I'm also being honest there is more pressure on me at any given moment of time (even 3 am when I'm in a dead slumber) than anything I experienced before having kids. At least when it comes to that measure, that isn't a weight evenly shared with my partner.

Being the "default parent" really means I'm the "expect the unexpected parent," who must structure my days, weeks, life as I know it, around being able to change course at a moment's notice. It's as if there was a workplace surprise and the boss has to go into crisis mode and try to remember what they are supposed to do and how they can keep everyone else calm—except, with two young kids, that's happening on a nearly weekly basis.

This is my role and I'm still navigating how to play it.

Being the default parent means my number is the one called by the preschool…

Being the default parent means my name is the one known by nurses at the doctor's office…

Being the default parent means when there is a snow day, there is no question about who will rearrange work…

Then there are the ways in which nature predetermined me to be the default parent, as it recently occurred to me when I realized I've been pregnant and/or nursing for four years with the exception of just three weeks. Those simply weren't responsibilities up for discussion to share with my partner.

Sometimes these responsibilities—small as they may seem when taken individually—feel really heavy when I consider the sum. My time is stretched thin, my organizational abilities are tested and my body doesn't even feel like it's entirely my own.

And while my husband has been my go-to confidant for years, this is something he doesn't or can't really get. Just like I can't really get the weight of responsibility he carries in providing for our family as the default provider. For us and our dynamics, this is how "working like a team" looks—only it can be hard when it feels like we're standing on two opposite ends of the field playing either offense or defense single-handedly.

Then, at the end of the day, we come together to recount our battles and celebrate our victories and strategize about how we can keep improving, keep helping each other better. Still, while I honestly couldn't ask for more, we seem to operate best when we're working as specialists.

But being the default parent is not a case of taking the good with the bad; the stage of early motherhood has challenged me to find the good in the bad. Rather than thinking about all of these things as obligations, it always serves me well to remember what opportunities they really are.

I am the one who gets to observe my son listening to his teachers, playing with friends and being so kind when I arrive a few minutes early to school pick-up…

I am the one who my kids turn to for snuggles and comfort when they are sick…

I am the one who gets to create spontaneous snow day memories with them from hastily assembled crafts or sledding expeditions…

I am the one who gets to feel baby kicks, experience the miracle of childbirth and nourish these babies—all and only with my own body…

Rather than thinking of myself as the default parent, it's so much more empowering to frame myself as what I really am at this moment of time in my relationship: the day-to-day parenting specialist. I'm the one with boots on the ground and while they may get a bit muddy on occasion, there is no beating the love I receive as payment.

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

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

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.

$189

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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