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Two simple words completely changed how I feel about parenting

Focusing on ‘getting to’ vs. ‘having to’ made me realize just how lucky I really am. 

Two simple words completely changed how I feel about parenting

Even before your eyes open, your mind is in “step on it” mode: ready, set, go!


Pack lunch (ham sandwiches, baby carrots, and raisins, times two), drop kids off at school, next stop diapers from Target (don’t forget the gift for the baby shower), get the minivan serviced, make an appointment for the two-year-old’s well child checkup (before she turns three), school pick-up, taekwondo class, quick stop at Walgreens (thank God for the drive-through) speaking of drive-throughs, that’s probably what’s for dinner tonight.

You’re tired before you even get out of bed—there are a bajillion things you absolutely have to do today. You suppress a groan as you groggily turn off the alarm and steel yourself for the day ahead.

But here’s a thought: what if we replaced have to with the words get to? Those two simple words—get to—have the power to transform our perspective on parenting.

You get to pack lunch for the kids.

You get to take them to school.

You get to take them to the doctor and to their after-school lessons.

You get to be their chef, chauffeur, and event planner.

Two years ago, my family and I moved from the U.S. to India, where my husband and I were born and raised. For 12 years before that, we lived in a suburb of Portland, Oregon.

We had both completed graduate school in the U.S., then came love, marriage, and two babies born 17 months apart in a baby carriage (more like a McLaren LX stroller). We loved our white-picket-fence life in suburbia. We were living the American Dream. Then, for a bunch of various nondramatic reasons, we moved to India.

We lived a blessed life in America. We continue to live a life of more-than-enough in India. This wasn’t one of those Mother Theresa, let’s make this world a better place moves. We moved with a job that would provide enough for our daily needs, and then some.

But every single day, as a person of privilege in India, I come face-to-face with the fact that I get to rather than I have to.

As I get to take my kids to school in an air-conditioned car, we pass by children sitting on mounds of sand outside construction sites where their parents work. Their naturally black hair is now bleached blond by the sun.

Their moms carry piles of bricks and bags of cement through unfinished buildings. They don’t have the option of taking their kids to school. My “have to wake up when my iPhone alarm rings at 6:30 a.m.” complaints seem horrendously petty.

Moments like these are laced through my day.

As I enjoy the rain from my penthouse apartment with its round-the-clock security guards and swimming pool, I look out the window to the street below me to see a family huddled under a blue tarp they call home. They don’t have to make the beds; they get to sleep on blankets on the hard ground.

As I leave the grocery store with stuff that I don’t actually need, I am joined on the sidewalk by a child trying to sell me a coloring book or a bunch of pens. Her mom doesn’t have to do homework with her. In all likelihood, neither of them knows how to read.

I could go on and on. But you don’t have to move halfway across the world to see that your life, like mine, is filled with get to moments. The very fact that we have beds to make, laundry to tackle, lunches to pack, and dinners to serve is a privilege that millions don’t have.

Our normal is someone else’s dream. The fact that we have to do most of this for people we love is the biggest get to of all.

Instead of looking at our lists as chores, we need to see them as opportunities. So I teach my kids that we are blessed by trying to provide small blessings to others. It may mean carrying bags of packaged cookies in the car to share with the kids who knock on our car window. It may mean tutoring an underprivileged child. It may mean keeping our used toys in the trunk to give to the next child sitting on a pile of sand.

And it’s a drop in the bucket. But, slowly, all the drops add up.

And while the bucket fills, my perspective changes from being a parent obsessed with just how crazy hard my life is, to one who acknowledges my abundance.

Original story by Susan Narjala for Parent.co.

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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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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