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When motherhood feels heavy, mama—know that you are not alone

I am with you—in the heaviness and the lightness. I just want you to know that. You're not alone, and I know I'm not either. And sometimes, that's what we need to know most of all.

When motherhood feels heavy, mama—know that you are not alone

Some days mom life isn't all dance parties and hugs and special doughnut treats. Some days it's anxiety and meltdowns and tough decisions.

And on the days when I feel overwhelmed and unsure and the desire to run away with my family so I can hide them away from the scariness of the world—motherhood feels heavy.

Sometimes the lightness of putting my toddler's new sneakers on—and her contagious excitement because of them… is followed by the heaviness of said toddler's hysteria at school drop-off 20 minutes later.

And hearing her cry harder as the teachers encourage her to "come check this out" as I'm encouraged to sneak out of the classroom makes my heart feel like it's physically being ripped out of my chest. So I wait in the family room, with my two other children and give myself a mental pep talk to stop the tears.

Sometimes the lightness of a beautiful, fun day with my kids… is followed by the heaviness of what's going on in the world around me. The shootings, the fighting, the racism, the sexism, the anger—they all get me down and some days I find it hard to re-focus.

And the news cycle continues to spew out hatred and inequalities and sexual assaults and horrifying disasters—and it weighs on my spirit. It weaves me into its web of anxiety and threatens to hide the joy that's right in front of me.

So I try harder to put up boundaries. I work on limiting my intake. I step away. I center myself around the beauty of my family.

Sometimes the lightness of the beauty that is watching my kids play together… is followed by the heaviness of arguing and fighting over a silly toy. And it's frustrating. I don't understand why it happens and am constantly shocked with the how quickly things can turn from good to bad.

The kids melt down. And I lose my patience. And before you know it—a really sweet moment has turned into yelling and attempts to calm them down and empty threats and feeling like a failure.

So I step away. We take deep breaths. We try again. We show each other love, compassion and mercy.

Sometimes the lightness of watching my husband play with our children and kiss me hello… is followed by the heaviness of budget chats and stressful conversations and not having enough energy to clean up after bedtime and wanting to just go to sleep.

And we take out our frustrations on each other and we get mad and we wished we didn't but we're tired and we don't mean to.

So we apologize. We connect. We work together. We look at each other in the eyes and we promise that we've got this. We love and we continue to love and our love will always be there even in the arguments and even in the heaviness.

The weight of motherhood is heavy. Think: 10,000 loads of laundry, 8,000 meals, 6,000 diapers, 3,000 meltdowns, 2,000 tough calls and many many tears and many many worries heavy. And it weighs on us. It sits like a boulder on our chests some days, threatening to break us open.

And maybe that's what we're here to do. Maybe the heaviness has to break us open.

To open our hearts to the light of the children we have brought into this world.

To allow them to teach us—as getting to see the world through their innocent, creative eyes is sometimes the best teacher we could ask for.

To be completely vulnerable in our role of mother so we can grow into the human we were always destined to be.

Every day I am trying more and more to shed the weight of "perfection." The image of a "perfect mother" or "perfect woman" that has been ingrained in my mind for years.

And every day I am working toward opening myself up more and more to what I've been put on this earth for. To recognizing who I actually am. To dig deep into the place that has been opened up completely thanks to my children—and asking myself to muster the courage I need to step up to the plate and be there for them. Really be there.

We will all experience the heaviness of motherhood. But we can't get lost in it. Because the lightness will always be there, too—even when we have to search for it. And search for it, we must.

Because the heaviness is where the truth is.

And the truth is where our heart is.

So mama, on the heavy days—work hard to let the lightness of your life shine. ✨

And on the light days—bask in its glow. It will fill you up and keep you going.

I am with you—in the heaviness and the lightness. I just want you to know that. You're not alone, and I know I'm not either. And sometimes, that's what we need to know most of all.

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Croquet set

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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.

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Wooden digital camera

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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.

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Wooden bulldozer toy

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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.

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Pull-along hippo

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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

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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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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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