Why we moved our entire family in the middle of the pandemic

We quickly realized that the life we had held onto so tightly, the one we thought we wanted and needed was not compatible with our new lives as parents of three under 3.

moving during pandemic

I've always been a city person. I grew up bouncing around major cities and finally settled in New York in my mid-twenties. The bustle of the city made me feel alive, there was always something to do, somewhere to be, another adventure to explore. The hustle made me feel like I was part of a team—only New Yorkers know how hard it is to make there, how exhausting it can be and how once you jump in, you can't really stop hustling.

I met my now-husband in New York. We both had fancy job titles at big-name companies and we both spent way too much time at the office. Once our relationship became serious we started prioritizing it, spending less and less time in front of computers during the weekend and making more and more plans to go out of state and explore the rest of the country and the world.

Soon after we got married, I became pregnant. We toyed with the idea of leaving the city but came to the conclusion that having babies in New York was easy—we could walk around everywhere, hang with friends in parks and bars and our tiny one-bedroom apartment could be turned into a 1.5 bedroom if we moved our son into the closet for as long as we could.

So we did that.

The first few years as new parents were great. We did all those things we said. Our baby could sleep through FDNY sirens blasting constantly down our street. He would spend all day outside of our house with his nanny (because that's what you do in New York, you pay tons of money in rent to never be inside your apartment) and we continued working insane hours.

We would occasionally talk about how nice it would be to have a backyard, to move to the suburbs and slow down a little bit. To watch our son grow, be more involved in his life, enjoy being in our home and not constantly jumping from plan to plan every free hour we had. But we quickly shut it down by reminding ourselves that we were not ready to leave this magical place. Not yet. Maybe when he had to go to school.

I became pregnant again, this time with twins, and we were still determined to make it work in the apartment we were already crammed in to. Two adults, three kids and two dogs. What were we thinking? Well, I had had a really rough time with postpartum anxiety the first time around and wanted to be near friends and my support team, expecting that I would need a little bit more help to recover both physically and mentally after going from one to three kids.

And then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

We quickly realized that the life we had held onto so tightly, the one we thought we wanted and needed was not compatible with our new lives as parents of three under 3. My anxiety skyrocketed just a week into lockdown. Every time we stepped outside for our son to get some sunshine and burn some energy I would panic about being in the epicenter of the pandemic. Not knowing how long the lockdown would last made it even worse.

So we made the decision to do what we had been avoiding for the last few years, packed as much as we could into the last trailer UHaul had in the tri-state area and drove through the night with 2-week-old twins, a toddler and our dogs.

It felt like we were fleeing—in a way we were.

It was also extremely freeing.

The next day we woke up at our family's farm in the middle of nowhere and, for the first time in many years, my shoulders were not tight around my ears anymore.

I immediately felt the anxiety leave my body and my brain was less foggy after we disconnected from the news for a bit.

Our toddler ran up and down the yard collecting sticks to help his dad build a fire in the firepit.

The dogs sniffed the scents of wildlife that hid around us.

The twins napped under a blanket in my arms while I rocked on a rocking chair—something I had always wanted to do but never had space or time to do before.

It felt right. It felt like what we needed for a long time.

A global pandemic pushed us to leave the "comfort" (because NYC is never comfortable) of the lives we had known for decades and start all over again somewhere new, slow, calm, for our children to have what they need right now.

I'm going to miss the cultural diversity of such an emblematic city in the world. I'm going to miss my places, my friends, our routine. But I'm also fully aware that our children need space to grow that goes beyond a closet and a city park.

Maybe one day, when this is all over, I can take them back and introduce them to the city that welcomed them into this world. But for now, we'll stay far away, distant from everyone for our safety, collecting sticks to make another fire tonight, under the stars (the ones we could never see from the city).

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.


9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


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


10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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